A new study has found that students who spend lots of time on Facebook are more prone to developing eating disorders.
The study found that female students in particular were more likely to develop an eating disorder they spent large amounts of time on Facebook. Researchers found that these women are more likely to be body conscious and anxious than other groups. The women also put more stock in the number of attention each of their posts gets. This could mean placing more value on likes, shares and comments.
The study looked at 960 female college students, the amount of time they spent of Facebook, the weight they placed on social media likes and how often they untagged themselves in photos.
“In examining the immediate consequences of Facebook use, we found that 20 minutes of Facebook use contributed to maintenance of higher weight and shape concerns and anxiety compared to a control internet condition. This causal link is important because anxiety and body image concerns both increase risk for developing eating disorders,” said researcher Dr Pamela Keel.
Keel said she believes Facebook has such a large influence on women for three reasons. First it is seem by users peers which can incur social pressure and judgement. Second, the social media provider carries social messages like advertising which can further push body stereotypes and expectations that are unobtainable. Finally, with the advent of smartphones, social media is readily accessible everywhere. That means these women are never able to escape the judgment they keep in their purse or pocket.
This is just one more study in a growing body of evidence that shows a link between social media and eating disorders. The real question now is, how influential is social media and what can be done to help reassure young people about their body image issues.
To learn more about eating disorders visit our knowledge centre.