Enhancement apps gaining popularity with teens and causing long-term image impacts

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —   There’s an increase in young people using apps, like one called Photo Plastic, where they can alter their appearance.

“It’s really scary,” said Nicole Agudelo, a teen who steers clear of these apps. “There have been a couple times where I have met someone and they look completely different.”

Agudelo says she has around 20 apps and about 25% of those have ways to alter images.

“It definitely gives a different vibe off when I send it to my friends,” said the teen. “Like if I am feeling extra friendly I use a certain filter or if I am feeling a little bit like I don’t want to talk, I will use no filter.”

She says she is hearing about people her age using apps like Photo Plastic.

“I kind of stay away from those because what if I actually meet the person and they’re like ‘You don’t look like that!’ well… it’s kind of how it goes,” said Agudelo.

Not all teens are like Agudelo. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Sephra Vigna, says more people are downloading these apps where they can alter their image.

“These apps are instantly available for anyone who would like to see how they can make themselves look different, look better, prettier and more attractive to their friends,” said Dr. Vigna, a Buffalo based psychologist.

She says today’s technology is leading to an increase in a mental illness called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a mental illness which causes someone to obsess over something they find as a flaw in their appearance. Around one in every 200 people suffer from BDD. Dr. Vigna says the flaw can be as small as a scar on one’s chin but someone suffering from BDD will see it as a massive isssue, holding them back from everything in life and once they fix that flaw, everything will fall into place.

The psychologist says these apps are allowing people to alter their images in their online and social media presences but not in real life.

“Unfortunatlely these apps are reducing a young person’s self-confidence and creating poor self images for these adolenscents,” said Dr. Vigna.

Agudelo feels her generation’s views of themselves is lower than others and she attributes technology to part of that.

As for sharing images, altered or not, the teen says she feels it is up to a person for how they’d like to be perceived.

” I feel like it’s just a personal choice,” said Agudelo. “If you feel comfortable enough to show your own body or kind of hide — or not even hide but kind of just not be exactly who you are up front.”


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