Poor body image linked with Facebook time

February 21, 2012
Dr Amy Slater

Teenage girls are spending a concerning amount of time on the Internet, potentially leading to low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction, research by Flinders University reveals.

As part of the NetGirls project, Flinders psychologist Dr Amy Slater has surveyed 1100 from 18 different high schools across South Australia to determine how the Internet impacts their sense of identity and .

The survey found in Years 8-9 were spending more than one and a half hours a day on and had an average of 215 Facebook “friends” – with some girls having more than 600 contacts.

On average, survey participants spent three hours and 27 minutes a day using , chat sites and watching TV – well above the Australian guidelines that recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day for adolescents.

More than 40 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their weight and girls who spent more time grooming, listening to music and using the Internet generally felt worse about themselves and their bodies, and experienced higher feelings of depression.

In comparison, girls who reported spending more time doing homework had more positive feelings about their bodies, a stronger sense of identity and reduced feelings of depression.

Dr Slater, a research fellow in the School of Psychology, said that although TV commercials, magazines and other forms of mass media are frequently criticised for their portrayal of women, the Internet is likely just as influential in shaping ’ views of themselves and their bodies.

“The same ideals that are presented about women’s bodies on TV and in magazines are also reflected on the Internet, for instance we found high levels of beauty products and weight loss ads on websites aimed at young girls,” Dr Slater said.

consistently comes up as one of the biggest, most important issues for young people and our research has shown that the alarming amount of time these girls are spending on the Internet may have a huge impact on the way they think and feel about their bodies.”

Despite the countless worldwide studies on the representation of women in the media, Dr Slater said the role of the Internet and social networking needs further investigation.

“There’s not a great deal of research about it at the moment so once we’ve finished this study we’d like to look at the issue in more detail, including how girls are using Internet sites, the types of pictures they’re posting of themselves and how this makes them feel.”

She said the ongoing NetGirls project, which is part of an Australian Research Council funded project awarded to Flinders University Professor Marika Tiggemann, will be repeated later this year with the same group of girls to examine how internet use and attitudes develop with age.

Dr Slater’s work, including studies on the premature sexualisation of young girls, received one of Flinders Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Early Career Researchers, an annual acknowledgment of researchers who have made a noteworthy contribution to the University since finishing their PhD.

Explore further: Feelings of depression and binge eating go hand in hand in teen girls

Related Stories

Feelings of depression and binge eating go hand in hand in teen girls

December 13, 2011
Teenage girls who feel depressed are twice as likely to start binge eating as other girls are, according to a new nationwide study. The reverse is also true: Girls who engage in regular binge eating have double the normal ...

The lasting effects of violence on teen girls

January 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Throughout the world, although teenage boys are exposed to more violence than girls, girls tend to be more negatively affected by these experiences than boys. A new study shows the specific effects of ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.