Social Media And The Pressure On Teens

Can you guys help me pick a filter?
I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia
I wanna look tan
What should my caption be?
I want it to be clever
I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes
Do you think I should take it down?
Let me take another selfie

(Lyrics from song: “Selfie” by the Chainsmokers)

selfie
selfie-mania

Selfies are a product of the age of a celebrity obsessed society and they are leaving teens under increased social pressure. Selfies are not empowering our teenage girls; they are teaching girls that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness. Taking selfies reflects elements of narcissism, low self esteem, attention seeking behavior and self indulgence.

Today, teenagers have to be invested in social media, as it is an important part of overall teenage socializing. It shapes their reputation and has an enormous impact on their self esteem. Posing in group photographs, taking dozens of selfies, tagging pictures and receiving high counts on Instagram signify net social worth, popularity and is a sign of belonging to the digital world. There is a dependence and expectation of receiving praising comments leading to approval, recognition and validation from posting on social media sites.  Pew’s Research Centers shows that 95% of teens are online of which 71% of teens use Facebook and 52% use Instagram. A typical teen Facebook user has 300 friends and a typical tween user has 79 followers.

Teenage girls reveal that social media can actually “boost their self confidence”. It is so important that it gives teens a way to control the image of themselves that they are showing to the world.

Fifty five percent of teen girls and thirty four percent of teen boys say “social media makes me feel more self conscious about my appearance.”  There is an increased pressure on teens to be available 24/7, to be “camera ready”, to look thin and beautiful as photoshopped images of others become ideals. It is a great arena to show off trendy gadgets or clothes and to adopt the latest fads capturing the attention of others and gaining popularity. The effect of this social pressure is thus giving rise to body dysmorphic disorder, self esteem issues, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and undoubtedly, reducing the quality of sleep; all of which disturb healthy mental health at such a young age.

With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Tumblr, social media is probably the most effective way to communicate with teens. However, its messages need to be channeled in a positive way to help teens portray a healthyimage and encourage them to believe that in order to “Look Good, You have to feel good.” Now that’s a selfie worth many likes.

selfie_doctor

Author: Sania Beig

McGrath, M. (2015) Social Media can pressure teens to have perfect a body. American Academy of Pediatrics, Vol 36 (1), 23.

Udorie, J.E. (2015, Sept 15). Social Media is harming the mental health of teenagers. The State has to act. The Guardian, Mental Health.

Pews Research Center. (2015) Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/pi_2015-04-09_teensandtech_18/

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