The images of thin and seemingly perfect supermodels appearing on TV and in magazines have long been considered to have a negative impact on how women regard themselves. Some women look down and even blame themselves when they see that they look rather too plain and too fat when compared to models and celebrities that they see.
With the advent and growing popularity of social networking sites, it appears that social media also have the same negative influence on the self-esteem of young women. A new study involving college women in the United States, researchers found that Facebook can also have an impact on how young women see themselves.
In the study, researchers from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom, Ohio University and University of Iowa surveyed 881 college women about their technology use, body image, exercise and eating habit. The researchers said that their study, which was presented at the 64th annual International Communication Association Conference in Seattle, focused on college women who are under great pressure to have a particular appearance and body shape due to the influence of media images and interaction with their peers.
The researchers found that the more time the women spent on Facebook, the more they are likely to pay attention to their physical appearance. They are also more likely to feel negative after viewing the photos of other people. Although the amount of time spent on Facebook is not associated with eating disorders, the researchers said it may still have an impact on the women's body image which could potentially lead to eating problems.
The researchers also noted that Facebook may even be more damaging to a women's self-esteem than traditional media. "While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did predict worse body image among participants," said study researcher Petya Eckler, from the University of Strathclyde. "As experts in the field know, poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food."
The findings of the study add to a growing number of research that shows the negative effects of using Facebook. A study published in the journal PLOS One in August suggests that using Facebook can lead to people feeling worse about themselves.