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20th Jul 2022
Parent’s Day

Perfectly Imperfect

22nd Jul 2021

By age 13, 80% of girls have distorted the way they look online*. Filters, image editing apps and ways to alter your appearance are rife across social media. The issue emerging is one where our teens are now so used to seeing these edited and filtered images that they now believe them to be the accepted norm and so to stand out in an unedited and unfiltered image makes them feel different and that they stand out in a negative way.

We face an impossible battle where, whilst we try to increase our children’s self-esteem and teach them the value of their individuality, they are simultaneously faced with this barrage of images online every day. More and more however the tide is starting to turn.

Bloggers are posting ‘Instagram v Reality’ photos, highlighting how easy it is to make your image appear different to what it actually ‘in reality’ is. We are seeing people calling out the ‘quick fix’ diet trend of the teas and shakes that some influencers get paid to promote, and instead, a shift towards promoting longer term healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. And Dove has recently launched a campaign #thereverseselfie to bring this issue out into the open and encourage more people to talk about it.

This shift is a welcome one because if used incorrectly, the online world can be a toxic one. What, for many teens, can start as simply a desire to conform and look more like the bloggers and influencers they see online, can quickly descend into a void where they find the darker side of Instagram via hashtags and accounts, and it can quickly get out of control.

There is a very dark side to these platforms where access to things we would not want our children exposed to can be located. By starting to follow certain hashtags, information and darker accounts can be easily accessible. This can then lead to your child being included on group chats where the conversations are darker still. A terrifying rabbit hole into negativity that can be found via a few clicks in the wrong direction and can have a terrible impact upon their mental wellbeing.

We need to be proactive as parents in starting a dialogue with our children about how frequently filters and body image editing apps are used. We need to help them learn to love themselves and value themselves for who they are and not just how they look. And we need to be intrusive in checking what they are up to when they are online. As you would ask about an afterschool activity, ask them about their time spent online too. Open up the dialogue. And when you check what accounts they follow, make sure you also check on what hashtags they follow. Knowledge is power and the more we know about what our children are doing online, the more able we are to put measures in places to help keep them safe.

For more help and information in this area we run an E – Safety  course which can assist you in learning more about how to keep your children safe online.

 

Written by Lucy Howard, BulliesOut Digital Communications Officer

 

*Statistic taken from Dove, based on research from the US surveying girls who use social media; US n-556 age 10-17

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