Body image versus social media: we’ve all heard plenty of opinions on this topic. Adults have decided that social media is detrimental to our society, and teens have embraced it more than ever. So, what’s the truth? Is social media toxic to a positive body image? Is it really affecting our society in such a negative way?
According to a study conducted in the Department of Psychology at the University of Turin, Italy, “Students recording frequent use of HVSM (high-visual social media, such as Instagram or Snapchat) recorded significantly higher body image concerns and internalizing symptoms (anxiety, depression, etc.) than peers reporting no use of HVSM.” Furthermore, findings from a study conducted in the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario, states that, “ASME (active social media engagement) with attractive peers’ appearance-based social media resulted in worsened body image in young adult women.” Merely reading through these studies might convince one that social media is, in fact, detrimental to young adults. However, there are different studies that show the another side of the story.
For example, according to “Social Media: its Impact with Positive and Negative Aspects” by Shabnoor Siddiqui and Tajinder Singh, “Social media sites can allow teens to find support online.” Having the knowledge that at any time, you can reach out to someone that cares about you and what you may be going through is a comforting thought, especially to those that need it most. The research paper also points out that social media sites promote positive change throughout our society. For example, the central platform of many awareness campaigns (like this month’s: Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence) is social media. Without the ability to spread information with this ease and efficiency, raising awareness for these specific causes would be near impossible.
There is another standpoint on this topic. The title of the article, “The Effect of Social Media on Well-Being Differs from Adolescent to Adolescent” by Ine Beyens and other authors eludes that, “Adolescents who had spent more time actively or passively using social media than their peers did not report significantly higher or lower levels of well-being than their peers.” The study results continued, “On average, there was no association between overall use and well-being: Adolescents’ well-being did not increase or decrease at moments when they had used social media, either passively or actively.”
Overall, social media is not always one-hundred percent toxic to a positive body image. However, if adolescents aren’t careful about limiting their exposure, it can become so. Taking this information into consideration while using social media can drastically increase your chances of maintaining a positive body image.
Beyens, Ine, et al. “The Effect of Social Media on Well-Being Differs from Adolescent to
Adolescent.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 July 2020, www.nature.com/
Hogue, Jacqueline V., and Jennifer S. Mills. “The Effects of Active Social Media Engagement
with Peers on Body Image in Young Women.” Science Direct, Elsevier, 12 Nov. 2018,
Marengo, D., et al. “Highly-Visual Social Media and Internalizing Symptoms in Adolescence:
The Mediating Role of Body Image Concerns.” Science Direct, Elsevier, 3 Jan. 2018,
Siddiqui, Shabnoor, and Tajinder Singh. “Social Media: Its Impact with Positive and Negative
Aspects.” IJCATR, 2016, ijcatr.com/archives/volume5/issue2/ijcatr05021006.pdf.