Photo effects and filters on mental health presented by Madison Moyer. (Abigail Gallup)
Photo effects and filters on mental health presented by Madison Moyer.

Abigail Gallup

How Do Filters And Photo Effects Affect Teens’ Mental Health? 

March 2, 2022

Social media has been growing in popularity ever since it was introduced. The most frequently used websites amongst teens are Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok. These platforms have increased significantly and offer many unique features that keep people interested. Most of these features are high-quality filters and editing tools that allow users to achieve the ‘perfect photo.’ People can change any ‘imperfection’ with just a click of a button. Even though these added features may seem helpful, they are actually extremely damaging to our collective mental health.

 

The Growth of Social Media

Instagram (Wikipedia Commons)

Instagram was released in 2010 and racked up a total of 25,000 users in one day. They now have roughly one billion active users around the world. 

Snapchat (Wikipedia Commons)

 

Snapchat followed a year later and gained even more popularity. Snapchat annual users have ranked in over 293 million users worldwide. 

 

TikTok (Wikipedia Commons)

Tiktok was launched in 2018 after being known as Musically two years prior. It now has around one billion active users as of this year. 

 

Rising Popularity in Filters and Editing

All these apps offer a wide variety of filters that range from classic black and white or another color editing, all the way to face-alerting effects that can change the way you appear to others. These effects can stretch one’s face shape, eyes, or lips and completely revise a person. Some alerting filters add ‘makeup’ to your face or give one’s lips a ‘plumping’ effect. These applications allow users to soften fine lines and wrinkles, transform their skin tone, and adjust assorted aspects of their physical appearance. Usually, the names of these filters are something along the lines of ‘pretty makeup’ or ‘flawless beauty.’ Even the names are harmful and can be misleading for users. These filters present young audiences on social media with a false beauty standard.

An example of a popular Snapchat filter morphing a person’s face shape. (newstatesman.com)

The most habituated editing apps are Facetune and Face App. These sites offer a wide variety of tools and photoshop techniques. You can smooth blemishes or unwanted eye bags, whiten teeth, remove things from the photo, add colors or defined details, and finally, you can ‘reshape’ anything you want. 

 

Mental Health Effects

Teenagers everywhere are constantly scrolling through these media, flooding their brains with unnecessary and harmful information. Studies exhibit that a pessimistic body image creates a higher risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidal beliefs in teens, along with numerous other disorders. Doctors and cosmetic surgeons have raised concerns around body dysmorphic disorder, frequently referenced as BDD. This disorder is the excessive preoccupation with imagined flaws in one’s appearance. Living with BDD can leave someone spending hours a day obsessing over their flaws, looking at themselves in the mirror and studying their reflection, or even obsessing over what outfit they might be wearing and if it looks good on them or not. People who struggle with this usually stumble with their confidence and carry a lot of insecurities with them. Another common problem caused by these effects is disordered eating. These eating habits are a spectrum of irregular behaviors that may or may not affirm a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder. Long-term issues can be detrimental and leave a person with not only mental difficulties but also physical ones. Not eating properly can renounce someone with anemia, infertility, or even insufficient dental health. People everywhere compare themselves to the false standard that has been maybe by today’s society. They are aligning themselves with fake and edited pictures. Comparing yourself to the impossible is draining and unattainable. 

 

Physical Effects

Data has shown us that there has been a rise in-clinic treatments. More and more people are getting procedures to alter their faces permanently. The most asked for treatments according to plastic surgeons are dermal fillers or PDO threads. These treatments are done to enhance a person’s lips and make them more prominent. They can also be used for sculpting cheekbones and getting rid of unwanted neck fat. 

 

Remember #NoFilter

After consistently scrolling aimlessly through social media, we are left dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with ourselves and our lives. Social media places us in an endless loop of self-comparison, which can be challenging to get out of. Remember that what you see is very likely to be fake and deceiving. Studies show that 90% of women today have reported using filters on their photos and posts. Filters and other editing tools are undoubtedly fun and entertaining to explore, however, they don’t dictate how we really look. The best version of yourself is unedited.

Is Social Media Responsible For Your Own Perception Of Your Body?

Abigail Gallup

Is social media responsible for our body image?

Is Social Media Responsible For Your Own Perception Of Your Body?

Insecurities – we all have them. Whether those are insecurities about your hair, or certain anxieties, or the most common one in our society, our bodies and the emotions that follow. We follow celebrities on popular sites such as Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat etc. and we are surrounded by not only their perfect lives, but their somehow perfect bodies as well. When I see these people post, I always find myself sitting with a lot of shame for myself and even get disgusted by my own body. After sitting with these feelings for a while, I have come to the conclusion that social media is a big part of the blame for these insecurities.

There are a lot of advantages to social media. Whether that is communication with people who don’t live near you, keeping up with news, what’s currently popular, and much more. Social media has become a fun escape from daily life where you find yourself entertained with videos such as the latest Disney movie or new trends that have been formed. With all of these advantages, a lot of disadvantages follow. 

As said in Insider, A negative body image can cause unrealistic expectations of how your body should look and could lead to unhealthy behaviors, like disordered eating. A small 2018 study found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and disordered eating. This was especially true if participants were scrolling through appearance-related content, like the account of a fitness instructor or model on Instagram.” Further into the article, it shows more about how social media truly affects mental health and can cause more insecurity and body dysmorphia. We follow people that post pictures of their edited bodies. 

Mental health is a priority! (Wikipedia Commons)

How are we supposed to learn to love ourselves and our flaws when we are always seeing these “perfect” people? The answer is simple, minimize the viewing of people posting their somewhat “perfect” bodies, and learn to love the one we already have.
Social media has become a toxic environment when it comes to body image, and we need to work on being more inclusive and positive about our bodies just the way they are as they are – that is definitely easier said than done. It’s not as simple as turning off an ‘on’ switch to stop years of insecurity or just to switch every platform to become more body conscious and provide a more positive upbringing.

  One day, I found myself scrolling through Instagram. Nothing new, just checking in on what’s new and what my friends are doing. After a couple minutes, I found myself falling into the fitness and “healthy bodies” side of my feed. I started to fill up with emotions and insecurity. Was my body not “healthy?” Why didn’t I look like all of these people with “perfect” bodies? Why don’t I like myself as much as these other people? All of these questions filled my mind and I feel myself sitting, overwhelmed. After communicating with a few of my peers about these issues, I realized that this was a more common occurrence than I had originally thought. 

I decided to create a survey with the question, “Do you think Social Media affects how you perceive your body/insecurities?” which I had sent out to many of my school peers. After getting over 70 responses, I saw we were all more similar than I had believed. 58 people had agreed that social media affected their insecurities and 14 had said that it doesn’t. Seeing how many people agreed with my opinion, made me come to grips with just how common this issue is.

The perception of perfection has been rooted through teenagers from social media and this recurrence needs to be improved in the future. We need to encourage body positivity and that everybody is a beautiful body.

Kids on the Web

Wikipedia Commons

Kids on the web…. how are they protected?

Kids on the Web

Social media isn’t designed for young users. Apps like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have been growing in popularity within an incredibly young audience. Whether it’s the ads that aren’t always kid-friendly or the dangers of interacting with strangers, the internet isn’t a safe space for young minds. Making a change is crucial for the safety of our future generations, but is making social media applications designed for children a step in the right direction? 

Many parents and children argue that social media is all for fun and games. Social media gives its users a way to connect with others, usually based on similar interests. It is seen as a space where they can upload content and create their digital footprint.

Facebook is currently working on a version of Instagram targeted at the audience that doesn’t meet the age requirement: children under 13. In a statement released by Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, “We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older”. With the increasing rate of technology, children are having online social lives at younger ages than ever before. Whether they’re playing Fortnite in a lobby or enjoying themselves in a Roblox server, they are online and unknowingly facing harm. 

Instagram Kids plans to rely on parental supervision tools and focus on creating “age-appropriate experiences” for tweens. This being said, the app will be planned to require a parent’s permission to create an account, won’t have ads, and will give parents the ability to see their child’s activity on the app (followers, chats, and more). 

Many criticize the current existence of social media apps catered for children. Throughout the years, Google’s Youtube Kids has made news headlines for showing young children violent and sexual cartoons. People have learned to manipulate the app to get inappropriate content on kids’ screens. Youtube Kids has since stated that after a video gets flagged, it is manually reviewed and that “any videos that don’t belong in the app” are removed within hours. 

How will the major companies respond to the call to protect children on the internet? (Wikipedia Commons)

Facebook’s own Messenger Kids describe themselves as a “safer app for kids to connect, communicate and play with family and friends”. However, safety is never guaranteed, hence the word “safer”. Messenger Kids has also faced its own set of problems- more specifically, how easy it is to get inappropriate content past the filters. Inappropriate content is said to be removed in less than a few hours and results in the account being disabled. 

Although the support teams of these apps catered to kids are said to be quick and efficient, there is a lack of consideration for the children who were exposed to such content. There is no way to prevent these occurrences despite the app’s filters. Strangers with the intent to show children inappropriate content will figure their way around any obstacles in doing so. The lack of consequences is what makes this so common. 

The proposition of Instagram Kids has faced backlash from lawmakers. Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal along with U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor and Lori Trahan attended a hearing on Instagram’s impact on youth in May of 2021. Senator Ed Markey is notorious for prioritizing the safety of children online, being one of the original sponsors of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that was enacted in 1998. This act protects children under 13 from accessing the internet and prevents the collection of personal information online. The lawmakers stated: 

“Facebook has a clear record of failing to protect children on its platforms,” “When it comes to putting people before profits, Facebook has forfeited the benefit of the doubt, and we strongly urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for kids.” 

Lawmakers continued to express concern about the fact that certain content could affect a child’s health. A child’s mind is too impressionable to face the internet by themselves. Whether it’s eating disorders, self-harm, or even dangerous stunts, seeing certain acts may cause encouragement and end in unnecessary trauma. 

After facing backlash, the making of Instagram Kids has been put on hold since September of 2021. They claim to be working on the app’s design to make it more child-appropriate and to work out any possible loopholes. It is unknown when the final version will be released, but time will tell when they try to get it approved by lawmakers once again. 

Simply put, there are too many downsides to creating social media platforms designed for children. The potential harm to a child’s mental health and to privacy is too much for child safety experts and lawmakers to bear. While it is important to recognize that young children play a large role in online presence, we shouldn’t leave room for a single flaw in the app’s design that would potentially put a child in harm’s way. 

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About the Contributors
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Madison Moyer, Managing Editor

Madison Moyer is a senior at Marco Island Academy and Managing Editor for The Wave. When she’s not babysitting, she often spends time with her friends...

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Abigail Gallup, Editor in Chief

Abigail Gallup is a senior at Marco Island Academy and the Editor-in-Chief for The Wave. She loves to edit and produce great content for The Wave. She...

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Rachel Weiner, Contributing Writer

Rachel Weiner is a senior at Marco Island Academy and a contributing writer for The Wave. In her free time, she enjoys doing theatre. She plans to major...

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Paola Cortazar, Opinions Editor

Paola Cortazar is a senior at Marco Island Academy and the Opinion Editor for The Wave. She enjoys working hard to get good grades in all of her classes...

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