How much is too much when it comes to young people taking selfies?

Posted at 2:29 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 23:32:01-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - How much is too much when it comes to young people taking selfies and using filters to change the way they look?

You can change anything when it comes to altering pictures on your phone. There are so many different kinds of body-altering apps.

But some experts question whether constantly altering photos to show a "better" version of yourself can have a negative impact.

Some call it “Snapchat Dysmorphia."

“Teenagers often see themselves as imperfect and they see themselves as imperfect compared to their peers. When I look at these apps, it is like going down a rabbit hole. At what point do you stop altering your image?" said licensed clinical social worker Gary Rotfus.

Rotfus has been treating patients for more than two decades.

He said the use of certain apps to alter your image could impact a person’s self-esteem, cause depression and even lead to eating disorders.

“It’s not encouraging them to deal with their own defects. It’s not encouraging them to learn how to accept themselves as they are,” said Rotfus.

One study found that more patients are bringing these altered pictures to the plastic surgeon's office in hopes of looking more like their altered selfie.

According to CBS, "this is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients," researchers from Boston University School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology wrote in a recent article that was published in the medical journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

“Everybody’s a human on the inside. I think everybody looks great just the way they are,” said Kierra Seanlo, a Tidewater Community College student. Seanlo said she sees many people using these apps to change the way they look.

Experts have given various opinions about the impact of selfies on self-esteem.

Lloyd Downs said he decided a few years ago that selfies were having a negative effect on him, so he stopped taking them.

“I noticed they took too much energy out of me and what I shouldn’t be focusing on, so I don’t do it,” said Downs.

Others, however, think they're good.

“If you're just using it for fun, it’s not a big deal,” said 19-year-old Faith Sams.

“I think that the children are not accepting who they are,” said Valerie Butler, who has several grown children.

“Social media is like fire. You use fire to keep you warm, to cook your food, but that same fire can burn your house down - burn you down,” said Nathan Butler.

“There is no definition of perfect. Perfect is your own definition. Everyone is fine the way they are,” said Sams.