A recent study reviewed the effects of Facebook use on women and found this networking site erodes confidence as women tend to develop negative body images.
The study conducted by U.S. researchers in collaboration with researchers in U.K. found that increased time on Facebook leads to negative feelings among college-going women with increased comparisons of figures and body sizes with friends.
Earlier it used be magazine models that influenced the idea of an ideal body shape. But this study discovered that now Facebook too plays the same role. The researchers wanted to check whether Facebook pressurizes women to look good. They were surprised to learn that it actually does, reports LiveScience.
The study researchers included Petya Eckler, University of Strathclyde; Yusuf Kalyango Jr., Ohio University; and Ellen Paasch, University of Iowa.
The researchers surveyed over 881 college women about their Facebook use, along with eating, exercise habits and body image. Using this data the researchers were able to predict the frequency at which women developed negative feelings about the shape of their own body after viewing someone else’s photo or posts. They also predicted how often women compared their own bodies to those of their friends.
“Public health professionals who work in the area of eating disorders and their prevention now have clear evidence of how social media relates to college women’s body image and eating disorders. While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did predict worse body image among participants,” said Eckler in a statement.
The researchers observed that increased time spent on Facebook was directly linked to more negative feelings and comparisons with the bodies of friends. Among those women who wanted to lose weight, excess time on Facebook eventually led to higher attention on one’s physical appearance including body and clothing.
Eckler also said that, “As experts in the field know, poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food. The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know. These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media.”
This finding will be presented at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Seattle.