I first opened my now-defunct Facebook account in 2007. A lot of people needed a place to nurse their MySpace hangovers back then and Facebook seemed like the right place to do it. It seemed like it had it all, offering privacy in a cool, hip environment with a clean newsfeed and limited ads. Before I knew it, Facebook was sucking my time worse than a mosquito on a humid summer day, but I was shamefully addicted to the euphoria that came from those little red flags. I just couldn’t quit.
If I’m being honest, there was always this aspect about Facebook that felt like I had never left high school. There’s the popular girl showing off her post-baby bikini body, and oh, there are those mean girls who are still probably snarking behind your back about that Coach bag that was three seasons ago. And that bully from 7th grade? His wife just wrote a status update about how hurt she was when a mean boy picked on her daughter at the playground. Oh, the irony.
And, just like in high school, Facebook always makes you feel that pressure to keep up with the status quo (pun intended), no matter how long it takes you to pick out the perfect pics to showcase last summer’s European vacation (read: hours).
Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen to adults, but kids and teenagers too. I have a 7-year-old who will most likely ask me if she can have her own Facebook account in a few years, and guess what? I’ll say no. I don’t want her sharing her life, comparing herself to her peers, or feeling inadequate or not “pretty enough” in selfies. I don’t want her putting herself more at risk to be torn down by those bullies and mean girls.
Of course, just when you think things can’t get any worse … they do. It’s become increasingly obvious that the Facebook trend of making your life look more glamorous and perfect than it really is has caught on with its youngest users, as well.
According to a new study, many online social media users “airbrush reality” to the point that they start believing their own lies and exaggerations. Ever heard of digital amnesia? It happens to people who alter their lives online so much that they forget what actually happened in real life, resulting in feelings of paranoia, sadness, shame for not being about to live up to their curated Facebook images.
I’m concerned about the possible inferiority complexes my children could get by constantly comparing themselves to their peers online. Mix that in with photo sharing apps and Photoshop, and we find ourselves with a huge problem.
I’m not teaching my daughter to love herself the way she is, just to watch her alter her appearance online.
While I’ve taken online breaks in the past, this time I’ve decided to quit Facebook for good. I’m not just doing it for myself, but for my kids too. I won’t be that hypocritical mom who tells my kids not to create profiles, yet maintains my own online presence. I’ve learned the hard way that we’re better off unplugged. And while my kids may not thank me right away, when they’ve survived adolescence with their self-esteems intact, they’ll know I was right.More On