We live in the Age of Social Media, where everything you do can be captured, viewed, and replayed in any given moment. According to The Statistics Portal, Adolescents under 17 made up: 45.6 million Snapchat users, 18.7 million Instagram users, and 4.5 million Facebook users. On all of these majors platforms, a face can be altered through filters, FaceTune, or photoshop; making it difficult for the viewer to decide what is real and what is fake. The issue is that these false images reflect a “perfect life” of those surrounding the teenager, such as classmates and peers, which curates a storm of self-doubt and low self-esteem within the teen.
Donna Wick, EdD, founder of Mind-to-Mind Parenting, claims teenagers create a “perfect storm of self-doubt,” which references a teenager’s vulnerability, need for validation, and desire to compare themselves.
Magazines have long been criticized for the use of models and incorporation of unrealistic body images. Nowadays, these standards are set by friends and family in addition to celebrities and models. Sasha, a 16-year-old junior, says that when she views her friends’ feeds it “makes you feel like everyone has it together but you.”
Essentially, social media pages reflect the highlights of someone’s life, or what the owner of the page wants their followers to see. As a result, teens see a friend’s perfect body or outfit and feel pressure to look the same way. Researchers at Stanford University created the term “duck syndrome” which compares the use of social media to the actions of a duck. A duck seems to glide freely and carelessly over the water’s surface, while their legs are working immensely hard trying to keep the duck afloat.
Social media does not only affect the self-esteem of adolescents but also the ideal life of older populations. The Huffington Post surveyed men and women between 28 and 73 and discovered:
– 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way
– 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationships,
– 80% reported that is easier to be deceived by others through their sharing on social media.
On the other hand, social media can provide representation. For example, plus size models, like Ashley Graham, have gained mass followings for their demonstration of body confidence. However, idols and models can only help so much when a teen lacks a positive role model to look up to in everyday life. In addition, the constant swiping of edited photos makes it difficult for anyone in this day and age to feel fully secure. Although social media may not be the root of this “self-doubt epidemic,” it definitely amplifies the issue.
It’s human nature to feel insecure and have self-doubt; however, if younger teens and children reduce social media use, or rid it as a whole, the issue on the table and the self-deprecation of teenagers would lessen as a whole.