Social media filters and mental health

Now let’s discuss social media.

If you use Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, there’s a good possibility that you’ve experimented with these applications’ filters. Filters can be entertaining; especially those that change your appearance or make you look like a character from Pixar.

Unfortunately, employing these filters when using social media can often lead to expectations being altered, which can lead to more harm than good. Social media apps’ beauty filters are well known for emphasizing Eurocentric beauty traits including lighter eyes, a smaller nose, and flushed cheeks. Others fully alter the face by eliminating all pores, enlarging the lips, and altering the appearance of the eyes.

Every time we use the app, it appears like we discover a new filter that transforms us into completely different versions of ourselves.

The outcome? Users of social media who are unsatisfied with their own appearances, particularly women. According to studies, social media has a big impact on the plastic surgery trends, and people are using photos of their filtered self as inspiration.

These filters can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation in addition to low self-esteem. Due to these filters, which create a self-reinforcing feedback loop that causes people to spend more time on social media, seeking virtual validation, and less time connecting with others in the real world, at the same time that social media exposure is eroding people’s self-esteem, we are also witnessing a rise in isolation.

What if, however, you are able to acknowledge that the social media filters that radically alter your appearance are unreal but choose to use them nevertheless because you don’t consciously experience any of these unfavorable feelings? These filters may have the same effect unconsciously. These apps are more than just games; they subtly instil the idea of flaw and ugliness, which lowers confidence.

Social media and filters can unintentionally bring back traumatic memories or draw attention to insecurities, which can exacerbate depressive and anxious symptoms.

Spending too much time staring at filtered images of oneself might have a negative impact on one’s emotions, sleep, and general mental and physical health.

Even those who don’t use these programs frequently could still be affected by them because these filters have a way of having an impact on society as a whole.

However, it’s crucial to understand that filter use may have a harmful impact on mental health. Fortunately, there are ways for parents to intervene and support their children who are obsessed with filters without banning all use.

Have age appropriate conversations

The key is communication. Parents must have ongoing conversations with their children in order to distinguish reality from online perceptions, taking into account the child’s developmental age and experience.

Asking open-ended questions to teenagers is also a good idea, but parents can go a step further.

Pointing out observations and well-known facts while listening to the teen’s response can be helpful. For illustration, a parent could state, it seems like your classmate always edits or applies filters to her social media posts. Is that the norm? What do you think about the alterations to these images?

Encourage them to limit screen time

Heavy social media use is associated with a higher risk of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and suicide ideation, according to research. Therefore, it is acceptable for parents to actively participate in observing their child’s use of social media.

According to research, social media use is mostly unregulated.

Social media’s limitations and negatives should be discussed with kids by their parents, and internet safety should also be covered.

You should also discuss with your child how frequently they should use their phones and how much time they should spend on websites like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Validate your children’s feelings

According to studies from the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, children as young as 3 show indicators of being unhappy with their bodies and desiring to improve their body image (PACEY). Dr. Patel-Dunn says that, in addition to social media, societal expectations and language/modeling from adults in the child’s life can have a significant impact on the intensity of these sensations.

It’s crucial to remind your child of their value as a person, entirely unfiltered, given that beauty filters contribute to these sentiments of being “less than.”

Parents shouldn’t encourage their kids to utilize filters that enhance their appearance. It’s crucial to affirm your child’s value and teach them to accept and appreciate themselves as they are.

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