More Research Confirms That Facebook Causes Poor Body Image

Social media is a strong influence when it comes to body image, and new research confirms that frequent Facebook use is associated with a higher risk for eating disorders.

Experts from Florida State University found that even just 20 minutes of browsing on the social network was linked to lower body satisfaction than in individuals who were using the Internet to research rainforest animals.

“Young people I work [with] say that overall, social media platforms like Facebook have a negative impact on their body image,” Claire Mysko, who heads youth outreach at the National Eating Disorders Association, reported to Mother Jones.

College women affected by Facebook usage

The study included two phases: in the first, 960 female college students took a standard eating disorder test and also recorded how much time they spent on Facebook; in the second, 84 college women from the first phase of the study were then asked to get on a computer and either spend 20 minutes on Facebook or 20 minutes researching a rainforest animal. Afterwards, they were given a set of questions about their eating habits and Facebook use.

While the women in the second part of the study displayed a range of eating habits, those who had spent time on Facebook reported preoccupation with their weight. Those who researched the rainforest animal, on the other hand, reported a decline in preoccupation with their weight. The women on Facebook also reported an increase in physical anxiety, while the other group reported a decrease in anxiety.

In general, those who reported a higher risk of disordered eating habits were also more likely to place importance on how many “likes” their status updates received, untag themselves from Facebook photos, and compare their photos with those of their female friends.

Researchers concerned by results

Research from American University published last year found that Facebook photo sharing was linked to higher rates of body image problems among young women, while another study published in New Yorker revealed that people who use Facebook are more likely to be unhappy.

And while the current study didn’t address how Facebook may or may not be worse than other social networking sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, the results are still concerning, the team said.

“That these effects could be discerned after only 20 minutes of typical Facebook use in a laboratory setting raises concerns about how the use of the site throughout the day may impact eating disorder risk,” the authors wrote.

The study is published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Source: Mother Jones

Photo credit: marin/

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