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Mental Health

#TheSelfieTalk: A Must-Have Conversation with Kids in the Digital Age

Posted 09/02/2021 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Parent Resources

“With the rise of social media, digital distortion is now happening on a much bigger scale, by younger people, without regulation…when editing apps are used to digitally distort images to conform to unrealistic beauty standards that cannot be achieved in real life, it can damage young people’s self-esteem. Dove wants to highlight this issue and provide tools to parents and caregivers to help young people navigate social media in a positive way.”

—  Firdaous El Honsali, Global Communications & Sustainability Director, Dove 

In a culture where social media plays a significant role in teenagers’ daily lives, only 30% of parents say they’ve discussed the pressures and potential harm social media presents with their kids. But this critical conversation can’t be ignored.

Research conducted by the Dove Self-Esteem Project in 2020 revealed startling insights:

  • 80% of girls have downloaded a filter or used an app to change the way they look in photos by age 13.
  • 67% of girls try to change or hide at least one body part/feature before posting a photo of themselves.
  • 59% of girls with lower-reported body-esteem regularly distort their photos before posting them on social media.
  • 37% of girls say they don't “look good enough” without any photo editing.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Dove are working together through the Dove Self-Esteem Project to encourage parents and teachers to have the #TheSelfieTalk — an open, honest conversation with young people about navigating social media safely, building confidence and maintaining a true sense of self. Resources like The Confidence Kit can help parents and teachers have these tough conversations to help shape a young person’s healthy self-image. 

Here are just a few of the tips to help guide #TheSelfieTalk with a young person in your life to ensure they have a positive experience on social media:

  1. Social media is not reality. It’s important to remind teens that most of what they see on social media has been digitally distorted, edited or highly curated and is not always the most realistic representation of someone else’s life.
  2. Don’t be afraid to hit that unfollow button. Our social feeds should inspire us – not tear down our self-esteem. Encourage the young person in your life to unfollow or hide any accounts that don’t make them feel good. Instead, look for accounts that interest and inspire them or teach them something new.
  3. Likes don’t define your worth. Encourage teens to spend less time worrying about how many likes their post gets and instead focus on sharing content that reflects different aspects of their unique beauty and personality.
  4. Make social media social. Help the young person in your life avoid mindless scrolling. Being a passive scroller makes us so much less connected to the humans on the other side of the screen and can expose us to more digitally distorted images. Encourage teens to follow interest accounts and engage with those communities to get inspired.
  5. When in doubt, log out! Explain the benefits of a digital detox to the young person in your life if any part is feeling toxic or upsetting and remind them that their feed will still be there tomorrow, next week or whenever they choose to log back in.

In the toolkit, each tip is accompanied by a list of action items to help you know not just what to do, but how.

Dove Self-Esteem Project 2020 research was conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence, a global, multidisciplinary research, analytics and data consultancy. 503 girls (ages 10-17) and 1,010 women (ages 18-55) were surveyed during November and December of 2020.

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