How can parents help with young people's body image issues
It’s important that parents understand and embrace how social media affects young people, because it is young people's accepted currency of communication today (see Why is social media important to young people?).
Johanna Kandel, founder of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, stresses the value of having two-way discussions with your child about social media use. “Having these types of conversations is an opportunity to teach your daughter how to build her self-worth from the inside out,” she says.
Her advice is not to judge your child but instead ask questions about the impact social media has on them. How does it feel when someone approves of your picture? Why does it feel important to stay connected to your friends online? How many times a day do you compare yourself to someone else? Have you ever felt worse about yourself after scrolling through a social media site? This kind of empowered awareness can help inform a young person's choices.
Learn more about how social media affects young people by reading How does social media affect teens?
The social media impact on young people needn’t be negative. While acknowledging its downsides, Kandel believes social media can also be positive and inspiring for young people. “You can help your daughter harness that perspective too, by encouraging her to post inspirational quotes or uplifting messages,” she suggests. “This may not only feel empowering for her, but it can also help inspire her friends.”
Author: Jess Weiner, Dove Global Self-Esteem Expert
Action checklist: Starting conversations about body image and social media