Thousands of tweens have been posting YouTube videos to ask strangers, “Am I ugly?” And the answers they get are often not nice.
A University of Oregon psychologist is weighing in on the potential damage to young girls.
Psychologists believe a girl’s self-esteem peaks at the age of 9, and during adolescence the way she feels about her physical attractiveness goes a long way in determining her self-image.
YouTube videos threatening that self-image are getting millions of views.
Thirteen-year-old Faye posted her video last month. Some responding left positive comments, but many left very nasty responses, calling her ugly, or even an idiot. The negative comments left the deepest impression.
"It's easier to hear the bad things about yourself than the good things," she said.
"This focus on determining what your peers think of you is not new,” said UO Assistant Professor Jennifer Pfiefer, Ph.D. “The technology has provided a new avenue for doing this and they're taking advantage of it in ways that sometimes might be positive, but certainly have risks.”
Parents have expressed concern, and YouTube responded by saying the website is for people thirteen years or older only.
“Our community guidelines prohibit harassment, threats or hate speech," the site announced.
Some young girls have their own responses; They're posting positive videos with messages like, "Confident girls are beautiful."
Therapists warn the mean responses to the Am I Ugly? videos can have the same ramifications as bullying. And they add the girls are more vulnerable to predators, who might be searching online for their next victims.