In an effort to boost themselves as a performer, in terms of self-branding, building a professional network or simply staying informed, many dancers use social media. The three main platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, see dancers of different demographics use them. The platforms can be hugely beneficial as tools, but if they are not managed correctly then they can also be hugely negative.
Instagram in particular can be a source of huge inspiration, particularly for younger dancers. On the flip side this form of inspiration can push dancers beyond what is healthy in terms of stretching, nutrition and body expectations. Naturally there are age restrictions on the platforms themselves, ahead of any restrictions parents or guardians might impose, but a large impact can still be seen in impressionable young people with a passion for dance.
In addition to any personal pressures young dancers may place in themselves, social media platforms are also breeding grounds for cyberbullying, and dance-related cyberbullying too. Dancers may witness or experience others putting down another dancer’s talent, making up false rumours, and posting negative comments about a dancer’s physical appearance and other personal aspects, such as their faith, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The most worrying part is dancers are reluctant to report these behaviours.
It is only natural that dancers – of any age and ability – will begin comparing their dance abilities and physical bodies to others online, and this often leads them to feel self-conscious if they believe they don’t ‘measure up’. Young dancers can be more provocative in their dancing because of what they see online, and that they often become overly concerned about how many likes or friends they have on social media. Moreover, dancers may be trying dance moves promoted on social media that are too advanced for their age or ability, leading to injury.
Parents, teachers, choreographers, and anyone who works with children, must accept the responsibility that comes with it, and help them navigate their way through social media.