Research shows spending more than 2 hours on social media can take toll on girls

Research shows spending more than 2 hours on social media can take toll on girls

Time spent on social media is taking a toll on young girls. They are bombarded by images of perfection, unattainable beauty and the notion they should always be happy. And girls are handling that pressure differently than boys.

"I really cared about the amount of likes I got. And I would constantly be checking," said high school junior Annie Stein.

High school freshman Claire Gallion says it's a constant cycle of post pictures, get like and instant feedback then repeat.

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"I'll see someone else from my school and they have like 50 comments and they'll be like ‘wow cutie' with heart eyes emoji or ‘you're so beautiful'. And, I don't get comments like that," said Claire Gallion.

The process of posting pics and getting likes is now a part of everyone's life. But for young girls still trying to figure out who they are, that process is the pressure of perfection.

"All the influences coming at me," said Gallion. "Not just from social media but from ads and magazines and TV shows."

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It can feel like an avalanche of messaging in the palm of our hands that's leading young people to compare themselves to each other and false ideals.

Michelle Cove is with Media Girls, a non-profit that is boosting girls' self-worth and trying to fix the way girls feel about themselves.

"Basically girls are spending an average of 8-10 hours consuming media today," said Cove. "Most of that media is telling girls they need to be hot and thin to matter."

Cove said a conversation with her daughter when she was just 9-years old brought it all into focus.

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"When I stand up straight, my thighs touch. Something is wrong," said Cove. "It was heartbreaking how young that message had seeped in. Girls tell us the thing that they like the least about social media is how fake it is, how curated. And how they want to feel connected to other girls and it makes them feel the opposite. What we say back is what if didn't."

One lesson Media Girls teaches young girls is how to make media what they want it to be.

"You're the ones to changes this," said Cove. "I think they like the power of that."

Experts don't always push for parents of girls to ban them from social media. They say there is value in connecting with other people, but parents should talk to their kids about how much time they spend online.

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