Why Do Children Share Our Beauty Standards?

Social media’s effect on adults is often talked about, with constant access to unhealthy beauty standards, and the fixation on always looking as good as possible. However, this effect doesn’t only hurt you and me, but also the younger generations.


For the past few years, there has been a growing trend in young girls and boys to look like the influences we see on sites like Instagram and Vogue. Although being natural for younger people to look for influence, the common aesthetic found in social media is that of a more promiscuous nature.



Social media and body image


Social media’s negative effect towards body image is almost a known fact in our day and age. Sites like Instagram have changed over the years, going from a fun place to message friends to a hyper-toxic environment used to push forward agendas and share ‘perfect body ideals’. Knowing this most people, including myself, still use these apps to look at popular posts and trends, absorbing every word of toxicity in the meantime. Although we may think we can look past these more negative traits, we still find ourselves being affected by them, causing our perception of ourselves and others to change.


What makes these interactions so much more dangerous is that the posts we come across and compare ourselves to are not always what they seem. Given the impact, a simple image can cause today – such as Kim Kardashian’s infamous “Break the internet” – tools that can enhance images are used more than ever. So not only are we comparing ourselves to unhealthy lifestyles, but also to unrealistic goals and bodies.


In combination, the image editing and general mass of imagery we perceive daily have caused a complete change in our self-perception and has even contributed to the development of mental and physical issues in those who never had these issues in confidence. Luckily, being an adult and viewing these ideals means we are more able to confide in ourselves and keep our heads above water, using our experiences and maturity to help prevent these potential dangers.


Children and social media


Unlike us, children don’t have the experience and maturity to fall back on. When they see the content out there and become influenced they can’t reason with themselves about how unhealthy or unrealistic their goals may be. In any other sphere, this would be a great thing, children having curiosity and lofty ambitions. On this side, however, it causes younger minds to become dissatisfied with themselves and their looks. In the developing years, starting unhealthy habits like some influencer lifestyles can lead to plenty of issues moving on with their self-confidence and physical health.


With social media being so accessible to anyone and having little to no limitations on the level of editing that content can go under, it has become a pool of confidence shredding material for any child that finds themselves on a platform. Most of us can think back to a time we’ve felt insecure about ourselves, with that time usually being when we were young. Looking at the younger generation, most would say they have faced these insecure moments multiple times already, without even reaching the age of 18.


Social media’s effects on us are just as bad on children, and there has been a growing trend of people facing self-confidence issues at younger and younger ages, with the common element in play being the access to sites like Instagram and seeing pictures of models and influencers. By comparing themselves to these more extreme lifestyles, there has been a growing rate of dissatisfaction with weight and appearance. The difference in maturity between us and children also plays a role in the way children will handle these feelings and the actions they take to help themselves.


Children are far more susceptible to unhealthy thinking, with elements like perfectionism clouding rational judgement and preventing them from being able to function without things being seamless. Perfectionism is a personality trait that can be paired with mental issues such as anxiety and depression, as people who are seen as perfectionists are less likely to motivate themselves to complete a task out of fear they may fail. This is usually something that maturity and experience over many years will combat and instead be replaced with healthier personality traits such as optimism.


By having continual access to social media, children are developing more and more unhealthy traits in their personalities, and become susceptible to dangerous habits in the future which can negatively affect their physical and mental states. This snowballs into later life, and can completely break them down before they're old enough to face the feelings they have, and lead to them requiring greater help than usual down the line - with processes such as therapy.