During a routine perusal of the Sunday ads, this made my 13-year-old daughter and I stop in our tracks.
Miss Mix-A-Lot: A+ Looks she can shuffle and play on repeat
We get the reference to music and clothes, yet there are no headphones. Just 6 young girls holding phones and taking a selfie.
Is it really necessary for a Back-To-School ad to showcase young elementary-aged girls all with smartphones in their hands?!?
JCPenney’s latest ads highlight a real problem in our culture. The boys are showcasing normal, active behaviors. The girls, however, are posing for a selfie with each girl holding their own smartphone.
Why do we accept a store placing intrinsic value only on how young girls look and not valuing their skills, activities, and achievements?
GIRLS, CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
Young girls are trapped. On one side is the pressure to have a smartphone to fit in and feel relevant. On the other side is the pressure having a smartphone brings: beauty standards, anxiety, stress, loneliness, competition, comparison, obsession, compulsion, and depression.
Often, the phone becomes a young girl’s portal to find self-worth. How many friends message me? How many followers can I accumulate? How many likes do my selfies and posts receive? Who will tag me in a post?
In the end, the phone stays in their hand at all times because their worth cannot be separated from it.
It’s a perpetual cycle: they look to their phone for their worth; the phone either confirms their popularity, beauty, and (on rare occasions) their intelligence OR it reminds them they aren’t popular enough, skinny enough, smart enough, funny enough, or pretty enough.
Perhaps this is why we are seeing a larger rise in mental health issues and suicides among girls!
At what point do we recognize how unhealthy it is for a 10 year-old girl to be physically, mentally, and emotionally attached to her smartphone and social media?
PARENTS, IT’S OKAY
This problem exists because we, as parents, have created and allowed it.
It is time for change.
It’s understandable if your 10 year-old daughter has a smartphone because she is alone after school or parents are divorced. Whatever your need for them to have a phone is, it doesn’t mean they need to carry it around in their hand, checking and rechecking every 60 seconds as if they are an on-call emergency room surgeon.
Mom & Dad – it’s okay to only hand the smartphone over when they absolutely need it. It’s okay to put limitations and restrictions on it including disabling the camera. It’s okay to take it up at night. It’s okay to not allow the phone to be carried in their hand. It’s okay to not allow social media.
It is time for change and parents must be brave and set a new standard for media use.