Reduced Social Media Use Improves Self-Perceptions of Weight and Appearance in Young People
A new study published by the American Psychological Association has found that reducing social media use can significantly improve young people’s self-perceptions regarding their weight and physical appearance. The study, conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media, involved 220 undergraduate students between the ages of 17 and 25. Of the total surveyed, 76% were female, 23% were male, and 1% identified
The participants were asked to rank how they felt about their looks on a five-point scale and respond to statements such as “I’m pretty happy about the way I look” and “I am satisfied with my weight” on a scale from “never” to “always.” For the first week, all participants were asked to use social media as they normally would. During the second week, half the group was asked to reduce their social media use to no more than 60 minutes per day.
At the end of the experiment, the group that reduced their social media use had a “significant improvement” in how they regarded both their overall appearance and body weight. Lead author Gary Goldfield, PhD, a researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, said in a press release, “Social media can expose users to hundreds or even thousands of images and photos every day, including those of celebrities and fashion or fitness models, which we know leads to an internalization of beauty ideals that are unattainable for almost everyone, resulting in greater dissatisfaction with body weight and shape.”
The researchers are now in the process of conducting a larger study to see if reduction in social media use can be maintained for longer periods and whether that reduction can lead to even greater psychological benefits.
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