Teen artists use selfies to show effect social media has on mental health

A group of Toronto teens is hoping to start a conversation about how social media is affecting their mental health. The young men and women have created an art exhibit at the Power Plant at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre called "I Love My Selfie."

Artists say self esteem, confidence, dictated by likes on social media

Created by young men and women from 14 to 18, the 'I love my selfie' exhibit aims to highlight how social media affects their self-esteem and identity. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

A group of Toronto teens is hoping to start a conversation about how social media is affecting their mental health through a new exhibit at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre called "I love my selfie." 

All the pieces on display have been made during group art therapy sessions at Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, which helps young people who have been victims of abuse.

The artists spent time sitting together and talking about their experiences online, and how interacting with other teenagers in that space hurt their self-esteem. 

"I wouldn't be able to post anything online without thinking about 'Oh my gosh, what if someone says something negative?' said Genesis Perez, one of the artists participating in the show. 

"It was so exhausting to have to be thinking about this all the time and when I heard about the group it was like 'Wow! Other people go through that too, it's not just me.'" 

The art therapy group decided to create pieces that play with the idea of selfies, and how we represent ourselves online in images, in an effort to generate positive body image and confidence among the members. 

Meet some of the artists below.

Genesis Perez, 18

"I could be the happiest person online, it doesn't mean I'm happy all the time. Growing up with that, and having to fufill this image of yourself that isn't really true is very difficult." 

"Social media is now a part of our everyday life but it doesn't have to control us ... it should be an accent, not what you base yourself on."

Roshawn Williams, 18

"Most people see a good side of me, like a light side, but there is also a slightly darker side, like with emotions and how I'm feeling and stuff."

"You don't really want to show that stuff to people, you just want to be happy and vibrant all the time so it just shows that there is both sides to everything." 

Jess Whyte, 19

"There's always going to be those things where I look in the mirror and I'm like 'Oh, this isn't right,' but the I just need to keep reversing my mind that I don't care, it's me and I'm happy with me." 

"I just want people to really be aware that even the smallest comment, not getting one like on Instagram, that can really affect someone." 

The "I love my selfie" exhibit runs at the Power Plant until June 12.