Women, time to turn off your social media notification! Young women who are routinely scrolling up and down social media feeds, liking or commenting on Facebook or Instagram images of friends they find attractive are likely to feel more insecure about their own appearance, scientists say. These recent negative findings on social media were conducted by a team from York University in Canada. Their study was to focus on how young women aged 18-27 years old to see how their interaction with images online can affect their feelings about their own body.
"The results showed that these young adult women felt more dissatisfied with their bodies," said Jennifer Mills, associate professor at York.
''They felt worse about their own appearance after looking at social media pages of someone that they perceived to be more attractive than them," said Mills.
''Even if they felt bad about themselves before they came into the study, on average, they still felt worse after completing the task," she said.
The team conducting the study listed 118 female undergraduate students from diverse ethnic backgrounds with each participant given a questionnaire. They were then asked to indicate using a specific scale about how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with their appearance or body image.
The young girls were then randomly assigned into one of the two experimental conditions. One group of participants were asked to log into Facebook and Instagram for a period of five or more minutes and find one peer they find attractive then leave a comment of their choice.
In the other group, participants were asked to do the same task but to a family member whom they did not think was more attractive than themselves. The result showed that the participants' views of their own appearance were not affected when interacting with their family members.
"I think in a lot of cases, young women who post to social media are hoping to get positive reinforcement for what they're posting and the way in which women use social media is more appearance-based than it is for men," said Mills.
Mills said particularly in this age group, 18 to mid-20s, appearance is very important, and women care a great deal about how they are perceived by other people. They are also most likely to use social media.
"When we compare ourselves to other people, that has the potential to affect the valuation of ourselves," said Mills.
"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," she said.
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"There are people who may be triggered by social media and who are especially vulnerable," she added.