Though it’s technically not an expletive, many parents dread the day their kids learn the “s” word: Selfie. You want your family to be able to capture life experiences, but not at the expense of turning them into one of the Rich Kids Of Instagram. A new study from the American Psychological Association suggests that selfies aren’t necessarily a slippery slope into narcissism, but a simple way to enjoy experiences more. That is, unless you take terrible pictures.
The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looks at over 2,000 participants in multiple experiments. People were instructed to take part in an enjoyable activity such as taking a bus tour or eating in a food court — not the highest bar for a good time, but remember these are science nerds. Groups were either instructed to take pictures or not, and then surveyed about the experience afterwards. In almost every case, people who took pictures reported enjoying their experiences more. Yes, even your fellow curmudgeons.
One exception was that when photo equipment got in the way people reported having a worse time. Nothing ruins your day like accidentally whacking their kid in the head with a selfie stick. As much as taking pictures enhanced positive experiences, it made negative ones that much worse. For instance, when participants observed a water buffalo get mauled by a pride of lions (where the hell was this bus tour?), documenting did not make it any better for anyone — especially the buffalo. Luckily, you don’t live in this science experiment and will never have to photograph something that gruesome. Unless it’s a birth of another kid.