Some teens fear taking their masks off

He and his friends planned to keep their masks on, at least initially. “If it looks really OK, then I think we could take them out. But ...

He and his friends planned to keep their masks on, at least initially. “If it looks really OK, then I think we could take them out. But from now on, I feel more comfortable when I have it.

The removal of masks also represents a social transition during a developmental period when young people become hypersensitive to what others think of them and particularly concerned about their appearance, Dr Choukas-Bradley said. Beginning in tween and early adolescence, she says, children often develop what psychologists call an “imaginary audience” that makes them feel like there’s a spotlight on them and their flaws. And as they begin to spend less time with their parents and more time with their peers, social status and cultural norms of beauty become extremely important, especially for girls, she said.

The imaginary audience shapes the way teens think about even ordinary tasks like getting dressed, speaking in class or buying shoes, said Seth Pollak, a psychologist and director of the Child Emotion Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While an adult might think about cost or comfort, a teenager might think about what some people at school will think when they walk into the main classroom with new shoes. These people are not necessarily friends. They can even be enemies.

“Some teenagers’ lives are very dominated by these audiences in their heads that they think are really looking at them and scrutinizing them,” he said.

Social networks have only exacerbated fixation that teenagers can have on their appearance and fears of being judged, many studies show. Even before the pandemic, teenagers worried looking attractive on social media, said Dr Choukas-Bradley, whose research has connected this kind of worries with a high risk of depression.

The implications of mask choices are also magnified on social platforms. “fishing mask“, the idea that someone could hide facial flaws under a mask, first appeared on dating apps but became a trend on TikTok late last year. Several recent videos have amassed tens of millions of views, with young people pointing out kids at their schools who may or may not be mask fishing, and even asking others to rate their own faces.

“The imaginary audience is no longer imaginary,” Dr Choukas-Bradley said. “At any time, I can be photographed or filmed, and my peers can see what I do and what I look like.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Some teens fear taking their masks off
Some teens fear taking their masks off
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