Social Media Depressed My 11-Year-Old Girl.

I work in a workplace with four girls, five if you count my boss. These girls are all super skinny, trendsetters and up to date with social media networking. They are run of the mill, valley girls with low self-confidence who post model pictures on their Instagram daily and await likes eagerly. They go to the best coffee shops, take stunning pictures of their food and dress up in super fancy clothes just to go for a drink. Little 11-year-old girls are all staying inside to make sure their makeup is on point, they have the best selfie or shopping for the cutest puppy earrings to make their followers jealous. They have friends over to give them company but are they really giving them happiness? How comfortable could you be if you feel like your best friend is judging the selfie you took with your puppy? Or that the guy you really like in class didn’t like your new profile picture yet online? Girls ages 1-13 need to focus on being children and learning. BBC News says, “Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health.”

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Gif by Miracow from Reddit

Girls can start the constant battle of depression at such an early age, even before puberty has time to take full effect. Which means that these Instagram models that have their own makeup teams and airbrush specialists give the image of what is to be normal online. These poor girls get so twisted trying to understand self-image, popularity and even how to react to others online that they lose focus of what really matters. Insulting their peers that obviously don’t meet their requirements of beauty can be a toxic effect of social media. Child Mind Institute says “image-driven Instagram shows up in surveys as the platform that most leads young people to report feeling anxiety, depression and worries about body image”. Social media at such an early age has also inflicted girls to struggle with isolation, self-esteem, concentration, healthy activity and sleep deprivation.
Cyberbullying and body dissatisfaction. I’ve noticed something about the girls at my work, they have slits on their wrists, long nails they cannot work with, go to the gym with makeup on and even wear eyelash extensions. These girls, by the way, are teens going into young adulthood. They practice self-hate all the time because they never see themselves reach the level of beauty they have seen is accepted. The Guardian says, “Girls aged 11, 12 and 13 displayed a “gender-specific vulnerability”, triggered by the onset of puberty, which made them much more likely to worry, sometimes intensely, about their appearance around the time they started secondary school”. It’s not only self-image that is a problem, but its also cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying from boys playing mean pranks, other girls who are jealous, and even random strangers online. Scary mommy says, “Notes slipped into lockers, anonymous phone calls, and the rumor mill was all in fair play. And bullying could still be as cruel as anything. But back then, I believe it was harder to get away with the meanest stuff than it is today, when all you have to do is leave one nasty comment on someone’s social media account and hundreds of kids immediately see it (and also have the ability to screenshot, share, and pass it along).” That is intense pressure on somebody who is still trying to learn how to grow into her personality.

 

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Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

How do we stop it? Or at least slow it down? Well, when you know something has a risk of affecting your child in a negative way, you would try to minimize the problem or eliminate it. Since social media can simply not be eliminated, its time to really get strict with her amount of use. Make sure your children have a strong core balanced with online time and offline time. Outside activities or events with friends can be a great way to get your child outside in the sun and forget about all that pressure of being a girl. Also, try putting your child’s device to do not disturb mode to remove some of those engaging notification alerts that can easily help them lose their focus. Teach your young child how to properly use social media and be open to all questions they may have regarding the topic. Let them understand that these pictures aren’t of real, natural woman and that every woman is different. Show them beauty is what’s on the other side of the screen not on it. Another thing I have found very helpful is no phone during super, family events or bedtime to really help them understand that a phone isn’t something you need to use for everything just because you can.

 

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5 thoughts on “Social Media Depressed My 11-Year-Old Girl.

  1. Hi Caileigh
    This is a interesting post because Depression and social media is such an important topic. I agree with you that the feelings of inferiority experienced by young women is exacerbated by the images they see on Instagram or of their peers. Puberty is such a tough time for growing girls that they don’t need to feel inadequate because they are comparing themselves to unrealistic ideals. I’ve had to deal with this in my own girls who, as much as we’ve tried to do everything, lacked confidence and dealt with depression. Those feelings of inadequacy get heightened when they immerse themselves in different forms of social media. They’re both pretty girls but feel ugly in comparison to what they see online and they simply cannot accept their looks. Perhaps I felt that way too when I was younger as self-acceptance may be a maturity thing, but with the advent of social media, being happy with who you are is much more difficult. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Lynn

    • Thanks for reaching out to me! I’m so sorry to hear your own girls have struggled with depression, that’s so unfortunate. I hope they made it through okay and they love their beautiful selves again! Thanks for sharing Lynn!

  2. As I said, I’m not sure they’re that much different from other girls their age – some show it more than others. My kids are very open with us about it we are encouraging them and providing as much positive feedback as possible. It helps that the stigma is loosening somewhat with campaigns like Bell’s Let’s Talk. So social media can have a positive influence as well by spreading awareness and support for many health issues.

  3. I believe it is pretty tragic the way that social media can effect not only young girls, but, people of both genders and all ages. I am sorry to hear about your situation and I hope it only gets better. It is important for these young girls to see that social media is only showing the positive aspects of peoples life. It is so competitive and posed. Excellent work, anyways. Thanks for Sharing!

  4. Thank you for taking the time to speak about this topic. I consider myself and friends extremely lucky to have grown up just before the days of social media began. Bullying back then was bad enough. I cannot even imagine how tough kids and teens have it. Talk about being force-fed these unrealistic images of perfection. Really glad you saw an issue and took action, that’s half the battle.

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