If you thought you only had to worry about anorexic models and actresses playing on your teen’s self-image, think again. It turns out that sites as seemingly innocuous as Facebook can play a major role in how your child views herself.
A recent study conducted at the University of Haifa has statistically proven that the more time a teen spends involved in Facebook – and let’s face it, most teens spend a lot of time there – the more likely she is to develop an eating disorder.
That’s a pretty big deal, especially in a culture that reveres the thin.
Facebook isn't just a place where the kids SuperPoke each other and run little farms. Almost every facet of the site has the potential to create the kind of environment where an already insecure teen develops a drastically negative self image.
Facebook is a stage on which your child plays a starring role. Every photo she posts has been carefully cropped and edited to make her look prettier, hipper, and thinner. You know that ever-popular angle everyone shoots, the one with the camera in the air looking down at you? It’s designed to make her look skinny. All of her friends – ones she’s close to and ones she’s not – are looking at those photos, judging in only the way that teens can.
And, she’s looking at all of their photos too, comparing herself to them. Is she skinnier? Is her skin better? Are her clothes cooler? What happens if she feels she doesn’t measure up?
It’s not just photos that make Facebook dangerous. Kids constantly compare how many friends they all have. What if Suzy B Thin has 300 friends and your normal-sized daughter only has 39? It’s an easy leap in the teenage brain to go from “She’s thin and that makes her popular” to “I’m not thin and that makes me unpopular.”
Even something as silly as the comments on a person’s page are fodder for a teen tottering on the edge. The teenage years are one big competition, so if one girl has more compliments or comments from guys on her page she’s immediately the biggest competition – and the one your teen most wants to “beat”. Even if that means skinnier. Even if that means eating only an apple a day.
What impact does Facebook have on your teen’s life? Are you worried about problems like anorexia?
Image via Janine/Flickr