It has come to my attention that a lot of my common blog themes often revolve around my younger sister.  Truth be told, she is a great inspiration when writing about mass media’s influence on society, particularly on our youth.  She indeed is growing up in the age of technology and, as I have alluded to in the past, her childhood is a lot different from mine due to mass media.  So she has become my personal case study….sorry sis!

That being said, I have a new topic to discuss and yes, it does involve my sister (don’t worry Professor Robinson, I think you will like this one).  For any of you who do not know, my sister is 12 years old and a 6th grader at a public middle school.  She is a smart kid, with many friends.  She owns an iPod touch, which she sometimes brings to school with her.  Most of her friends also own either an iPod touch or, to my own dismay, an iPhone.  Now, you are probably wondering why I am telling you this information…right?

A month ago, my sister came home from school complaining of an itchy scalp.  Alarmed, my mom washed her hair and then combed the wet hair in order to see my sister’s scalp more clearly.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what she found….

In case any of you haven’t figured it out, my sister had head lice! Yup, good old head lice…which takes between 6-12 weeks to get rid of, might I add.  It is an annoying condition that spreads quickly.  In order to get rid of it entirely, you must wash you hair using a medically prescribed treatment that stings the scalp and smells horrible.  In addition, you must wash your bed sheets everyday and you cannot lean your head on anything.  As you can imagine, once one member of a household has lice, the likelihood of other members getting head lice increases substantially.  In other words, it has not been the easiest past few months for my family.

Unfortunately the burden fell predominantly on my mom who had to wash all of our sheets, apply treatment to my sister’s hair every night, and pull lice from her head by the hundreds…all while trying not to get it herself.  After witnessing her struggle, let me tell you, lice is not something you want to mess with.

By now, you are probably wondering why this is relevant to a blog that’s suppose to focus on mass media.  Well, prepare yourself…

Medical experts have recently reported a rapid increase of head lice amongst young teenagers.

But why?

Upon investigation, experts believe that the popular action of taking a “selfie” may be leading cause of this medical epidemic.

But how?

Well, it is not really rocket science.  Because young teenagers own or have access to a iPod touch, iPhone, or any device that has a camera…many of them are jumping on the bandwagon, taking self-portraits of themselves and their friends.  The popular trend of “taking a selfie” has swept the world as social networking has increased.  Especially with younger girls, many take pictures of themselves with their friends and then post them on social media sites like Facebook and Instragram.  Selfies often contain a group of people crowding around each other, head to head, and smiling at the camera.  If you are unfamiliar with what a selfie looks like, just check out Ellen DaGeneres’ famous selfie taken at the 2014 Oscars.  They look something like this..

As you can see, all of our most beloved stars are head to head in front of Ellen’s camera phone, held by Bradley Cooper.  This is prime time for lice to attack! If one star has lice, the tiny creatures can easily crawl or jump from one head to another in a matter of seconds.

“I’ve seen a huge increase of lice in teens this year. Typically it’s younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact. But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics,” explains Marcy McQuillan of Scotts Valley’s Nitless Noggins.

McQuillian goes on to say that kids these days are addicted to selfies.

“Every teen I’ve treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day…I think parents need to be aware, and teenagers need to be aware too. Selfies are fun, but the consequences are real.”

Honestly, it makes perfect sense.  Even as a young adult myself, there have been countless time I have crouched close to my friends, head to head, to take a selfie.  Quite frankly, I am surprised that lice have not infiltrated many universities yet.  But is it only a matter of time?

In doing some additional research, I came across a CNN video which reported the link between selfies and lice following an article published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  AJC investigated the spread of lice and interviewed an Atlanta nurse who treats head lice.  Similarly she has seen a drastic increase in young teens who confessed to their selfie game.  Not going to lie, it’s a bit disgusting if you think about it.  Check out the CNN video and the AJC article below…


Needless to say, I do not think I will be taking any group selfies in the near future.  As you can imagine, my sister has learned her lesson and plans to avoid selfies as well.  However, it is crazy to think that an increase in lice is linked to an increase in selfies, which is linked to an increase in social media, which is linked to an increase in technological advancement, such as cell phones. It truly does comes full circle (guess your were right, Professor Robinson).  I only hope that society catches on to this newly discovered linkage…or we might have a president with head lice.  Be careful Obama!

It was selfie time for David Ortiz and President Obama. (Will Mcnamee / Getty Images)

***Let the record show that I do not think David Ortiz has head lice. But then again, who knows who he has been “selfing” it up with???