Health

Is Facebook Sexualizing Teenage Girls?

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Adolescence was already complicated enough before social networking came onto the scene.

Now, experts are concerned that outside pressure to increase friend totals and virtual "likes" is inciting young girls to post provocative and even sexually explicit material on their pages.

The fact that both cameras and video recorders now come standard with most computing hardware has only exacerbated the problem, according to Yahoo! News.

In a recent New York Times article that addressed this topic, a 13-year-girl identified only as Jordan told the paper of note: "I feel like I have to look good all the time - at school, at parties, at the mall, whenever I am socializing out of the house. I want people to say, 'She looks great!' I'm not happy if I don't think I look good."

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Talk about pressure! No woman, especially one as young as 13, should feel so obligated to meet arbitrary societal standards of beauty. To hear some of these young teens talk about the paramount importance of their physical appearance both on and offline is as revelatory as it is frightening.

Eighth-grader Grace describes her obsessive preparation for Face Time sessions and video chats: "Before a video chat, I'll fix my hair and make sure I look good. If I just got out of the shower and my hair is wet, or I'm wearing my sweats, I'll cover the camera with a Post-it, or just won't accept the video chat."

Aside from the increased pressure to look one's best at all times, social networking has shifted the popularity paradigm. Status is no longer measured by locker notes and cafeteria position, but by Facebook wall scrall and those all-important "Likes." Peer pressure and social politicking is nothing new to teenage culture, but the prominence of the online space makes these interactions more difficult to monitor and - when they get out of hand - police.

Girls as young as eleven and twelve model for their web cams, striking provocative poses with lips pouted and hips cocked. Some of these pictures look more like they belong in the pages of Maxim than on a pre-teen's Facebook wall.

Dr. Robyn Silverman, the author of "Good Girls Don't Get Fat" says that girls who post overly sexualized pictures on social networks are trying to attract the attention of boys, "What garners attention is not the typical, it's the outrageous, it's the edgy."

She's quick to point the finger at teen role models like Miley Cyrus who famously took her good girl Hannah Montana Image from clean to vampy in the course of a few sexy tweets.

Do you think social media is contributing the over sexualization of young, teenage girls? Let us know in the comments below.