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SALT LAKE CITY -- A troubling phenomenon is becoming more prevalent in which young teenagers post videos of themselves online that ask viewers "Am I pretty or am I ugly?"
The videos have become popular, with at least one getting more than 4 million views on YouTube. The harsh and sometimes degrading responses from commenters often serve to further damage these teens' already vulnerable self-esteem.
"Putting all of your stock in that, 'Oh ok, this is where I'm going to get my self-esteem is people telling me I'm pretty,' and they don't tell you that, then that's a trap," said Julie Hanks with Wasatch Family Therapy
School administrators say this kind of interaction has risks, and that bullying over the internet can happen even outside of school.
Girls at Northwest have asked asked commenters on the internet to rate who is prettier. The responses were nasty, and that affects school morale, according to Pedersen.
"Everyone's all upset and they come to school, and how do they learn, because they're thinking about drama that they created themselves," Peterson said.
A YouTube spokesperson responded to a request for comment Monday:
"YouTube is for people 13 years or older. Our Community Guidelines prohibit videos or comments containing harassment, threats, or hate speech..." the response said.
Therapist Julie Hanks worries that most parents have no idea what their children are doing online.
"Have some kind of program on your computer that tracks everything so you know and have all of the user names and passwords," Hanks said.
Experts say teens don't understand the magnitude and the impact that the internet has. Videos and comments are out there for everyone and they stay there.