Aided by social media, we're breeding a generation of self-absorbed narcissists and compulsive braggarts. As most parents know, approval-hungry teens and tweens often base their popularity--and, in turn, their self-worth--by the number of likes or positive comments their posts and photos receive on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. But what's the root cause of kids' online behavior, of their almost pathological need for online popularity? And why do the images posted on social media seem to be increasingly risqué in nature?
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Well, many parents blame it on the actions of under-aged Hollywood stars like Kylie Jenner, Willow Smith, and Noah Cyrus, all of whom have been repeat offenders when it comes to posting over-sexed photos on Instagram.
Last Sunday, 16-year-old Kylie Jenner posted a selfie on Instagram in which she was wearing a skimpy bikini, and the photo received 739,000 likes in a 24-hour time span. Miley Cyrus' 14-year-old sister Noah Cyrus posed for an Instagram photo alongside her provocateur sister wearing a skin-tight leopard-print leotard, popping her booty out and working her hand into a claw-like shape. And, in May, 13-year-old Willow Smith posted a photo of her laying in bed with 20-year-old actor Moises Arias. But don't expect any of these starlets to stop posting controversial, oversexed photos. It is, after all, how young Hollywood seems to express itself.
Parents are concerned that their kids might try to emulate these Hollywood starlets--and, in my opinion, they're right to be worried. Social media, in many ways, has turned the entire cyber universe into one big high school, one in which young Hollywood stars are perceived as the members of the cool crowd. To be perceived as cool, then, kids emulate their behavior via their own posts.
But let's not kid ourselves: These young Hollywood starlets didn't pioneer these online antics. Rihanna and Nicki Minaj turned Instagram into a T&A destination until the photo-sharing site established new no-nudity rules. It temporarily shut down RiRi's account after she posted a photo of herself on the cover of the French magazine Liu, her nipples fully exposed. Scout Williams came to Rihanna's defense by frolicking through the streets of NYC topless and tweeting photos of her bare breasts, which RiRi then retweeted with a "Free The Nipple" message. Now, these women may claim this is a feminist movement, but who are they kidding? Rihanna exposes her body because she gets off on being at the center of controversy and because, yes, she enjoys being an object of desire. She self-objectifies--and it's not anything to reward or applaud.
If as a society, we applaud the antics of these "adult" celebrities, how can we expect young Hollywood not to follow in tow? Teens and tweens emulate older women they admire so, when that consists of folks like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj, it's a recipe for a sex-addled mess. Maybe, as adults, we need to reassess who we choose to admire and why.
Image via Cara Delevigne/Instagram