Plastic surgery apps appealing to kids come under fire

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some kids' apps are coming under fire, for appearing to glamorize plastic surgery.

A local expert says they send a dangerous message.

"Easy access, the cartoon, bright colors, it's so appealing to children," says Samantha DeCaro, Psy.D.

We showed several apps to Dr. DeCaro, who is a clinical psychologist for the Renfrew Center.

The center specializes in treating eating disorders.

The apps are marketed towards kids and the goal is to change a character's body and face.

The description for one plastic surgery simulator reads, "every girl dreams of a delicate face and stunning figure."

"When they are turning to these games, they are getting the message that appearance is the most important quality and it's just not true," says Dr. DeCaro.

And she says messages like this can be dangerous.

For vulnerable kids they can lead to eating disorders and depression.

For pre-teenagers, who are developing their identity, they can cause low self-esteem.

"When they are receiving constant message that their identity is really about how they look, they miss out on identifying other strengths like their intelligence, their sense of humor, creativity. Those should be the building blocks of identity, of self esteem," says Dr. DeCaro.

She says parents should be aware of what their kids are exposed to on apps and games.

But she also says parents are the most powerful role-models, so they need to be aware of how they talk about themselves and about others.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.