Did you know that your child can simulate plastic surgery procedures like liposuction and nose jobs right from their smartphone? As just one example, the Beauty Clinic Plastic Surgery app features an array of animated characters that can be modified to create the perfect image.
Critics say that these types of apps send the wrong message to kids and as a clinician, I completely agree. The kids I see in my practice don’t need one more thing that creates or perpetuates the illusion of physical perfection.
The Beauty Clinic app is just one of many “plastic surgery” apps under intense scrutiny for its messaging and marketing to children as young as nine years old. Using cartoon characters and bright colors is a proven way for apps to grab the attention of young children, and this is exactly what these apps are doing.
These apps send a very clear message to children; you need to change how you look and plastic surgery is the tool to do that. Most of these apps are free so many parents don’t even know if their child is using one of them. This obviously leaves parents in the dark, preventing them from having an important parenting moment around physical appearance and body image issues.
I found out about these apps because an upset mom of a 10-year-old I see in my practice showed me exactly how they work. Making incisions with surgery tools, removing skin and bone, and then stitching the skin back together does not seem developmentally appropriate for a 10-year-old girl. Would you let your 10-year-old child watch a movie or a television show of a surgical procedure taking place? Probably not.
What Parents Should Consider
- Appearance should not be a child’s top priority.
- Plastic surgery is an adult topic with complexities children can’t understand.
- Cosmetic surgery is not the answer to happiness.
- Plastic surgery is not a routine beauty procedure and it is not a game.
- Talking with your child about self-esteem issues should come up organically when your child is developmentally ready to consider the topic and its complexities.
- Apps like these reinforce the standard Western beauty ideal, leaving out cultural and ethnic differences.
- It is important that parents are aware of the apps their child is downloading and using, otherwise parenting moments will be lost.
How are parents supposed to stay on top of the apps their child is using? Easy. The smartest parenting tool on the market, Social Judo, will send an alert, straight to a parents phone, letting them know which app was just downloaded. Real-time information which creates real-time parenting moments. Smart parents everywhere are using Social Judo because parenting your child in the space they occupy most is a necessity.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.