How Girls Are Seeking (and Subverting) Approval Online
What You Can Do
Talk about the pictures they post. Experimenting with identity is natural, and it’s very common for kids to adopt provocative stances in cell phone pictures, on their social network pages, and in YouTube videos. But are they doing it only because they think others expect it of them? What pose would they strike if they could do anything they wanted?
Ask how feedback makes them feel. Are they stressed out by others’ comments and feedback? Does it make them feel better to be “liked?” Why is external approval important? How do negative comments make them feel?
Help them develop a healthy self-image. Body image is developed early in childhood, and the family environment is very influential on how kids view themselves. Emphasize what the body can do instead of what it looks like. Also, be careful of criticizing your own looks and weight.
Rely on role models. Positive role models have an enormous effect on kids. Cultivate relationships with women your daughter can look up to. Also, point out celebrities and other famous folks who challenge stereotypes about size and beauty and seem comfortable in their own skins.
Help them stop the cycle. Urge them to post constructive comments that support their friends for who they are, not what they look like.
Help them view media critically. Talk about over-sexualized images or unrealistic body ideals of girls in the media. Explore websites such as the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media and the Representation Project that promote the importance of positive body image and valuing women for their contributions to society.