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'Children Will Be Discipled by Someone or Something': What Are Social Influencers Teaching Tweens?

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Nationwide, swarms of pre-teen girls are flooding into high-end beauty stores, spending hundreds on sophisticated makeup and skincare products. 

These nine-though-twelve-year-olds are called "tweens" because they are in between childhood and the teenage years. And tween social media influencers are leading the way, often demonstrating their complex regimes, using expensive and often unnecessary items like clay masks, eyebrow shapers, and more, that appear to be made for grown-ups.    

On TikTok, #TweenSkincare garners an estimated 49.5 million views on the social media site.  

Medical Concerns

Dermatologist Brooke Jeffy pushes back, regularly posting to TikTok discouraging the trend.  

"I just died a little," she said on TikTok, "Why does this adorable 11-year-old need makeup and the skincare routine more complicated than mine?" 

Dr. Jeffy says skincare products in particular are often not suited for tweens and warns against using products containing harsh exfoliants and anti-aging ingredients. 

"Many of these skincare products deal with adult skin issues, so age-related changes like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dullness to the skin, which kids don't have," she told ABC News.

Dr. Jeffy said using the wrong products can potentially harm a child's skin barrier.

"When that barrier is not working effectively we get things like redness. We get rashes. We can get infections and break-outs," she said. 
Dermatologists say pre-teens should wash their face with a gentle cleanser and use sunscreen, possibly also a light moisturizer, but that's about it. These products can be very reasonably priced at the drug store or discount store.

Spiritual Concerns

Christian parenting expert Kelly Newcom, founder of Brave Parenting, told CBN News she's concerned about the new trend from a spiritual perspective. 

"Your children are going to be discipled either by someone or something," she said. "A lot of times, social media has taken on the role of almost an authority. Well, then the parent often loses a little bit of authority and then God of course loses a big part of authority."

She says it's a good thing when tweens learn the value of personal hygiene and looking their best, but that parents need to help their girls learn moderation.

"Understanding that their worth is not found in these beauty treatments, that their worth really is found in Jesus Christ," she said. "Making sure that they are taking care of their physical bodies, which we know are temples of the Holy Spirit, and God does command us to take care of them."

She says the first step towards achieving that balance involves limiting the amount of time their child spends on social media.  

Psychological Concerns

Child psychologist Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein told CBN News she is also concerned about the tween girl trend.

"It's too critical of a time to just kind of ignore it and say, 'We'll just let this pass.  It's a trend. It'll go away,' because I think it means more," she said. 

Dr. Rubenstein says the pre-teens years are pivotal because that's when kids are easily influenced to adopt values they often hold on to for the rest of their lives. 

"This tween period is where they're developing who they are, and what we're seeing is that the influence is becoming much, much bigger from online social media and these para-social relationships with influencers," she said.

Of course, pre-teen girls have always dabbled with the concept of beauty and what it means to be a woman. However, experts say today's trend is more extreme and potentially harmful, largely because of the influence of social media.

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