Just When You Thought You Were Safe….

New research from the University of Haifa suggests that the amount of time spent on Facebook could have a relationship to the incidence of eating disorders.

The study of 248 teenage girls focused on the magazine, television, and Facebook behaviors and found that the more time spent on Facebook, the more like the girls were to suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or negative body image.

Not surprisingly, Facebook disagrees with the assessment. In their statement, they say: “Young people are surrounded by Photoshopped models in magazines and airbrushed film stars, but when they spend time on Facebook they’re with their friends. … Far from exacerbating self esteem problems, Facebook gives people closer contact with a network of supportive friends and family.”

Pay attention – this distinction is important. Researchers aren’t saying that Facebook causes eating disorders. Instead the study shows a correlation, or a relationship between eating disorders and spending time on Facebook–and watching popular TV shows that reflect an “extreme standard of physical image” and looking at other gossipy websites. So there are certainly other factors here.

And for the good news? Researchers also found that parental involvement and “personal empowerment” had a positive effect on the incidence of eating disorders.

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