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Don't Cop Out. Time To Talk About Social Media Filters And Self-Esteem.

A girl edits her features using social media filters

We all know it's a problem. Social media filters are everywhere, and they impact our kids' self-esteem. To make things worse, we’re naturally becoming desensitized to them as they become normal parts of our lives. Unfiltered pictures are rare while filtered ones fill up our own (and our kids') social media feeds.

If thinking about tackling the issue of social media filters and self-esteem fills you with hopelessness, you're not alone. Still, you probably need to remember a key ingredient in this fight. YOU. Yep, you have more power than you imagine to help your kids build healthy self-esteem. You don't have to sit idly by, watching the harmful effects of filters on your kids. How?

Don't cop out on the talk about social media filters and self-esteem.

Here's the truth. 80% of parents have the "sex talk" with their kids, but only 30% talk about healthy social media habits 1. Is there a direct correlation between that percentage and these stats?

A girl takes multiple selfies with her smartphone

We sure think they're related! Parents, we're simply not doing enough to help our kids combat the self-doubt and low self-esteem that social media exposes them to.

Before you rip the smartphone out of your kid's hands, the answer isn't to take social media away. Remember how we were impacted by TV commercials, magazines, and hurtful comments when we were teens? Unless you choose to live under a rock, you can't completely protect your kid from developing low self-esteem. The answer is to tackle the issue head-on.


Expose them to the truth about social media and beauty filters.

It's time to become one of those 30% who talk to their kids about social media and its effect on mental health and self-esteem. But be warned! It's not enough to have a one-time conversation and then walk away, patting yourself on the back. Social media is woven throughout our kids' everyday experiences, constantly desensitizing them to the use of filters, so "the talk" should happen almost as regularly.


Discuss how social media profits off low self-esteem.

It's a well-known truth. Social media companies make billions of dollars off their users and do not intend to stop. By designing their algorithms to capitalize on negative feelings and body image issues, they keep kids scrolling instead of providing a healthy environment that leaves them with a greater sense of self-worth and a decreased desire to be on their phones. Now, we know this, but do our kids? If we haven't talked to them, they probably won't.

Now's your chance to tap into the rebellious streak your tween or teen probably has (you know, the one that drives you crazy sometimes) and guide it to reject the poor body image social media promotes. Kids hate being controlled, but they may not realize that's precisely what is happening to them on social media platforms. By revealing the truth that they're being made to feel bad about themselves, they'll likely respond by thinking something like, "I see through this scheme. I will make my own decisions about who I want to be." This attitude empowers them to break the cycle and choose self-confidence.

This isn't going to happen overnight, especially as social media filters continue to become the norm. Your kid will undoubtedly get sucked back into social comparison so keep reminding them to practice self-compassion and recognize that social media is designed to create low self-esteem. It's not about perfection but creating a habit of disconnecting from the constant comparison of unrealistic beauty standards to be their authentic self.


Combat low self-esteem by showing the reality of social media beauty filters.

It might seem like it, but you're not the only one fighting the impact of social media on your kids' self-esteem. As the technology becomes more subtle and we become more desensitized to it, social media influencers are showing how much a beauty filter adjusts body shape or facial features by posting the same photo before and after editing. Others reveal the poses and tricks people use to appear skinnier in pictures.

Find these social media accounts and show them to your kids. Don't make a mistake and assume your kids have seen this content. On social media, the opposite often happens. Kids with low self-esteem tend to be dragged into a black hole of filtered photos as the algorithms on these platforms adapt to continually show content that is damaging to their body image. As they get sucked further into this cycle, your kid may not be able to tell the difference between a filter and reality anymore. Help break the power of social media and show how easily beauty filters change someone's body shape or facial features. Begin restoring their self-esteem by constantly reminding them that social media shows them a curated snapshot of perfection instead of real life.


Building up your kid's self-esteem takes commitment to constantly discussing social media filters.

We won't lie. Battling low self-esteem will be a constant fight as social media becomes further integrated into our kids' everyday lives but don't give up hope. You are the secret weapon making a difference in their lives. Don't shy away from the topic of social media filters and self-esteem but tackle it head-on through regular, loving conversations with your kids. You've got this; we believe in you!