My daughter is 14, and I hear the comments floating out of her bedroom—where she gathers with her friends after school—pretty much on the regular.
"She's SO pretty."
"OMG look how skinny!"
"Ugh how does she still look so perfect when she's making an ugly face?"
They sit on her bed, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through their Instagram and Facebook feeds, checking out the images of girls they barely know—or sometimes don't know at all—and then comparing themselves to see how they measure up.
It's no wonder, then, that according to The Good Childhood Report 2016, published by the Children's Society, 10- to 15-year-old heavy social media users—defined as kids who are on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter more than three hours a night, and who are twice as likely to be girls—are less happy with their appearance than the ones who stay offline.
In fact, only 53 percent of the heavy users reported being satisfied with their looks, compared to 82 percent of those who only dabbled in social media. And that's not all—the heavy users were also twice as likely to misbehave in class, and more likely to argue with their parents—with 44 percent of them admitting to fighingt with their mom more than once a week.
The survey of 3,500 children also revealed that 5 percent of the social media ninjas don't feel supported by their family, and that 17 percent are bullied 'a lot' or 'quite a lot,' compared with only 11 percent of the casual users.
Make no mistake, it's a tough time to be a teen! However, the study did reveal one possible upside to spending so much time logged on: 90 percent of the heavy users said they wanted to go to college, compared to 87 percent of the most modest users and 82 percent of those who avoided social networks altogether.
Maybe they understand that brains trump beauty, after all.