Teen body image
Adolescence, with the acne, awkwardness and hormone changes that embody this pivotol time in life, is already hard enough for most kids. But some have started looking for reassurance in a disturbing place: the internet.
Kids turn to Internet for reassurance
These girls (and a handful of boys) posted videos on YouTube, asking random viewers if they are pretty or ugly. The videos have garnered millions of views and many harsh comments for these insecure kids.
YouTube, a vehicle for insecurities
One can type in the simple phrase "am I ugly" and pull up an assortment of adolescents baring their souls to the internet world at large. Many look into the camera and ask viewers for their honest opinions: Are they ugly or pretty?
"I just wanted to make a random video seeing if I was, like, ugly or not because a lot of people call me ugly," one of the girls, who looks middle school age, said candidly into the camera. "I think I'm ugly and fat."
Her video, which was posted in 2010, has received more than three million views and multiple pages of comments. The video received 101 new comments during the time it took to view it. Comments run the gamut from positive -- "You are lovely. But you have to feel pretty inside. Other opinions don't matter." -- to those that are frank and hurtful -- "You are ugly," or "It looks like she doesn't have eyebrows."
Such is a typical "Am I ugly?" video being posted by youngsters and the responses from random Internet voyeurs.
New trend for teens?
The story was first brought to light by Jezebel, and has since become an Internet phenomenon.
"There are dozens of videos along these lines, and nearly all of them are made by teenagers displaying the same awkward shrugs and smiles meant to display an artificial casualness," Jezebel's report reads.
Kids as young at 11 are asking viewers to comment on their looks, even though YouTube's policy does not allow for people younger than 13 to post videos.
The role parents can take
"Low self-esteem begins for many kids right around the time puberty happens."
Low self-esteem begins for many kids right around the time puberty happens.
"Girls today face significant pressure to be physically attractive and have a perfect body," states Mayo Clinic. "As a result, many girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies and are at higher risk of developing mental health problems."
Parents can take a proactive role in the self-confidence of their youngsters, girls and boys. Parents are encouraged to have certain conversations with their teens involving the impact of genetics and hormones during puberty, media images and self-perception.
Watch one of the "Am I Ugly?" videos posted on YouTube
How can we bolster our kids' self esteems so they don't turn to YouTube for reassurance (or criticism)?
Read more on children and self-esteem