Does social media use impact on body image amongst young people?

Issue date: 30 October 2014

Study seeks participants for first ever in depth research into body image and social media use; 'Appearance matters on Facebook: Young people, body image and the Internet'

If you would like to know more about this project, or know someone who would like to take part, please contact tel - 0117 328 3975, or tel- 0117 328 1890.

A researcher from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) is seeking to recruit adolescents aged 13 to 16 years and young people aged 18 to 19 years who regularly use Facebook to take part in an in-depth study.

Entitled 'Appearance Matters on Facebook: Young people, Body Image and the Internet', the study will investigate how young people are using social media and how this relates to how they feel about themselves and their bodies.

Dr Amy Slater from the CAR said, “This is the first study of its kind to investigate the impact of social media use on body image concerns. We especially encourage boys to take part as there are an increasing number of boys experiencing body dissatisfaction. All participants will remain anonymous and the findings will contribute to promoting safe and healthy use of technology, which is crucial for enhancing young people's wellbeing.

“We know that young people are avid users of social networking sites, with over 80% of 12-17 year olds using at least one social networking site of which Facebook is by far the most popular. While research on Facebook is growing, as yet there has been very little consideration of any implications for body image.

“Body image is a significant concern for young people in Western societies, being consistently identified as a major issue of concern for both female and male young people. We want to understand the factors that contribute to body dissatisfaction given the known links between body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, depression and lowered self-esteem.”

Dr Slater recently published two studies in collaboration with Professor Marika Tiggemann from the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia that demonstrated that time spent on the internet is correlated with increased body image concerns in both adolescent and pre-adolescent girls.

Dr Slater said, “Our findings indicated that 40.1% of the 1,096 12 and 16 year old girls who took part in the study were dissatisfied with their bodies and one in two were terrified of gaining weight. The more girls use the internet and social media, the more likely they are to experience body shame, dissatisfaction with their weight, and lower self-esteem.”

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