SOCIAL networking sites are leading to increased cases of body dysmorphic disorder among Irish teenagers, it is claimed.
Profile pictures and the huge number of diet sites are turning Irish children into neurotic airbrushed version of themselves, say leading agencies.
Teenagers have always been self- conscious but Bodywhys -- the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland -- feel that social networking sites have aggravated the problem.
"The simple fact that everyone must have a profile picture on the social networking sites is putting pressure on teenagers that didn't exist five years ago," said Bodywhys communications officer Ruth Ni Eidhin.
"Even with confident, healthy children, it encourages basic body issues which can later become more serious.
"What we find by talking to teenagers is that they are increasingly self-conscious during these vulnerable years.
"In America, it's become so serious that many children now feel that their profile picture has to be one that was taken by a professional photographer.
"The boys feel like they have to go to the gym every day to achieve the perfect online look.
"As for the girls, it encourages them to put on a lot of make up and to be underweight," she added.