Does Facebook contribute to eating disorders? Can a friend’s “selfie” destroy a teen’s self-esteem?
A new study warns that the more time young women spend on Facebook looking at “selfies” and other user photos, the more likely they are to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
“As their time browsing the profiles and photographs of classmates increases, they pay more attention to their appearance,” according to an article in Metro that cites a joint British-UK study.
TV and print ads have long been accused of promoting distorted body image among this age group. This study shows that social media might be even more dangerous.
“Participants in social media are people we know. These comparisons are more relevant and hit closer to home, yet they may be just as unrealistic,” said Dr. Petya Eckler from the University of Strathclyde, one of the researchers involved in the study.
“As experts in the field know, poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food. More than 850 college students were asked about their body image, Facebook use and routine for eating and exercising. The site could be more damaging to self-esteem than traditional media such as TV and magazines,” Dr. Eckler warns.
This research just might give parents and educators sme new leverage in their attempts to limit the time young people spend on social media, especially as young women are learning to develop a life-long relationship with their own bodies.