Social media use and its impact on body image, according to research

A recent research discloses how the use of social media could affect the self-perceived body image of adolescent girls and young women. As social media play a vital role in the lives of adolescent girls and boys, its impact on body image and the awareness of beauty continues to grow.

Being active on social media may influence how young women observe their own look. Newly, the effects of social media on our well-being and mental health have been the topic of much discussion.

According to the social displacement theory, for instance, the more time we expend socializing online, the less time we are probable to spend mixing in the offline world. This could cause a decrease in one’s general well-being.

However, new studies have dismissed this myth, with researchers disagreeing that social media is “not immoral in the way people think it is.” Some other studies have drawn relations between social media use and loneliness, proposing that going on a social media “detox” lowers feelings of loneliness and despair.

Does social media have an influence on our body confidence and how we distinguish our own appearance, however?

The new study — led by Jennifer Mills, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, and Jacqueline Hogue, a Ph.D. student in the department’s Clinical Program — observed the effects of social media on the self-perceived body image of young women.
Mills and Hogue published their conclusions in the journal Body Image.

Studying social media use and body image

Mills and Hogue divided 118 female undergraduate students aged 18–27 into two groups. Participants in the first group logged into Instagram and Facebook for 5 minutes or more and were requested to discover one peer of approximately the same age whom they “openly deliberated more attractive” than themselves.

Then, the scientists asked all of the students to comment on the photos of their peers. One group was taken as a control group. In this group, the women logged into Instagram and Facebook for at least 5 minutes. They were asked to leave a comment on a post of a family member whom they did not reflect more attractive.

Before and after these tasks, the students filled in a survey which asked about how much disappointment they felt about their overall appearance, using a scale ranging from “none” to “very much.”

“Participants ranked how displeased they felt about their body and appearance by placing a vertical line on a 10cm horizontal line,” the authors describe. The scientists recorded the responses “to the nearest millimeter,” which formed a 100-point scale.

Their outcomes exposed that after interacting with attractive peers, the women’s insights of their own appearance altered. While interacting with their family members did not have any kind of bearing on their body image.

“Social media engagement with attractive peers rises adverse state body image,” describe the researchers.
Mills remarks on the discoveries, saying, “The consequences showed that these young adult women felt more displeased with their bodies.”

“They felt poorer about their own appearance after searching social media pages of somebody that they supposed to be more beautiful and attractive than them. And if they felt immoral about themselves before they came into the task, on average, they still felt worse after carrying out the study.”
Jennifer Mills

“When we compare ourselves with other people, that can possibly affect the valuation of ourselves,” she adds.
“We actually need to educate young individuals on how social media use could be making them feel about themselves and how this could even be connected to eating disorders, strict dieting, or excessive exercise. There are individuals who may be triggered by social media and who are particularly susceptible,” concludes Mills.



Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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