Let's face it. I am a clinical psychologist and a mother and I worry about our teen girls -- and with good reason. I have spoken to many of you about my concern about "selfies" in person, on TV and in other articles. It seems that everyone including celebrities, politicians and particularly our teen girls take photos of themselves and then post them publicly for evaluation and approval. There is this constant need for applause and validation that is fueled by instant access to social media and quick replies. I refer to this as "applause hunger." Our teen girls post photos of themselves on Facebook to see how many thumbs-ups they can accumulate. They also post photos on Instagram to see how many little hearts they can accumulate. The hearts, like the thumbs up, are an indicator of approval. This is all risky because our girls are relying on the opinions of others in a public forum to evaluate how they should perceive themselves based, of course, on how others perceive them. I am worried that there is too much sharing going on here and that these postings create a breeding ground for low self-esteem, sad young girls and the triggers to start dieting and perhaps even develop eating disorders.
So, while I am in the throes of worrying about how the "selfies" trend is affecting our teen girls a new and even more concerning trend has popped up, and I am not pleased. I have to tell you that I am just about ready to rip my hair out. The new trend involves pre-teen and teen girls posting videos of themselves on YouTube asking if they are pretty or ugly. I kid you not. Have a look and see what you think.
This trend will not lead to anything good. In fact, at the very least it will lead to girls' becoming obsessed with the opinions of others AND their appearance. At the very worst, it may lead to all sorts of cyber-bullying. And, we all know how that ends up. Badly. Very Badly. Our teen girls have too much public exposure. As a clinical psychologist and the mother of a young woman, I beg parents to talk to your daughters about this trend. Please try to dissuade your daughters from posting such videos. Look, you may think I'm a worrier, but I have good reason to worry. I watch as our girls set themselves up for more slings and arrows. It would be more than irresponsible for me to sit back passively and watch this happen.
I have always been an advocate of parents being very much aware of what their teens are up to in their social media life. This may not always make me popular with the teens but I am more concerned with their well-being than my popularity. I think all parents should be very concerned about their teens' exposure on social media earlier rather than after the damage is done. This may mean having a look at some of your kids' many screens and seeing what they are up to. Let your kids know that you will be monitoring their social media activity. Hey, they may be mad, but trust me, their anger will pass.
What is your opinion of this trend?
Have you spoken to your daughter about it?