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Is social media ruining girls confidence

Is social media ruining girls confidence
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Social media: a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram et al mean our every move, thought and experience can be captured and posted for the world to see, comment upon and share. We are exposed to countless videos, articles and photographs in our increasingly connected world.

In my former life as a teacher I was well aware of the influence and increasing use of social media by young people and how engaging (and valuable) sites were for social and academic reasons. I also witnessed the negative impacts upon teenagers.

The Schools Health Education service conducted a survey of 59,000 young people. Results showed that only 33% of 14-15 year old girls who took part in the study felt good about themselves with only one in three having high self-esteem.

Could social media be playing a part in these low levels of confidence in girls? In a time when most young people can access the internet freely these sites have an ever growing influence so the question is an important one.

Online pressure

When using social media it is easy for young girls to feel as though everyone else is living the perfect life. We all know this isn’t the case but in those challenging formative years it can be hard to see through all the pouting selfies, make up adverts and ‘must have’ handbags. Girls are bombarded with images and videos to aspire to and judge themselves against.

Clothes, make up, relationships, jobs and boys/girls can become part of a huge online competition. Girls can feel so much pressure to fit in, look a certain way, have the right ‘stuff’ and be popular. I remember all too well how difficult it was being a teenage girl and I didn’t have to contend with ­­reading online how fantastic the whole world’s life was compared to mine!

Body Image

Pressure on young girls to look a certain way is immense; social media exposes them to images and standards that are unobtainable and unrealistic. The models, actresses and celebrities that feature in articles and videos plastered all over social media are presented as the ideal. For most of us we could never achieve that ‘ideal’ as our bodies were just not designed that way.

Adults have the power of hindsight and experience to understand that it is far more important to eat healthily and exercise than be thin. But we’ve been through puberty (when confidence seems so tied up with thinness) and come out the other side in a time when social media was a million miles away. Currently, girls have very little escape from these pressures.

Bullying

Is social media ruining girls confidenceSadly, bullies use online media sites to inflict pain and upset on their victims and confidence to tatters. They attack via private messaging, tweets, photographs and malicious posts and can range from oh so subtle bullying to a relentless barrage of viciousness, cruelty and threats. Frightening evidence from nobullying.com/cyber bullying statistics 2014 reveals that 52% of the young people surveyed reported having been cyber bullied.

The psychological scars of this form of bullying can have a devastating effect on the confidence of young people.

Inappropriate content

Adults have the power of hindsight and experience to understand that it is far more important to eat healthily and exercise than be thin. But we’ve been through puberty (when confidence seems so tied up with thinness) and come out the other side in a time when social media was a million miles away. Currently, girls have very little escape from these pressures.

 

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About Caroline Wheeldon-Wright

About Caroline Wheeldon-Wright

Caroline lives in Sheffield and is a Mum to two boys both under the age of four so understands all too well how wonderful, demanding and all­ consuming being a parent can be. Following a fourteen year career in teaching she decided to turn freelance in order to spend as much time as possible with her boys whilst still enjoying a challenge work wise. Writing has been a hobby since childhood and Caroline is delighted to be part of The Working Parent team. In her spare time she enjoys going to the theatre as well as live music concerts and has recently started to learn the guitar.

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