National News

April 9, 2013

Instagram beauty contests worry parents, child privacy advocates

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

"In the realm of 12- to 13-year-old girls, nothing much is voluntary, and the peer pressure is intense to conform and be part of it," Balkam said.

Maryland PTA president-elect Ray Leone said schools in the region are struggling to keep up with complaints and questions about online safety because children are moving so quickly between the latest social network sites. Counselors and educators have little time to monitor how children are using social media.

"It's hard to even get your head around any of these new sites. It's overwhelming for everyone I talk to," said Leone, whose own children, ages 15 and 18, are on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. "Most parents are just throwing their arms up in the air because the new platforms are coming and going so fast, it's hard to get your head around it."

Middle school girls are particularly sensitive to online interaction. Positive or negative comments contribute to self-esteem and the formation of identities, experts say.

Racking up followers and "likes" on Instagram is a measurable way of feeling acceptance, said Simmons, the "Odd Girl Out" author. On Instagram, teens often post notes imploring the public to become followers and to "like" their posts.

Hollee Actman Becker, a writer and blogger from Philadelphia, last Saturday discovered her 10-year-old daughter was in an Instagram beauty pageant. Horrified, Becker confronted her daughter and realized the girl didn't fully grasp the risks of the contest.

Becker said she didn't know the minimum age for Instagram users is 13. She will let her daughter maintain her account, she said, but has pushed back against contests on the site. She posted a photo of the words "Beauty is Skin Deep" on the palm of her hand.

The photo is beginning to go viral.

Text Only
National News
  • 10

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
     

    July 27, 2014

  • In other news

    June 29, 2014

  • 10 things to know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

    June 29, 2014

  • 10 things to know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

    June 22, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    May 28, 2014

  • TV show seeks teen rebels for reality show

    A television producer is seeking teenagers as young as 13 who like to make their own rules and “party like a rock star” to participate in a reality television series about their lives.

    May 28, 2014

  • Sterling responds to NBA, June 3 hearing still on

    Donald Sterling and the NBA are headed toward a hearing that will determine if he remains owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

    May 28, 2014

  • Lawmakers, mourners weigh in on California rampage

    Thousands mourned the deaths of their classmates at a California university, lawmakers proposed ways to prevent the next round of deaths, and the rampant presence of guns were at the forefront of both discussions as a rampage that left seven dead reverberated across the state.

    May 28, 2014

  • Nebraska woman wolfs down 2 4 1/2-pound steaks

    A Nebraska woman celebrated breaking a Texas steakhouse’s speed record for eating a 4 1/2-pound slab of beef by polishing off another one.

    May 28, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    May 28, 2014