What are the effects of cyber-bullying on teens?

cyber bullying and body shaming is on the rise in our country and this type of experience can have just- lifelong effects on its victims and we were talking about kids as young as 10 and and this lasting into their 40s and 50s so an eating disorder treatment center in Chicago revealed that 30 to 50 percent of its teenage patients use social media as a means of supporting their eating disorders and then a 2012 study revealed that the more time teenage girls spend on social media websites the greater their risk was of developing an eating disorder or negative body image joining me now to discuss ways to stop body shaming and cyberbullying is Laurie Osaka she’s the owner of the body image Counseling Center good morning thank you for being here you know part of these statistics that I’m seeing that you sent us specifically this link also between Facebook as well as eating disorders I mean how how do they use Facebook to that kind of promote this well it’s not so much that they promote it but a lot of the images are photoshopped or airbrushed and there are a lot of people that promote unhealthy fitness practices or weight loss techniques dieting a lot of scantily clad pictures especially among teenage girls and it’s very melodic and and that pressure can also lead to or the the pressure to look thinner or be thinner can also be something that’s ignited by bullying as well in person and also online well I think that you know I’ve I’ve said before that fat shaming is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice and we have to get rid of it and so people are terrified to be called fat so either you know they were they were called fat as a child or bullied for that or they’re terrified of that happening and so they diet relentlessly or use other eating disorder methods to keep from gaining weight as parents do you think that we somehow subconsciously like for example I overheard a conversation last night where someone described someone else that they had in exchange with as oh this fat person here is that just a bad thing because we’re somehow you know suggesting there’s something wrong with that person because that’s the way we’re describing them that’s complicated ideally fat would be just another descriptive word we’ve made fat a negative bad word so it depends on what context hopefully one day we’ll be able to feel okay about all body sizes and not think it’s negative and I think that we sometimes tend to think that we’re specifically talking to parents who have teenage girls but this is a big problem isn’t it among boys yes and more bullying body shaming bullying – boys – I’m talking with more and more men and boys that are bullied about their bodies and as adults still feel like that kid inside that was ashamed about their weight and is that mostly associated with you know hey I’ve got a six-pack and you don’t or I mean because we know that boys tend to hit puberty at different ages in which case a lot of times their bodies just don’t develop that quick absolutely that’s true so I think it’s both I think it’s this pressure to have this body that most men can’t achieve it’s just not natural unless you’re exercising all the time and plain old bullying just making fun of someone for being bigger so both of those things together are really hard on boys so what can we do as parents I mean we’ve had you on several times and talking specifically about how to have that conversation with teenagers but you know at some point do we kind of turn the finger around a little bit and and and you know really pressure social media sites also to maybe get a handle on this I I think so I don’t think it’s fair to blame parents for not policing social media it’s impossible for parents to totally police social media and this is the world that our kids and you know our kids are growing up in so I think we really do need to put more pressure on the administrators of these sites to not allow these kinds of images or this kind of bullying parents can’t do it alone and it’s unfair to blame them so demand better policing and also to report instances you think of body shaming I think one thing parents can do is identify fat shaming as bullying and to encourage their kids to be good people and report it and sometimes kids don’t realize it’s a form of bullying they’ll recognize other forms of bullying but not the fat shaming and so if we can educate our kids about that and reward them for being good people for standing up for the person being bullied that will go a long way I think that that’s so important particularly as we all know I mean I know that I’ve shared this with you before I mean I remember when I was made fun of on the school bus you know riding home in elementary school and that stuck with me forever and it does that’s what’s happening with these kids I’ve talked with so many people that have told me that one comment affected the rest of their lives one comment it was like their world was one way right you know before the comment and then it totally changed after which is why we need to teach our kids just be nice be kind please and I know it’s not easy sometimes if somebody you feel like wrongs you but just be kind you don’t have to get them back yeah I agree thank you for being here I appreciate it important conversations to have among parents but also with your children as they grow and of course if you missed any of these ways to stop cyberbullying or if you’d like to learn more about the body image Counseling Center we will post this interview along with a link to the Center’s website on our website news for Jack’s comm just look under the morning show tab later this morning