Puckered lips and selfie sticks - social media is a child's worst enemy.

Published by: Rebecca Borg / La Trobe University Victoria / Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) | 16-Aug-2019
When I think of childhood, I think of building sandcastles on the beach on a hot summer's day. The sound of laughter at playgrounds. Running and dancing. Children being children. Never would I have imagined innocent faces all dolled up, acting 20 instead of 12 while little boys pump weights believing that this is the solution to overcoming their insecurities. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the stresses of children in 2019. @rebeccaaborg #puckeredlips #selfiesticks #childrentoday #socialissues
10 years ago, we blamed magazines and Barbie dolls for delivering unrealistic representations of both sexes. We thought that maybe, if we expose photoshopping and design dolls without skinny figures, children would understand that, as humans, we are all different.

So what is the reason this time? Two words, eleven letters, we can access it everywhere. In our homes, on the streets, within the grasp of our ten-year-olds' hands. You guessed it, social media.

Youth mental health expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg in an interview with ABC News believes that children below the age of 12 should not have access to any form of social media.

"You have got up to 60 percent to 70 percent of primary school kids on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and they simply do not have the neurological maturity to manage their digital footprint," he said.

Girls as young as eight are begging their mothers to buy them makeup and dye their hair all while they believe that they are overweight, their self-perception of their own body depreciated by Instagram models just as young as them.

Melinda Tankard Reist in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald believes that social media is moulding a mentally unhealthy generation. "They feel they have to be on display. We live in a culture that rewards exhibitionism [and] everyone is judged on their physical appearance,'' she said.

Boys too are pressurised by this common stereotype associated with masculinity. That is, strong, tough and bulk. If a boy is skinny he may perceive himself as inadequate, this perception of self, again, determined by posts on social media.

Clinical Psychologist Louise Adam in an interview with Daily Telegraph is prompting youths and parents to work together to create a healthier approach towards social media.

"Social media is here to stay so the best thing you can do for your child is to teach them how to live with it in harmony," she said.

Perhaps we, as adults, should remove the puppy filter from our selfies, clear the filters from our photos and stop setting unrealistic expectations for future generations. After all, we are role models for our children and their lack of self-esteem is potentially a result of our own doing. It is time to bring out the sand buckets, go back to playing outside and restore the sound of laughter. We all have experienced childhood and now it is time for our children to enjoy theirs.

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