As a High School Media Teacher I have become familiar with the digital image editing software known as Photoshop.
Photoshop has many unique traits, which can improve a simple photo vastly. Tools that allow the user to change a photos background or even hide a pimple can be useful in todays digital photo sharing age. However as a 13 – 16 year old becomes more skilled in the program they can develop skills in hiding facial blemishes, hair colour and even their weight if need be. Teenagers who can develop this skill can perhaps do more harm than good when they are able to develop a false image of themselves to their friends and strangers via social media. Although this program was intended for photography enthusiasts it has now become a mainstream program used by many schools for students to show their design and editing skills. In my classes I have my students use the program to explore the unlimiting possibilities of editing such as replacing backgrounds of cityscapes with beaches and melding works of art with a students ‘selfie’. Although these exercises are used to demonstrate my student’s capabilities with the program it can lead them down another path where they use the program to edit their own images and even bully other students with their skills.
I had a situation where a student took a photo of another student and altered his appearance to look ugly and also added text to say something rude and offensive about the student in the picture. He then went and printed the image and posted it around the school. This new form of bullying was alarming, not only for the students self esteem but also in showing the negative possibilities of digital editing programs.
I believe in today’s age of digital manipulation one needs to be careful with these programs. Professional magazine editors use the program to tweak their cover girls every week by removing blemishes and excess fat. Teenagers who have the skills in the program can use it in the same way and misrepresent themselves when they put a photo on facebook or instagram that hides their true selves. Although a professional photographer can tweak an image of a horizon to be darker or lighter a confused teenager who thinks they’re physically unappealing can also use it for misrepresenting themselves and others. Only time will tell how far digital editing will go, not only professionally but also for that teenager at home playing on their laptop.