“People say I’m ugly, so tell me, am I?” is a daring question to ask online, but dozens of teenagers, mostly girls, are unhesitatingly putting it out on the Internet. Some of these teens are even younger than the required age to use YouTube, according to site’s terms of service – a user must be older than 13 to upload a video. It’s a disturbing trend: some of the videos are garnering thousands, if not millions, of hits.
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“I have a pretty basic question,” one girl begins, after revealing that her friends tell her she’s pretty but she’s not sure because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.
There, they face the wrath of YouTube commenters, some of who aren’t very shy or downright cruel about their opinions. “Just the fact that u did this video makes u ugly. But u were ugly already,” a viewer commented on one video.
That’s not to say there isn’t kinder treatment, as one user pointed out that “Beauty comes from within… that means when you are kind and treat others as you would like to be treated, it shows on [your] face and then you will always look and feel beautiful.”
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The fact that some of the teens can be young as 11 years old signifies something is definitely amiss. Does YouTube need to monitor these videos more closely, or is it part of the need for greater parent vigilance when it comes to their children’s online activities? When every action is anonymous, commenters playing on the insecurities of young tweens is exactly the last thing the Internet needs.
Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.