Instagram’s grim appeal as a silent self-esteem breaker

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It takes so long to transform and filter a photo of herself to make her feel comfortable posting it on Instagram. She demonstrated the procedure once in my office, admitting that she knew it looked nothing like hers. But the “likes” filled in so quickly, that she knew she’d do it again the next day.

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Instagram can be a dark and disturbing place for our children’s minds, my teenage clients tell me. Not realizing that they are good enough to post a selfie, for example, they will filter and change their body shape to reflect the celebrities or influencers whose physique they admire, including Many, as our children know well, are doing the same.

Charcoal is addictive. I’ve worked with countless girls who have significantly altered images of themselves to look a certain way, and much more who are shocked when an image of them is posted. The group follows other Instagram accounts, but rarely posts images of themselves for fear of embarrassment or ridicule for the way they look: their weight, their faces, their hair, it’s all up to these teens to judge. Feels on display.

In fact, according to research conducted by parent company Facebook, Instagram can have a negative impact on the mental health and body image of teens, especially girls.

Self esteem of boys is also affected

However, it is important to remember that teenage boys are also at risk. Teenagers and younger boys often follow other boys and men, thinking they have ideal masculine bodies or are more attractive than they are on their own. They have many of the same insecurities as their female counterparts but can be less vocal about them.

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A guy I work with deletes the Instagram app from his phone from time to time, fully aware that the other kids in his class have more followers and have accumulated far more “likes” than him Huh. This leaves him to hate himself, truly believing he must be unfit.

teen instagram doctor

Even the teens trying to provide support and connection are doing some damage. While trying to support peers suffering from depression, anxiety, attention issues or eating disorders on Instagram, they will post inspirational quotes, pictures of proper eating and realistic photos of their faces and bodies, flaws and all.

While it’s heartening that teens want to support each other, and most of this can feel quite helpful, it can be a dangerous thing. There is no trained professional supervising their attorney, and sometimes advice and support can provide false information that can prove counterproductive and highly dangerous.

Too often, our children become real therapists for each other, with no loving, reliable adult available to serve as an ally or through images and information shared on Instagram. guides. Many children are not developmentally prepared for the hit, given all of these variables, their self-worth.

A significant part of the problem with Instagram is that its pitfalls are often late nights alone. Because our children usually don’t turn to their parents when they are being hurt in this way, loneliness also often accompanies these self-worth issues. Finally, a social network designed for entertainment and connection presents a far more grim reality for our children.

Facebook research also shows that Instagram Could be a good thing for children’s emotional health. On occasion, this is true. I work with a teenage girl who found support for her eating disorder, and ways to conquer it, mainly from Instagram. She has created an account providing support and encouragement to other juvenile victims. But from what I see in my practice, I think the negatives far outweigh the positives.

It is therefore important that adults take steps to ensure that the use of Instagram does not undue harm to the self-esteem of our teens and children.

Dark Instagram: the promotion of finstas and extremist groups

Ask any teen, and if they’re being honest, they’ll share with you that they have more than one Instagram account. A “Finsta,” or fake Instagram account, is another private account reserved for children for selected friends. This is not the account they allow their parents to follow. A finsta carries racial material, sometimes inappropriate, that adults never see. Even when adults feel they are monitoring their accounts, there is still a risk of a child creating an unstable situation for themselves.

Some of my clients express radical or extreme views on even these more anonymous accounts, from polarizing political ideology to accounts targeting certain groups, often girls. I have worked with some children who have been caught with one of these accounts by a member of their school or family. The damage to targets can be far-reaching.

Teens with negative body image may experience depression as adults, study finds

The overarching point is that Instagram leads to social and emotional landmines for even the most mature and emotionally stable of our teens.

Now talking about Instagram Kids, which is available for 10 to 12 year olds. The usefulness of such networks is questionable at best. Our teens are hardly ready for the emotional repercussions of Instagram. I shudder to think that an app like this would negatively impact the psyche of our pre-teens.

And we must remember that many pre-teens are already on Instagram, either lying about their age or through Finsta accounts. Exposing even small children to Instagram seems like an unnecessary risk, at least.

Don’t dismiss your kids’ concerns

I’ve worked with some parents whose children have openly told them in sessions that Instagram has a strong negative impact on their emotional well-being and shared many stories about the way they feel about themselves. Like described above. Sometimes parents confide in them without question.

Other times, parents dismiss their child’s concerns. These parents tell me they think social media is a silly, silly place to gain a sense of your self-worth. And it could be true.

But what they don’t understand is that social media is a core component of the world our children live in. And Instagram is now an important way for them to engage socially. When kids say they feel like they’re missing out on social while not on Instagram—an important part of their social lives—it’s their truth.

talk to your kids

Talk openly with your kids about both the advantages and disadvantages of Instagram and other social media. And make yourself available to listen to them. Of course, parents of kids who are struggling with their Instagram presence can also acknowledge how difficult it must be for them, as well as point to the many positive ways they can see their child. Huh.

Parents can also ensure that they provide their children with several streams of self-esteem in addition to social media. These can include extra-curricular activities such as sports, drama, music or the arts — anything that has more agency than the number of likes and followers they have on Instagram.

I also urge parents to take smartphones and iPads from their children’s rooms at night. These electronic detoxes will keep them from falling into some of the self-esteem traps described here, to be sure. As an added bonus, Your baby is likely to sleep well too.

The more opportunities children have to earn self-worth outside the realm of Instagram, the more active they are to the negative potential impact of that site.


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