'Am I pretty or ugly?'

Disturbing trend has teens posting videos to be rated


It's a disturbing trend that is not showing signs of stopping.  Teens and tweens are posting videos online and asking the world to rate if they are pretty or ugly. The videos gain millions of hits and crushing comments that are too many to count.

"One of the major problems is once you are on the Internet and it is out there, you can't get it back," says Dr. Amy Middleman, an expert in adolescent medicine.

More than 4 million people have watched a little girl in a koala hat ask viewers if she is pretty or ugly. Some people who commented gave positive responses. Others encouraged her to be more self confident, but most of the responses are brutal and would be tough for even an adult to handle.

"If you are putting really personal vulnerable information out to your social network and some of these friends aren't such good friends maybe they are acquaintances of acquaintances, then you are putting yourself at risk," warns counseling psychologist, Dr. Amy Acosta.

"I think they don't understand how if affects other people until it actually happens and they can't really take it down," says student Michelle Barrmeyer.

Her friends agreed posting the videos are a bad idea.

"They are kind of setting themselves up for it and if they don't want to hear they are ugly, then they shouldn't ask the question if they are pretty or ugly," says Katie Lubman, an eighth-grade student.

Child experts say parents need to reinforce what should really be important to their children.

"If they are just putting a picture out there trying to solicit feedback about their appearance, then the feedback they are going to get is pretty superficial and it can be very focused on appearance and not focused on who they are. And therefore it won't really validate them or make them feel any better about themselves," said Dr. Acosta.

She reminds parents it is normal for middle and high school students to feel a little insecure about their appearance. The concern is the comments on these video posts may cause teenagers who are already dealing with body image concerns bigger problems.

"If a child puts something out there and gets negative feedback, I really challenge them to think about what that means in context of reality. The person that put that out there doesn't know you, doesn't know who you are, doesn't know what a kind good person you are -- doesn't know the first thing about you. So, I would really put that kind of feedback in a category that has extremely low priority," advises Middleman.

Doctors are encouraging parents to really listen to their children and give their children more feedback on real issues such as good behaviors, achievements, and kind gestures so they aren't necessarily looking so much for external approval.

"It is not about what you look like or how fabulous you look in a photograph. We really need to get back to what you are like as a person one on one interacting with other people and basically if you are valuing other people," says Middleman.