Social media has negative impact on teens’ self-love


Melissa Grusczynski

Looking in the mirror and not liking what they see and picking out every flaw and insecurity is a common occurrence that teens experience. Comments about weight and shape, putting children on a diet, and teasing all have a negative impact on a teen’s self esteem, but what seems to be the most prevalent is social media.


Although social media seems like a perfect place to coexist with one’s peers and catch up on everything that is happening, it can actually damage a child/teen’s confidence. Without a lot of likes, follows, or retweets teens view themselves as not good enough.


Dina Borzekowski, professor at the Johns Hopkins School Of Public Health, says, “Social media may have a stronger impact on children’s body image than traditional media. Messages and images are more targeted: if the message comes from a friend it is perceived as more meaningful and credible.”


Not only do teens’ peers have an influence on the way they perceive themselves; famous figures do as well. “I think [teens are self-conscious] because people are always judging each other, so then that just builds into the insecurity,” shared senior Ruwandi Wijenayake. “And, there’s social media, and [there are] celebrities that post a lot of things and they have this great life and great bodies and people just want to be like that, and so if you’re not like that you kinda feel insecure about yourself.”


Social media is set up where you can only post what you want others to see. This allows people to be able to create a false representation of their lives, considering their followers or friends can only see the highs of their lives, not the lows. “I think it [social media] does cause some challenges in terms of people’s perceptions of ‘everybody else is out there doing these amazing things and having fun; I’m not involved in that,’ but is that a really accurate representation?” says New Berlin West school psychologist Donna Douglas-Wagner. “Everything that is typically posted on instagram, social media, snapchat, are usually the highlights of your day or highlights of your weekend.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Education, an average US woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds while the average US model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds. In reality, someone who is the height of 5’11” should weigh between 136-172 pounds to be considered healthy. 87 out of 100 students surveyed at New Berlin West High School agreed that after seeing someone else’s photo on social media, they wish they had that person’s life or appearance. Teens see models online or in ads who are supposedly portraying the perfect body image, and then strive to become like skinny models, which can lead to serious complications.


While using social media, teens’ risk for depression, self-harm, eating disorders, and anxiety goes up. According to the Park Nicollet Melrose Center, a residential eating disorder treatment center, found that 30-50% of their patients are actively using social-networking sites to support their eating disorders. An example of this would be a post saying, “For every like it equals one hour I will not eat.”


Body image and appearance worries are spreading to younger children as well. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body image. Children as young as ten years old are worrying if they are portraying society’s “perfect” body image. A study that Duke University completed shows 40% of 9-10-year-olds have already been on a diet.


On social media, people are uploading every minute. When asked if social media has ever made her feel insecure, sophomore Kenna Petery said, “Definitely; just honestly, it could be the littlest things like looking at pictures and stuff and you’re like, ‘oh, I wish I was like that.’”
It is almost a natural instinct for teens to scroll through posts envying others, trying to copy others’ looks to create the best version of themselves. Teens see someone who is supposedly skinnier or healthier-looking and immediately think that is the way a human is supposed to look. Singer Lorde recently shared unphotoshopped pictures of herself on Twitter to remind people that “flaws are okay,” and media should not change the way a person perceives him or herself.