Beware Parents: Filters On Social Media Could Be Harmful For Your Kids.

George Enrique

Filters on social media, good or bad?

The next time you see a picture on social media of a person that you admire, think twice because it’s possible that’s not the way that person looks like in real life.

A report conducted by London’s Gender and Sexuality Research Center, revealed that 90% of women reported using filters on their social media to some how alter the look of their face or body. 

Why are people changing the way they look on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat? Some people are changing the way they look on social media because they want to appear younger, prettier and even thinner. 

Advances in artificial intelligence, in the past couple of years, has made this task extremely easy to do. Even a child could do it. 

What are filters on social media and how do they work?

Filters, also known as appearance-altering filters, are online editing tools, similar to photoshop, that can change the look of your face or body in a picture. 

These filters are commonly used to make a person’s teeth look whiter, to fix imperfections on a person’s face or to make a person look thinner. 

As social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok have become increasingly more popular, so have these filters, especially with the younger generation. 

The Dove Self-Esteem Project conducted a study in 2020 that revealed that approximately 80 percent of teenage girls have downloaded a filter or used an appearance altering app by the age of 13.

What affects can these filters have on our kids?

A 2017 study published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, found that people who overuse these filters to alter their looks on social media can develop self-esteem problems, provoke anxiety, provoke eating disorders and even promote over exercising. 

In addition, the use of these filters can contribute to the creation of a distorted reality, where people present an idealized version of themselves online. This can lead to the development of unrealistic expectations and can cause people to feel inadequate or unhappy with their own lives when they compare themselves to the filtered versions of others. 

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With all this evidence, supporting that filters can have a negative affect on our kids emotional, psychological and, social development, what can parents do to protect their kids from the dangers of these filters?

As parents, we first have to realize that adults are being negatively affected by the overuse of these filters, so imagine how much more it could be affecting younger kids who are still in the developing stages. 

Some experts highlight that having constant communications with their kids about how these filters work and how they can negatively affect a person’s development is a good place to start. 

Some experts even suggest having opening ended questions with their kids about this topic. For example, a guardian/parent can say to their child, "It looks likes this person you know uses a lot of filters on their social media pictures to change their looks. What do you think about that? Do you think that’s good think to do?” This allows for a back and forward communication with their kids and helps bring awareness to this problem. 

Mary Beth DeWitt, a psychologist at Dayton Children's Hospital shares that research suggests that the use of social media by kids is largely unrestricted by parents. 

Parents should definitely be more involved on how their kids are using social media apps. One place to start is by taking advantage of the parental controls on their kids devices and be controlling what apps they can use or not use. 

Finally, giving your child a smart phone at a very early age may not be necessarily a wise move. So some parents are starting their young kids with starter phones that look like smart phones but can only be use to text and call. Once the child starts showing signs of maturity and they start learning the pros and cons of today’s digital world, the parent can then upgrade the child to a real smart phone. 

Do whatever it takes to protect you children from the dangers of todays digital world. If you don’t, nobody will.

About The Author

George Enrique is a contributor and a parent to a 12 year old girl.