How Social Media Is Affecting Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem

Why does my daughter have low self-esteem? How social media is affecting teen girls’ self-worth.

Idealized Beauty Advice Online Is Diminishing Girls Self-Esteem: Study provides insights for parents to help their young tweens and teens.


Teens in the US are spending increasing amounts of time on social media. New Dove Self-Esteem Project research proves this to be true. 2 in 3 girls in the US are spending more than an hour each day on social media, which is more than they are spending in person with friends. Beauty advice fills their feeds, but unfortunately, it is not all positive. In fact, 1 in 2 girls say idealized beauty content on social media causes low self-esteem.


PexelsGirlsSelfWorthThe Dove Self-Esteem Project research concluded that the majority of girls realize that less time on social media and taking control of what they scroll, is part of the solution. In fact, 7 in 10 girls felt better after unfollowing idealized beauty content on social media.


The Dove Self-Esteem Project is launching the #DetoxYourFeed campaign to empower teens to define their own beauty standards and choose their own influences by inviting them to unfollow anything that doesn’t make them feel good about themselves.


Through a series of films, educational content, and partnerships with inspiring voices, the campaign encourages necessary conversations between parents, caregivers and teens about the dangers of toxic beauty advice.


In a longform campaign film, Toxic Influence, moms and their teens engage in a dialogue around harmful beauty advice on social media. The film highlights dangerous topics like “fitspo,” “thinspo” and the promotion of elective cosmetic procedures to young girls. Moms who participated were surprised to learn that this type of harmful beauty advice has become normalized for their daughters. They were inspired to have the important conversations around what their daughters are seeing in their feeds.


“We’ve identified a clear problem that is eroding the self-esteem of our girls and needs immediate attention and action. We created this #DetoxYourFeed campaign to not only raise awareness around the insidious nature of toxic beauty advice, but to also help parents navigate tough conversations and empower teens to unfollow content that makes them feel bad about themselves,” says Leandro Barreto, Global Vice President of Dove. “While it may be a bit overwhelming at times, we hope it will contribute to important conversations that lead to a more positive experience for teens on social media.”


Parents Can Help:


80% of girls would like their parents to talk to them about how to manage idealized beauty posts, so the Dove Self-Esteem Project has developed academically-validated resources and tools to help parents navigate important conversations with their kids and empower teens to #DetoxYourFeed or limit the content that can make them feel less worthy:


  • Detox Your Feed: The Parents Guide” – a three-minute educational film for parents, caregivers and mentors on facilitating conversations with young people about the harms of social media.
  • The Confidence Kit” – free Dove Self-Esteem Project workbook and tool featuring a new section, “Detox Your Feed: Talking to Your Kids About Toxic Social Media Advice.”


Ways to Help Your Daughter Develop Digital Resilience


Resilience is key when managing their online life, and talking to your daughter offline about their online activity can help them emotionally as well has have a healthier relationship with technology.


1. Online is not reality. Stressing to your teen that not everything is real online can help take the pressure off of them. You need to remind them constantly of this. Filters are used frequently to give people that false sense of realty. This creates the expectation that people are primped and perfect all the time. An analogy to share with your daughter, is to explain a social feed like a trailer to a movie — they are only giving you the highlights (usually the best or funniest parts), then you go to see the film, and sometimes you are simply disappointed. Social media can be viewed the same way. People are only giving you their highlights. Being forewarned if being forearmed. 


2. Social Media Envy. The compare and despair attitude is something that not only teens will take part in – adults do to. Majority of adults embellish online lives – they want to appear more than their offline lives – but they have the resilience and maturity to know better. WIRED Mag said that teens watch parents exaggerate their lives and boast about their kids – but will leave out the parts that are less flattering. This is where parents need to become more self-aware of their own online behavior.


3. Digital Detox: There’s no denying by taking time offline your teen will become less reliant on their social feeds. Parents can help. Research actually says that teens want boundaries. Give your teen screen time limits so they aren’t scrolling for hours and hours. Socializing in person helps your teen build compassion and empathy toward people. It’s eye to eye contact.


Share this PSA with your teen today and have a educated discussion about social media content.


If you’ve exhausted your local resources for your at-risk teenager, contact us to learn more about residential treatment with behavioral therapy that could benefit your family.


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