LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: How to discuss Filter vs Reality.

Many times, young boys and girls get caught up in trying to look a certain way, based on images they see online. Unfortunately, most of these images are air-brushed, produced with effects, or done through a beauty filter and experts say, that’s making it tough for many kids to build a positive body image.

When scrolling through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Tik Tok — it’s extremely common to see unrealistic looks. In fact, a 2021 Parents Together survey found that 87% of people 13 to 21 years old use a filter on social media, and nearly 1 in 5 use a beauty filter on every single one of their posts. The most common reasons for using the beauty filters in the survey were to “look more beautiful” and to “hide a characteristic they don’t like.” Experts say, it’s important parents have a talk with their kids about fake pictures, having a positive body image without filters, and that what’s popular always changes.

“Kate Moss in the early ’90s, that thin body was really popular,” says Family Studies expert Doctor Megan Maas with Michigan State University. “But then supermodels like Cindy Crawford, who was larger than the models in the ’90s were also popular, and now we have the Kim Kardashian type of body, and so it changes over time, which is the indicator that it is not true, it’s not innate, there’s no truth to it. It’s all about what’s selling the most stuff at the time.”

Experts say, your fake filter versus reality conversation should also include you:

*Identifying your kids’ social media intentions and habits

*Validating your child’s worth – to help them love themselves for who they are and how they look naturally.

*Screen time limits. Research shows a link between heavy social media use and increased risk of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

Experts say it’s OK for teens to spend time online, in fact, banning social media use will likely create rebellious behavior. It’s just important that your kids know the difference between fake and reality, and trying to emulate something they’re not, is more trouble than it’s worth.