We all know that physical appearance is not everything in this world yet we can’t entirely discredit its value. After all, face value is what we see first and not exactly what a person is thinking about. Over our lifetime, our body changes so are our body image. And our perception about the way our body looks, whether it is good or bad, also varies depending on our level of maturity. It is easier for adults to make peace with their outward flaws because they know better but not young kids and teens. At this point in their life, social acceptance means a lot to them and they aren’t mature enough to feel confident about themselves regardless of how they look.
The influence of one’s peers is very important to children because that is how they equate their value as a person. They may easily get offended or hurt by what other people say especially when it pertains to negative things regarding their body. And body image issues may lead to bullying that can have a big impact on a child’s life. Suicide is actually prevalent among this age group and it continues to rise alongside the many advancements in technology we now enjoy. Social media is a big factor and it happens to be the hottest playground for people of all ages. There’s just so much to do and almost everyone has SNS accounts where they can connect with people the world over.
Puberty is a journey of changes and self-discovery for a growing child. It is also a time when you are likely to experience trouble communicating with your children, who would prefer to confide in their friends.
Social media also has an immense influence on your impressionable young tween, especially when it comes to their looks and plays a part in perpetuating unhealthy body images in young people’s minds. Parenting specialist at Focus on the Family, Sarah Chua said: “The direct link between media exposure to thin model images and immediate body image dissatisfaction is well documented (in research).”
Dr Alakananda Gudi, an associate consultant at Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Department of Psychiatry also noted: “Some of these (body images) reflected in the media are unattainable and unrealistic for the regular person in the street!
Most of the time, parents do not really know what’s in their children’s social media accounts or the people they are interacting with. Kids these days now have access to smartphones and WiFi making it easier for them to explore the web even without their parent’s consent. And as such, they are exposed to violence and biases that cloud their judgment and make them doubt even their own worth especially once others start to question their value as a person simply because of the way they look.
Teenagers are under more pressure than in any previous generation, England’s public health chief has claimed, as officials roll out a new syllabus to help children cope with the digital age.
Classes devoted to cyber-bullying, body shaming, and “fear of missing out” on line will be available in secondary schools from this term as part of revamped Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) package designed to “build resilience” among social media “natives”.
With that being said, it is difficult for most adults to grasp the amount of pressure young kids today feel because they lived and thrived in a generation that lacked these modern contrivances. It’s hard to relate to something you haven’t experienced yourself. That is basically it. So seeing kids putting more importance to their virtual life only goes to show just how much they have embraced technology and social media and how much it impacts their lives. The sad thing is that these platforms aren’t always the nicest or the safest place for young kids to play around with. The social expectations young kids see on social media trigger and fuel their body insecurities.