How much time do you spend each day doing something that will make you like yourself less?
It’s sort of a ridiculous question, but it’s worth asking. Another way to phrase it is, how much time do you spend each day on social media? A recent psychology study at the University of South Wales found that “women are less likely to be happy with their bodies if they spend more than an hour a day on social media.” An hour is a long time when we consider how many waking hours there are in a day. If someone is awake for 16 hours a day, an hour on social media is over 6% of that time. But, the truth is that the amount is doubled. The average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day! This repetitive habit takes up a lot of space in our lives – and in our minds.
The research focused on social media’s effects on body image is limited, but growing. Researchers in a Cleveland State University study theorize that “The interactive format and content features of social media, such as the strong peer presence and exchange of a multitude of visual images, suggest that social media, working via negative social comparisons, transportation, and peer normative processes, can significantly influence body image concerns.” In other words, using social media is bound to affect your body image. At its worst, this can turn into situations where people struggling with eating disorders use social media to feed their disorder. While it may not outright cause an eating disorder, it can certainly trigger behavior that leads to one.
An eating disorder is an extreme case. The truth is that social media affects our body image enough to register in our mental health – whether or not it’s a diagnosable problem. There’s a reason most of us take careful measures to ensure any photo posted of us shows us in our best light. Appearances matter a lot on social media, and we become much more hyperaware of our image on platforms like Instagram or Facebook than we do in real life.
If any of this resonates with you, the statistics show you’re not alone – no matter your gender. More than any other factor, surveyed women in a Florida House Experience study placed social media as having the most impact on their body image. Men were not much different, with male respondents ranking social media as having the second biggest impact on their body image (significant other was voted number one.) Go2s is the perfect place to reach out to others about this issue. Your Go2s network is made up of your most trusted connections and is designed to help you live the life you want – not wish for a life you don’t have. What safer digital place to start a discussion about body image and social media?