Young girls showcasing bodies on Instagram

The dark side of social media: Young girls showcasing bodies on Instagram

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PHOENIX -

It's a hot new trend on the popular site "Instagram." A darker side of social media that showcases young women's bodies. Teens, girls as young as ten, competing for attention and approval.

It's a wakeup call to parents who may not realize there's more to Instagram than innocent postings.

The comments. The racy photos. Teenaged girls so young we can't show their faces are entering beauty contests on Instagram.

"They're really young and they shouldn't be showing off on the internet," said one girl.

"I've seen girls post half naked pictures to get more likes," another girl told us.

There's no way to trace when or who started these so-called pageants. But a keyword search of #beautycontest turned up more than 10,000 posts.

But unlike a real pageant there's no crown.

The girl with the most likes wins. The loser's photo is branded with a red x.

17-year-old Gabby Deangelo, a fan of Instagram, describes what's taking place as a popularity contest -- and the photos she has seen as provocative.

"Bedtime with like full on makeup blown out like hair and big ol' boobs," says Deangelo.

Deangelo, who has not participated in a beauty contest herself, says girls seem to be baring it all just to find out what people think of them.

"They're showing what the guys want and the guys are the majority of their likes."

What experts say the contestants don't think about are the consequences. This snapshot in time is forever saved in cyberspace. There are also long-term emotional risks.

"This can cause depression, this can cause anxiety for the young girls, they can really suffer and they may not know who to talk to about it because they are the one who put the picture on there in the first place," says teen psychologist Dr. Morgan Francis.

Dr. Morgan Francis explains that even positive affirmation, or likes, could cause girls to develop negative behavior as an adult.

"You're going to keep wanting to maybe dress more seductively or sexually because that's what got you attention in the first place."

"A lot of the parents don't know about it because they don't even know that their kids on the site exposing their bodies and stuff. There's a few you see they pose normal and stuff, most of them it's their body," said one girl.

There could be security risks as well. 100 million people a month use Instagram, according to the popular site. Unless you activate a privacy setting, anyone, even perfect strangers can view the pictures posted by the young women.

Teens who think they're just having fun.

A statement was issued on behalf of Instagram: "We are aware this is a trend taking place on virtually every media platform that teens engage with. We work hard to make Instagram a safe, interesting and vibrant place for teens to spend time and express their creativity through photos. As with other social products, we encourage parents to take an active role in understanding what their kids are posting and who they are sharing with."


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