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Yearbook Challenge

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Foto: pexels.com/sound on

What would it have looked like to have attended a US high school thirty years ago? This question is on the minds of many on the web right now. Under the hashtag #yearbookchallenge circulate on TikTok and Instagram numerous photos in the style of yearbook portraits from the 1990s. Behind the viral trend is a paid AI app.

What is the Yearbook Challenge?

In the Yearbook Challenge, users create photos of themselves in the style of an American yearbook from the 1990s using the app Epik – AI Photo Editor. The app uses artificial intelligence to rejuvenate the face and add different hairstyles, clothes and accessories. A challenge becomes who mixes his real yearbook photo under the new pictures and asks the followers which one is the original. Both celebrities and many influencers have already taken part in the trend.

Virtual time jump inspires young people

“Just graduated from high school for $6.99! What do you think of the photos?”. The allure of transforming yourself into an American high school teenager is tied to all the myths and dreams surrounding a school days in the US. Teenagers enjoy using AI apps to edit their own selfies so that they look like something out of a high school series. In addition, it is exciting for them to receive photos that look similar to the pictures from their parents’ youth. Many young people also emulate their role models on social media and want to get in on the current trend as well.

What can be problematic?

Several selfies are needed for photo editing. The South Korean app developer SNOW is behind the app Epik. Anyone who uploads photos agrees that they will be stored and processed by the app. In addition, personal data must be entered in the app. The AI-generated photos borrow heavily from gender stereotypes such as poses and clothing, and beauty ideals such as smooth skin and symmetrical faces. The AI app erases irregularities of the original images altogether. Full body photos in particular are greatly altered by making them slimmer. Similar to the use of face filters, participating in the Yearbook Challenge can lead to distorted self-perception and unhealthy comparison to supposedly perfect bodies of others.

How can parents deal with this?

If your child would like to participate in the Yearbook Challenge, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Epik – KI Photo Editor app is free to download, but you will have to pay for the photos. Depending on how fast the images are to be generated, costs between €3.99 and €6.99 are incurred. Talk to your child about in-app purchases, determine together how much money they are allowed to spend in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, and avoid putting a payment option in the stores to prevent unwanted purchases.
  • Talk to your child about the right to your own image. Explain to him that all photos, once they end up on the Internet, are difficult to delete. It is also not possible to control who stores or forwards the images.
  • The app requires access to functions such as the phone’s camera and photos, and collects personal data.
  • Encourage your child to be economical with their own data and think carefully together about whether photo editing can really be done with this app – or look together for an alternative, more data-friendly app.
  • Share unrealistic beauty ideals on social media with your child and observe whether your child compares himself or herself to the edited images or is influenced by them. Make him realize that these images do not have much to do with reality and strengthen his self-esteem to find himself as beautiful as he is.
  • Join the conversation with your child on the topic of artificialintelligence and share your thoughts on the opportunities and limitations of AI-powered applications.

The app can be fun and creative way to see yourself in different roles and ages. Why not try out different AI image generators together and talk about the results?

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