Over the years, we’ve shared our concerns with kids on Snapchat, which aren’t really that surprising. We all know that it’s terribly difficult to monitor. And we’ve seen our kids deal with the difficult issues that arise with Snap Maps. But honestly, I’m also frustrated by the Face Lenses, which I think are promoting a pretty unhealthy body image. And it’s not something I hear parents talking about.
Full disclosure: I’m not much a Snapchat user myself, but now that I’ve got a few kids using the app, I’ve been jumping into it more often than I had in the past, and doing what so many of us like to do when we’re bored: play with the Face Lenses. But after looking at myself in these Lenses, I have to say that every single one (save the goofy ones that contort your face, or give you bunny ears) gives you virtual botox or lip fillers. A few made me significantly thinner than I actually am. Like, shockingly thin.
This is me: #NoFilter
For a split second, I was all “Oh hey there!” to what looked a little like my 20-year old self, but then I remembered that kids are using these Face Lenses – kids who not only do not need any Snapchat plastic surgery, but are also getting the message that when you smooth the wrinkles and shrink your face to highlight the cheekbones, you’re much cuter. At least, that’s the feedback they’re getting. (And let’s be honest here: we’re getting too).
Uh, suddenly I have no wrinkles and fuller lips!
I’m not just making this issue up. Early last year, The Guardian published a piece about women actually seeking plastic surgery (and other procedures) to make them look like they do in these lenses and social media filters.
I have no issues with filters and lenses on principle. I think they can be super fun, and I have, at times, used them to occupy my kids when they were younger. It’s amazing how much uncomfortable time on a plane can be passed with them staring at themselves and making faces. But the Face Lenses like these are really sending a pretty crappy message that I’m super uncomfortable with.
These photos were taken a day apart, so yeah, I didn’t have time to get $10,000 in plastic surgery.
While my teens won’t be ditching Snapchat anytime soon, you can bet that I’ve already had a few conversations with them about the filters, and the impact that they can have on how they (and their friends) see themselves. It’s actually part of the ongoing conversation I have with my kids (boys and girls) about body image. My hope is that more parents will do the same with their own kids.
It’s important to remember that digital parenting isn’t just limited to keeping our kids safe. It’s also about keeping them healthy, and empowering them to think critically about what they’re using – on them and society.
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