With the new age came many new inventions. The advent and popularity of social media are probably one of the biggest milestones of the current century. This new form of media plays a big role in the most significant decisions made worldwide.
From economics to political issues, the importance of social media cannot be neglected. In addition to providing a powerful platform for people to express themselves and campaign, it can also be of great use for people in finding or expanding their work.
However, in the middle of all of these advantages are some negative effects. Many studies highlight the darker side, connecting social media with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
On the other hand, research has also linked the online world with improvements in mental health. For example, some studies show that being more expressive online helps people fight loneliness and depression. This is especially good for those who are not very active in their offline lives.
Using social media may also be great for entertainment purposes. A number of people also reportedly use it as a coping mechanism.
All of the information online may also help you become better in your field, fitness routine, or style. But what if your life does not match those of who you see and follow online?
New research focuses on this aspect of social media by looking at the effect of body image and issues in young women.
It was 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. Its findings can be found in the journal Body Image.
Read the research here.
How Was the Study Conducted?
For the study, around 118 women between the ages of 18-27 were recruited. These women were then further divided into two groups.
In the first group, the researchers asked the participants to log into their Facebook or Instagram accounts and go through the profiles of a peer they ‘more attractive’ than themselves.
In the second group, the women went through profiles of relatives or friends they did not think were more good looking than themselves.
After both the groups were done with the tasks, they were asked to fill a questionnaire regarding their feelings on their own appearance after seeing the profiles.
What Were the Results?
After filling the questionnaires, the researchers looked at the answers and found that there was a big difference in the women’s perception of themselves. After going through profiles of relatives who they did not consider attractive, there was no big difference.
However, going through profiles of peers who they thought were more attractive increased negative body image. Hence, the young women were harder on themselves.
Even if many of the participants were dissatified with their appearances before the observation, their body image issues worsened after it.
Conclusively, Mills comments on these findings, saying:
“We really need to educate young people on how social media use could be making them feel about themselves and how this could even be linked to stringent dieting, eating disorders, or excessive exercise. There are people who may be triggered by social media and who are especially vulnerable”