Reducing Social Media Use Significantly Improves Body Image in Teens & Young Adults according to recent research, young people who reduce social media screen time by 50% for just a few weeks experienced major improvements in their attitude toward their bodies. In the study written up in Psychology of Popular Media, 220 college students between the ages of 17 and 25 participated. The research suggested that young individuals who used social media less felt better about their weight and attractiveness.
The lead author of the study Gary Goldfield stated:
“Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the development of body image issues, eating disorders, and mental illness. Youth are spending, on average, between six to eight hours per day on screens, much of it on social media. Social media can expose users to hundreds of images every day, including those of known personalities, which we know leads to an internalization of the unattainable beauty ideal, resulting in greater dissatisfaction with body weight and shape.”
The author of the study believes that limiting social media usage positively influences body image among a vulnerable demographic of users and should be considered a potential therapy option for problems connected to body image.
The study had various outcomes such as the participants regularly using social media on their phones, and logging in at least twice daily. Also, every individual displayed signs of anxiety or despair.
On a scale from 1 (never) to 5, participants initially replied to remarks concerning their weight and attractiveness (always). The experiment’s first week saw the participants using social media as usual. A screen time tracking tool was used to monitor their usage. Half of the participants reduced social media usage to less than an hour in the second week.
During the remainder of the trial, those who restricted their social media use cut it by an average of 50%, or around 78 minutes each day. The average daily usage time of the other group on social media was 188 minutes. Following that, the participants answered once again the comments made regarding their appearance and weight. The study’s findings show that those who limit their social media use feel significantly better about their weight and appearance.
According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 42% of high school students felt depressed or hopeless for at least two weeks and gave up on their regular activities. The same was true for about 60% of the total female participants. Experts believe young people may act to prevent some of the negative elements of social media since they estimate that young people spend six to eight hours a day in front of screens.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie, one action people may take is to increase their awareness of social media use. The youth should learn to identify the applications that make them talk negatively about themselves. She believes that children should focus on the applications that make them feel good, satisfied, and deserving of value. After a few days, youth can start taking efforts to reduce the usage of application that brings in negative thoughts leading to negative thinking.