Filtered images fill our social media feeds regularly. The wrinkles were erased, the red eye stopped, the hand hung down.
People are doing more than tweaks to photos – twisting and changing their faces and bodies to make them look unrecognizable. All to keep up with the ever-changing “good” body shape which jumps out of interest slim to curvy and back again.
Celebrities love it Kim and Khloe Kardashian are accused of such adjustments all the time – and many people are guilty of this – but mental health experts say that parents, in particular, should know what they post on social media because children notice more than we think.
“Children imitate the behavior of their caregivers,” he says Elizabeth Altunkaradirector of education at The National Eating Disorders Association. “They examine the world through this lens. Parental behavior affects children’s core values, including their relationship with their own bodies. Dieting, the drive to be thin and body dissatisfaction are often communicated to us and internalized from an early age.”
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Children pay attention to body language when told: ‘They are putting themselves in’
As the musical “Into the Woods” says many times: “Children will listen.”
You can sit at the kitchen table and talk innocently out loud while scrolling through Facebook photos or Instagram. But your 9, 10 or 16-year-old may be in earshot.
“They’re internalizing it, and they’re taking it as a clue of what they need to do, to appear acceptable to the community around them,” he says. Anna Marcolinpsychologist and life coach for improvement.
Mitch Prinsteinchief scientist of the American Psychological Association, has researched unity among young people, social media use and the depression process. He says that while we can’t say that social media causes stress, the way we use technology can be dangerous. “What we’re seeing is that kids who tend to use social media to compare and find answers, they may be struggling with depression a year later,” he says.
There is a trend today with more facts online and less surfing. Just look for a real social media app”BeReal,” which is growing in popularity, or for young people on TikTok to post a little filtered.
“I’ve had to walk the path of not putting filters on myself, because what’s going on right now is real, it’s dangerous and it’s real,” Marcolin says.
But that doesn’t mean that influencers and celebrities have controlled their posts; they still encourage others to surf away. Marcolin has contacted influencers who struggle with depression because people are shocked to see their behavior in the real world.
To filter or not to filter
Nips and tucks on pictures – removing wrinkles, playing with brightness and contrast – can be harmless. But parents who use apps too much to fix their face, hips or waist send the wrong message to children.
“You are shaving your body parts and discarding the parts of your body that you don’t want, like you your body it’s the kind of project that needs to be changed,” he says Crystal Burwella psychiatrist.
Takeaway: If your body isn’t perfect, theirs might be too. However, it is understandable why we choose and polish photos. We need likes! Attention! Did we mention likes?
“It’s easy to attach your sense of worth and confidence to how many people respond to your posts, but, in reality, that’s not the case,” Burwell says. “We need that satisfaction as humans. But it can be dangerous to put your identity through how people respond to you.”
Talking about surfing and not surfing can also be a conversation-starter for parents and children. “Social media can be used to create awareness about the effects of filtered and altered images on body image,” Altunkara says. “It can also be used to promote body positivity and acceptance, celebrate body diversity and educate about harmful body image and perception and how distorted and altered images contribute to it.”
Parents should think about it before posting on social media
What kind of change are you making and why? Are you changing the lighting or rotating your body to an unnatural degree?
Educate yourself. Consider watching articles like “The Social Dilemma” and reading articles to learn about how social media affects children and informs our world.
“We are all exposed to this beautiful sight and eating culture,” Altunkara
he says. “For this reason, education and raising awareness about these issues are important so that parents are aware of the effects these filtered images can have on children.”
Post fact. Put that family photo from your vacation on that thirst trap in your swimsuit.
Talk to your children. Level with your children, Marcolin says. “We’re all dealing to some degree with the same thing. It’s ‘normal’ to want to filter it out a bit.”
This is more than filters, though. “We don’t have enough conversations going on right now, between parents and kids about what they eat, why they eat it and how they make sense of what they eat on social media,” says Prinstein. “We want parents to work hard, and help kids process information on social media and help them understand the difference between what people do and what people mean.”
Encourage children to seek happiness beyond “wants.” Prinstein recommends telling kids to have a FaceTime or in-person interaction with a friend to trigger that feel-good dopamine response rather than posting something online and hoping for a positive response.
“There is no better example of how powerful the desire for the dopamine response is than just seeing the time that adults or young people will spend looking for a selfie, getting it right, editing it, making sure they are sending it. It’s just the right note at the right time of the day that increases its perception,” Prinstein he says. “It’s an amazing force.
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating disorders, the National Eating Disorders Association’s. free and confidential calls available by phone or text at 1-800-931-2237 or by click-to-chat message at . nationaleatingdisorders.org/helpline. For 24/7 crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741-741.