A study from the American University suggests that elevated photo-related activities on Facebook is positively linked to body image disturbance in adolescent girls. Published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the researchers attempted to identify the specific Facebook features associated with body image disturbances in teens.
A total of 103 middle and high school females completed a 20 – 30 minute survey by the Center for Eating Disorders during a free period over the course of a week. Body image measures in the survey were presented to the participants in randomized order to minimize sequencing effects.
The questionnaire measured total Facebook use, specific Facebook feature use, weight dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, thin ideal internalization, appearance comparison, and self-objectification. Appearance exposure score was measured based on the participants’ use of the Facebook photo applications in relation to total Facebook use.
The researchers revealed there were no considerable correlations found for total Facebook use and any of the body image measures, even when body mass index was accounted for. However, the analysis showed the significant differences between non-Facebook users and Facebook users for age, self-objectification and physical appearance comparisons.
Although the general Facebook use did not affect body image, adolescent girls who engaged in photo activities on Facebook were found to engage in self-objectification. These teens were more likely to value a viewers perspective in the form of “likes” and comments than value what they internally felt about themselves.
Increase photo-related activities could increase the chances of girls suffering from eating disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health says eating disorders caused by consuming extremely low amounts of food or severely overeating can cause detrimental problems to a person’s typical diet.
Severe concern about body weight or shape may also signal an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. More than 20 million women have suffered from a significant eating disorder at some point in their lives.