Social Media Causes Girls to Grow Up Faster

Social+Media+Causes+Girls+to+Grow+Up+Faster

Challis Payne, Staff Writer

Modern technological advancements have their benefits for the up and coming generations. With the use of technology, information has never been easier to access, people have the entire world at their fingertips. However, with technology came the development of a new modern society embedded within the digital world and social media. Paired together, technology and social media can be considered powerful tools. The issue that seems to be developing is that in order to keep up with the advancing world, younger kids are being allowed to access social media at earlier ages than ever before. This potentially stops them from being kids and the question has been asked –  is this online world forcing kids, specifically girls, to grow up faster? 

Girls today often look way older than they actually are. Eleven-year-olds with the dangerous ability to not only make themselves appear as though they are 16, but act like it too. Growing up is on a fast track, just like everything else in our world. The world of technology has allowed for a new type of superstar to emerge known as influencers, who now stand alongside role models and even sometimes mainstream celebrities. Young girls have the ability to go onto apps like Instagram and TikTok and see more mature girls, either the same age or older than themselves, and mimick their behavior. Social media is filled with new rules that encourage social ranking and showcase the unrealistic way women are depicted in media, advertising, pop culture, and even video games. Commercial images of women are often manipulated by people hoping to make a profit. This teaches young girls that in order to be noticed you need to do certain things, like wear makeup and revealing clothes, all in an effort to fit in and be liked.

Social media poses different challenges, largely because girls themselves are creating and commenting on their own images. On platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, appearance can almost become a competitive sport, as girls fight for emojis, ‘likes’, and followers. Selfies, in particular, encourage girls to compare themselves to other girls at their most attractive, and it doesn’t take long to find out that being skinny, competent with make-up, clothed in exposing attire, or positioned in a provocative pose is the fastest way to receive more ‘likes.’ A 2012 survey by Common Sense Media found that among teens who post online, 35 percent  are worried about being tagged in unattractive photos and 27 percent feel anxious about their appearance in posted photos, and a 25 percent take it personally when their photos are ignored. Children are increasingly conforming to what they see on the internet. The images they see on the internet become a perceived need, encouraging them to lose themselves in order to conform to what social media says they should be. 

Young and impressionable minds are unable to comprehend their own sense of individuality. Their standards of who they should be are based on what they observe online. As a result, young girls are pressured to conform to age-inappropriate values. Most of the time, these young girls are not yet aware of the additional dangers that lurk in the corners of the internet, as they are just following what they observe. While there is no way to prevent social media’s widespread use and unavoidable influence, there are steps that can be taken.

Parents should be encouraged to sit down with their children and talk about their own personal experiences regarding insecurities they may have as well as expose their children to how most of what they see online is false. They should educate themselves on how apps and even streaming platforms have built-in safety mechanisms that allow for safe, age-appropriate content to be viewed. Meetings can be set up by high school students to talk to younger girls where they explain these insecurities are okay, allowing for positive role models and influencers to become more of a fixture in their life. 

Yes, young girls are being forced to grow up faster thanks to the societal pressures of technology and social media, and while there is no way to stop it, there are ways to slow it and encourage young girls to stay true to themselves and enjoy their childhood.