Are we good body image role models for our children?

Earlier this year Media Smart released new body image educational resource that achieved the PSHE Association Quality Mark for best practice. We also created a short film starring Dr Ranj and Youth Psychologist – Emma Kenny, to go with the resources.

In the film Dr Ranj, interviews secondary school boys, asking them about any concerns with their physical appearance. It was shocking to hear how self-conscious these boys felt. So many resources and articles have been about girls and body image. But this film highlighted how boys have the same concerns as girls, they just don’t talk about it as much.

Dr Ranj becomes the photographer’s model in the film and demonstrates how many images are airbrushed, highlighting how much of what in the media isn’t 100% “real”.

It made me as a mother of two boys question what my children were seeing in their daily lives? How much pressure they are under to look “picture perfect”?

It also made me question whether I was a good role model for them? Was I promoting positive body image? After reading Media Smart’s parent guides, what stood out for me was how impressionable children are from an early age.

One simple piece of advice has made me rethink the way I talk to my children.

“Talk about what your body can do, not what it can look like”

This is now my internal mantra!

In the past, I had been guilty of referring to their appearance and bodies. I’m even guilty of referring to my son as “skinny” and “having no hips”.

(I should add this isn’t something I do now).

My son looked confused and concerned and I quickly realised what a huge parenting fail this was!

I asked other parents if they felt they were good role models and this is what they said…

“I’m massively guilty of talking negatively about myself, (not all the time you understand, just the odd comment!) and my sense of humour is naturally self-deprecating – but I try and catch myself saying things in ear shot of my son as I know it all goes in…Personally, I don’t think it’s harmful to tell your kids they are beautiful and as long as you make sure it’s clear you mean inside and out and explain that beauty takes so many interesting forms etc..”Mum of 7-year-old boy.

“I’m guilty of moaning about my weight in front of my daughter. It’s only started recently but as soon as it comes out I feel so terrible, especially since she’s started talking about her fat tummy” Mum of 8 and 6-year-old girl.

“My mother was a serial dieter and it really gave me a complex about my weight, conversations about losing weight seemed the norm in my house! I’m careful not to pass these on now!” Mum of 11-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy.

“My husband and I would always talk about our weight and dieting openly. And we started to notice our children asking about their weight which was a massive wake up call for us”Mum of 2 teenage children.

“A friend of mine’s Dad once called her thunder thighs, she became anorexic at 14 and blamed that one comment”. Mum of 9-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy.

We all have stories, we all remember what it was like being referred to as a child by our size or shape or appearance, and the negative effect it can have on us. There’s still so much more that we must learn about passing on our insecurities and comments to the next generation.

We need to empower children with critical thinking skills to help them navigate the digital world around them. And be better positive body image role models.

Download our free parent guides or teaching resources to find out more.

Written by Ruth Gilbey

5 social media tips for parents and teachers

It’s challenging for parents and teachers to keep up to date with the ever changing world of social media. Inspired by the Children’s Commissoner #Digital5ADay campaign we’ve come up with some easy to follow tips to help…

1. Stick to the legal age limit

Most social media platforms have a legal age limit of 13+. To keep up to date, the NSPCC has a great website called NetAware. You type in the name of the social media platform you are interested in and it will tell you the legal age and details about their service.

So what is the problem with your child being on social media before they are 13 (the legal age limit for most social media)? There are various safety reasons, and it’s also worth thinking about what they will see if they lie?

Consider this…. if an 8 year old child signs up to a social media account, when they’re 13 they will be seeing content and advertising that is for an 18-year-old. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

An alternative safer social media platform such as https://bubble.school/ is a good option for younger children.

2. Keep up to date and stay involved

Social media isn’t going away any time soon! We appreciate that there are still some people who aren’t on social media, but what if your child wants to be?

If you don’t know how social media works, how can you support your children? One parent said she was unaware of the direct messaging functionality on Instagram. So she was missing how her child was communicating with her friends.

Snapchat’s Snapmaps caused concerns for parents, so knowing how to set it to “Ghost Mode” is essential. Many social media platforms have Geolocation functionality. You may want to consider turning this off as well.

Follow this link to set Snapchat to Ghost Mode.

We think knowledge is power, our resources empower parents, teachers and children. They help them to understand the digital world around them. Follow our Facebook page where we share the most up to date content on the changes to social media. We can also answer any questions you might have via our page or by email.

3. Communicate with your children

Agree up front that you will have an open and honest dialogue about their activity on social media. If they talk to you, then it will be easier to support them.

Also, who do you want them to connect with online? Only friends and family? Check and agree with who they are connecting with.

Chat to them about what they are seeing, explain what an advert is or a sponsored post. Show how they are being advertised to on the different platforms. Use our parent guide to help explain to them how Vloggers and influencers are paid to endorse products.

Talk to them about how many images are edited and air brushed to look a certain way. Our new film, the Boys’ Biggest Conversation, explains it all…

Here’s the link to the film and our Body Image & Advertising resources.

4. Be safe

All of our lessons and guides list where we think the best sources of e-safety information are for schools and parents. Also, like our Facebook page for the latest news on the subject.

In addition to NetAware, the NSPCC has a campaign called Share Aware, which offers advice on how to keep young people safe online.

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/share-aware

5. Don’t focus on the negative!

It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of social media – but there are many positives too. New research is proving that good things can happen when kids connect, share and learn online.

Think about how many amazing things are achieved through us being socially connected.

For more information download our FREE parent guide on social media and digital advertising.

Written by Ruth Gilbey

10 Instagram accounts that will inspire and educate you…

We’ve seen a rise in “positive news sharing” on Instagram. So we’ve collated some of our favourite inspiring and educational accounts. We’ll be sharing our favourite Instagrammers on our Instagram feed @mediasmartuk.

The minimum age to have an Instagram account is 13 years old. We’ve included links to internet safety and social media guidelines in our digital advertising and social media guide for parents, which are free to download.

 
 
 
 
 
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4 in 5 young people have been inspired by an online image or video to take positive action. Source @uk_sic

A post shared by Media Smart (@mediasmartuk) on

So here are a few of our favourites…

1. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls @amypoehlersmartgirls

 
 
 
 
 
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Repost from @fly_sci . Link in bio for more. 👆👆👆 Launched today—Black Girl 44 Scholarship! blackgirl44.com ✨💃🏽✨. . . The Black Girl 44 Scholarship was created by former Obama White House alum Deesha Dyer @deedyer267 and includes contributions from more than 55 Black / African-American women who worked in the Obama White House. This private and independent initiative will award three $1,500 scholarships to Black/African-American women college students who have earned a Washington, D.C. internship that relates to policy, community engagement, community service, advocacy, global relations or politics for Fall 2019. . Scholarship recipients will be chosen from an application process that runs from June 19 to July 31, 2019. Winners will be notified in August and they will receive their scholarship award at a September luncheon in Washington, D.C. The eligibility requirements and application can be found at blackgirl44.com. Questions? Email info@blackgirl44.com. . . #BlackGirlMagic #Scholarship #Internship #WashingtonDC

A post shared by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls (@amypoehlersmartgirls) on

Founded by artist Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organisation is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. “We emphasise intelligence and imagination over “fitting in.” We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We are a place where people can truly be their weird and wonderful selves. We are funny first, and informative second, hosting the party you want to attend”.

Interested in positive role models for your teenager then check out this Instagram account.

2. First News @First_news

 
 
 
 
 
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Your brand new issue of First Moos is out today, and the happy cows are celebrating as kids vote for meat-free Mondays! 🐄 This and loads more, in shops today!

A post shared by First News (@first_news) on

The only weekly newspaper for young people with over 2 million readers.

First News is the award-winning, family owned, weekly newspaper for young people (aged 7-14). Produced in a traditional, full-colour tabloid newspaper format, it presents relevant stories and current affairs in an informative, entertaining and stimulating way, encouraging children to take an active interest in the world around them.

3. Positive News UK @positivenewsuk

Good journalism about good things www.positive.news/join – “The world’s First Positive Newspaper”.

Want a different perspective? Or to find out what else is going on in the world? Then check out @positivenewsuk on Instagram.

4. hello giggles @hellogiggles

 
 
 
 
 
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For decades, “nude” has denoted a pale beige tone, making white skin the default and the only option on the rack. It’s a lack of #representation felt at every tier of the fashion industry—from department stores to social media marketing campaigns, from shoes to underwear. Thanks to new WOC-led brands, that’s beginning to change, but most consumers have no idea how much harder founders have to work within a multi-billion dollar industry not designed for their participation.⁣ ⁣ At the link in the bio, HG contributor @beatrizk broke down what @nunude_official and other #WOC founders are facing to redefine “nude” and push diversity forward. 📷: @eazyvisuals⁣

A post shared by Hellogiggles (@hellogiggles) on

An online community for women covering the latest in culture, relationships, careers, & issues that matter most to young women’s lives. www.hellogiggles.com

Founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer, Sophia Rossi in 2011 as a place on the internet to inspire and smile.

5. Upworthy @upworthy

 
 
 
 
 
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#WednesdayWisdom. Go follow @Goodhq for more inspiring quotes

A post shared by Upworthy (@upworthy) on

“Upworthy is on a mission to tell stories that bring people together — because we’re all part of the same story…”

“Lots of media companies have a mission. But Upworthy is on a mission to change what the world pays attention to.

We believe that stories about important issues can and should be great stories — stories for everyone, stories that connect us and sometimes even change the world.”

6. Bright Vibes @brightvibesmedia

 
 
 
 
 
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Worrying kills more dreams than failure ever will. Remember that worrying is just as effective as trying to solve algebra by chewing gum.

A post shared by BrightVibes (@brightvibesmedia) on

“We believe in the power of Contagiously Inspiring Stories. As an opposing force to the torrent of negative news that leaves people numb, we put positive change makers in the spotlight. With our stories we want to inspire you to also have positive impact”.

7. Nat Geo @natgeo

“National Geographic covers every corner of the globe, explores the farthest reaches of the universe and probes the unexplored depths of the oceans. It brings you a truly insightful and thought-provoking look at the world around us”.

8. Nasa @nasa

The official Instagram account of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.”

9. Edutopia @edutopia

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Edutopia (@edutopia) on

The George Lucas Educational Foundation. A group of positive and proactive changemakers who are passionate about improving education.

10. This Girl Can UK by Sport England @thisgirlcanuk

 
 
 
 
 
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Jumping into a new week full of energy. #MondayMotivation #FitGotReal #ThisGirlCan #trampolining #jump

A post shared by This Girl Can (@thisgirlcanuk) on

Celebrate the active women who are doing their thing no matter how they look or even how sweaty they get. Powered by National Lottery players. app.thisgirlcan.co.uk

It doesn’t matter what age you are, there’s some amazing people out there that we can learn from. If we’ve missed any, please get in touch on social media. Tag us on Instagram @medismartuk and use the hashtag #GetMediaSmart.

Written by Ruth Gilbey

Why do teens love Instagram?

Including tips and advice for parents and teachers.

We wrote this blog to offer an insight to parents and teachers on Instagram: how it works, why it’s a favorite and what pitfalls to look out for. The more parents and teachers understand, the more they can support young people. Social media usage is often hidden from parents and that’s when problems can occur. Creating an open dialogue means you can support your children.

Instagram is one of the most widespread social networks with teens, with some teens claiming they spend hours editing photos before they post them. We did some research into why Instagram is so popular and who young people are following.

Social media can be a positive force for change. Media Smart has some key advice to help young people understand social – our aim is to gather facts, understand and educate. Tech is here to stay so teaching digital resilience and media literacy is essential. We also want to focus on the positive aspects of social media; its power to do good, raise awareness, enlighten and inspire.

It’s challenging for parents to keep up with all the new features and how their children are using Instagram. This is why we’ve highlighted the most up to date features and insights for you to be aware of:-

  • Instagram has 500 million active users and is growing every day. Instagram users “like” 4.2 billion posts per day In the last hour 1 in 5 children have used Instagram – so there’s no denying its popularity.
  • More than 40 billion photos shared, and 95 million per day!
  • The most followed Instagram account: Selena Gomez, with over 117 million followers.
  • Real Madrid footballer Cristino Ronaldo has over 95 million followers and is one of the most popular male Instagrammers after Justin Bieber temporarily deleted his account due to negative comments
  • Want to know more about who your teenager might be following on Instagram? Read The 18 Teens Dominating Instagram and 55 British Celebrities You Should Be Following on Instagram. Are you happy with the accounts your children are interacting with?
  • Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, who then introduced sponsored posts and adverting to Instagram. Does your child know that adverts will be on their Instagram feed? Can they identify a sponsored post?
  • Did you know Instagram has a separate group chat function? Many parents are unaware of this when they’re monitoring their children’s online activity.
  • Having more than one account is popular with younger users, some have a “real” and a “fake” account.
  • Also celebrities and Instagram influencers* can get paid to promote products to their followers. The more followers you have the more money you can command for endorsing products. Major social media influencers like the Kardashians have been reported to charge around £1500 per post for featuring products on their feeds. Make sure your children are aware that many Instagrammers will endorse products, and will be paid to talk about and advertise them on their Instagram feed.
  • In 2016 Instagram introduced ‘Instagram stories’ a Snapchat style feature (and Facebook is also rolling this out this now) where you can post temporary images and videos to your profile. It allows users to take photos, add effects and layers on top of their photos. Stories uploaded to a user’s profile expire after 24 hours.

We also researched why young people love Instagram. Here’s what they said

“I see it as a creative outpost for ideas, somewhere where kids can share their ideas and photos ”

“I love Instagram as there are lots of artsy photos and I love photography”

“Sometimes if I’m not sure of a photo I might snap it to someone or send it to them, before I post it on Instagram”

“I think it’s a numbers game and quite competitive, how many followers and likes can each person get”

“I can share photos and talk to my friends without my family seeing or joining the conversation”

The NSPCC also conducted a survey on all the popular social media networks. There were three main reasons why teens love Instagram.

You can share with others, you can communicate with others, and you can follow others.

Instagram is often quoted as being a very positive place by many, but also criticised for being unrealistic. However, you can decide what you see (based on who you are following and engaging with). Instagram explains its use of personalised algorithms: “Posts are selected automatically – based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like.”

So if you don’t like what you are seeing on your feed, think about why you’re on there and what you’d like to see more of.

Naomi Russo wrote an article for Quartz about this “I used to think social media made me feel bad about myself. But a recent dive into my viewing habits made me realise that the problem wasn’t just Instagram — it was also the way I was using it”.

“I began by unfollowing people who might have been contributing to my body-image problem. Why was I following so many Victoria’s Secret models, and women whose only job seemed to be working out?”

With some help from young people, parents and teachers we found some amazing Instagrammers out there. They’re not just posting selfies or advertising products!In our next blog, we’ve collated some of our favourite inspiring and educational Instagram accounts. We could all do with some positive, but real news, in our lives.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, there are some incredible people out there that we can learn from. If you have any suggestions of accounts like these, get in contact via social media and tag us on Instagram @mediasmartuk and use the hashtag #GetMediaSmart. We would love to share them in our next blog…

The minimum age to have an Instagram account is 13 years old. We’ve included links to guidelines on internet safety and social media  in our Digital Advertising and Social Media Guide for parents, which are free to download.

*Influencers — Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. Source Wikipedia.

Written by Ruth Gilbey