LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A new school year kicks off and with that, students put a lot of emphasis on how they want others to perceive them this year.
From clothes to hairstyles to profile pictures, to a teenager, image is everything. They not only have to worry how people view them in person, but they also have an online image to think about. That is accepted or rejected with a "Like".
For Madison and Mallory Rodriguez, math class takes place in their kitchen. So when it comes to deciding what to wear, the pressure is not there.
"I do not really care what people think of me," said Mallory.
But to their older sister, Morgan who is now a Junior at Pulaski Academy, it does.
"I wanted people to like me," said Morgan.
"If we do not have more than just our parents telling us we are treasured, and we are valuable for who we are then we will start caring more about what is on the outside," said Kelley.
Their mother, Kelley Rodriguez, says it is because that is what is displayed on all forms of social media.
"I post pictures because it is pretty much the popular thing to do," said Mallory.
Mallory uses Pinterest and Instagram.
"I like it when I get 40 'Likes' because I am like yes success," said Mallory.
Madison uses Facebook and Instagram.
"It is just pictures of me and my friends," said Madison.
And Morgan uses Twitter and Facebook. She cut Instagram out of the equation.
"What you post is like who you are," said Morgan.
The online image teenagers create on social media sites carries over to how others perceive them in person.
"Perception is reality," said UALR Student Services Success Initiatives Coordinator Harvell Howard
Howard works with students on their image at UALR. He says teenagers look for 'likes' to feel included.
"It kind of drives some people's self image, which ultimately should not be driven by social media," said Howard.
Howard says it should come from the inside.
"Young people have to realize that a lot of self image has to come from a worth that they already have on the inside of themselves," said Howard.
While Mallory sees herself as a humongous animal lover, Madison sees herself as a good friend and Morgan, easy to talk to. The question: "who are you" leaves them without an answer.
"Um," said Madison. "I do not know I have not really thought about it.
Mallory said, "Umm I actually do not know."
"That is a hard question," said Morgan.
A hard question, they will be spending the rest of their lives figuring out.
In the coming weeks, the Pulaski County Special School District will be passing out a booklet to students with tips on how to best protect themselves and their reputations when they are socializing online.