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By Sean Van Staden


Be aware of social media and how it can lead to an unhealthy state of mind

Children are easily influenced and they can fall into the trap of believing everything they see which can lead to things like anorexia, depression and body dysmorphic disorder.

Your life or your children’s lives might be headed down a scary path thanks to social media and their various platforms.

If you ever started feeling conscious of your body, self-worth or feeling like everyone else in the world is perfect and you are not, then you might want to cut back on time spent online, or better yet, delete it.

Most platforms are designed to showcase the best version of yourself and you would never dream of posting your cellulite for the world to see or that pimple that looks like a lobster in broad daylight. Instead, you will wait for the perfect light, angle, and opportunity, in the hope it captures a moment in time that even surprises you.

The problem with going on to these platforms is that you end up feeling you are not good enough.

You don’t have the #instaBum or that #modelbod, ripped body or put simply, a body to die for. The longer you are exposed to these platforms of vanity, the more psychologically it begins to break you down without you even knowing it.

It plants a seed in your mind that everybody looks perfect and that if you are not gorgeous and perfect, then you have no place in society.

These platforms validate and stereotype what beauty is, or should be, and this is dangerous on so many levels, especially to young minds that are still shaping and forming the way their brain contracts life.

If we take comedians for example, we kind of all assume they are the happiest people on the planet because they are always laughing, but you are looking from the outside and have no clue as to what is happening inside.

Their lives, their hardships, their finances, their lack of opportunities; you simple don’t know them, but assume they are happy.

The late Robin Williams, one of the world’s funniest and most gifted comedians, suffered from depression for years, even with all his success, money and fame.

One of the big problems facing people who use a lot of social media platforms, is anorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder where a person loses large amounts of weight through excessive exercise, binge eating or purging behaviour. Various studies have shown that in aesthetics sports, where athletes need to have a certain body profile, there is a higher risk.

This may be a gymnast, a cheerleader, a ballerina or a figure skater.

In a study by Johnson C and Company, over one-third of division one NCAA female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms of anorexia nervosa. A figure of 41.5% of female athletes in aesthetics sport reported eating disorders, according to another study done by Jannkowski C.


Often children feel inadequate and believe they are overweight when they are not. Picture: iStock

If depression or anorexia are not something to be worried about, another disorder on the rise is body dysmorphic disorder.

This occurs when you are consistently unhappy with a part of your body and no matter how much affirmation and adoration you get from some friends, fans or family, you are not happy with yourself. Think about one of your mates in gym who is never happy.

He is built like a brickhouse, yet he feels small. He can’t fit through a door frame, yet he feels his muscles are small and puny.

This has its own set of problems where obsessive gym-goers with BDD tend to gravitate towards illegal and banned substances to get the performance gain needed for self-validation.

The problem here is, they have a disorder and no matter what their size is, they will still find fault and dislike something about their body.

I can’t sit here and say that social media is to blame, but I do believe it is contributing to an unhealthy state of mind.

If your child doesn’t use drugs but is surrounded by people who do and all they do most of the day is talk about drugs, more than likely he or she will start thinking drugs are fine.

If your child spends time on social media thinking ripped bodies and model bodies are the norm, there’s a great chance that your child might develop a BDD disorder.

Make sure you keep a close eye on what you and your children are seeing each day and always limit the amount of time watching so-called “perfect bodies” and spend more time researching real people, with real personalities.

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