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Finding Her True Self


Silvia experienced hurtful face swap pranks from girls at school who digitally superimposed her face onto inappropriate images and shared them online. Her brother Marcus, at age 10, became a fierce defender of Silvia and others targeted for being "different."
Silvia experienced hurtful face swap pranks from girls at school who digitally superimposed her face onto inappropriate images and shared them online. Her brother Marcus, at age 10, became a fierce defender of Silvia and others targeted for being "different."



 

"Our daughter's struggle with face swap apps and bullying

helped our family embrace authentic identity."



Our 7-year-old daughter Silvia is the only one in our family who has directly faced the challenges of identity loss in the digital age. She opened our eyes to the harsh realities kids today navigate with social media, face swap apps, and online bullying. When we first became aware of the issues she was going through, we felt lost on how to guide her through this unfamiliar landscape.





It started when some girls at Silvia's school began using face swap apps to superimpose her face onto inappropriate images and share them online. The mocking spread through her friend group like wildfire. Silvia came home in tears many days, questioning her self-worth and becoming withdrawn.


As parents, we felt blindsided and ill-equipped at first. But Silvia showed incredible resilience and taught us so much about reclaiming one's authentic identity in an era of manufactured digital identities.


One night during our bedtime talks, Silvia confided, "I feel so lucky that I know who I really am inside, even if people try to make me into something else online." Her self-awareness at such a young age floored us. In the midst of cruel bullying, she clung to her true self.


Silvia went on, "I may not be able to control what face gets put on me in those apps, but I can still choose how I see myself and how I treat others with kindness." Profound wisdom from a second grader.


Just as our eyes were opened to the pitfalls of face swap apps and cyberbullying, Silvia's eyes were opened to the beauty of her genuine identity that no filter or prank could distort. We began to see how her struggles were making her stronger and more anchored in her values.


We also saw how Silvia's experiences shaped her older brother Marcus and younger sister Elena in positive ways. They became "upstanders" at school, defending other kids who were targeted for being "different." Their capacity for empathy profoundly deepened after witnessing their sister's painful encounters.


While her peers tried to define Silvia by altering her face, she taught us to define ourselves by our character, resilience, and compassion for others. She's the one who still sees herself--her true beautiful self--despite all attempts to distort her identity.


Our family has emerged from this with a deeper appreciation for authenticity and rejecting artificial ideals. We now have resources and tools (like Traporithm-to-Riches Rescuing Dreams materials, parental controls, anti-cyberbullying initiatives from schools/communities]) to protect our kids' identities and equip them to be ethical digital citizens.


I'm deeply grateful Silvia opened our eyes to this issue. She empowered us to reaffirm the real identities in our family that no filter, prank or harsh words can define. Her struggles broke our hearts at first, but also shattered our naiveté about the toxic situations kids face online. Now we can be purposeful guides as our children cultivate lives anchored in their authentic selves.



Image of Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer and mom of two

Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer and mom of three in Denver, Colorado. She previously wrote articles for ParentLife magazine examining how to raise emotionally resilient kids in the digital age. Karen now partners with local schools and community organizations to run workshops empowering parents and kids to be ethical digital citizens.



 




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