WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Holiday partiesare infull swing.As adults, weworry about keeping in shape, but it's also important for us to keep an eye on young girls who already pay close attention to their bodies. Health experts are concerned that social media sparks dangerous trends.
Social media is one of the major successes so far this century. Imagine the impact it has on today's kids.
"This is so different than the way we grew up," says clinical social worker Karen Schachter. Schachtergives advice for momsand offers programs for top notch mother-daughter healthat dishingwithyourdaughter.com.
Kids are plugged in 27/4.
"At the snap of a picture, the press of a button, they can be liked or criticized," says Schachter.
The constant access is fueling a dangerous weight loss goal of attaining a thigh gap. Schachter explains, "It refers to the idea when you stand with your feet together and your knees together, some, very few girls and women have a little gap between their thighs. It is an unattainable body structure for most girls and women."
This fad is considered a beauty achievement on countless social media sites. So if a teenager is unnaturally trying to reach this goal, they may be trying extreme eating habits.
So here are a few ways to tell if your teen or tween is having issues with their body image:
First of all, pay attention if they lost or gained a lot of weight.
Next, see if they totally abandoneda food group.
"A,, it's not healthy for kids and B, it's a sign that something is up in their mind," says Schachter.
Are they constantly looking in the mirror and criticizing themselves?
"It's normal to want to be taller or maybe want to have a flatter belly but to be constantly criticizing her body is a warning sign," says Schachter.
Know what'shappening in the media and talk about it.
"Let her know that the media are there to sell her things. The worst she feels about her body, the more they can sell," explains Schachter.
Practice what you preach. "If she seesstuff onthe scale every day and letting that determine whether you're in a good or bad mood."
A government study shows that more than half a million teenagers in the United States have an eating disorder. Really it's about keeping the conversation open. Check on their mood changes and, of course body changes, as well.