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Facebook Use Leads to Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders

Facebook Use Leads to Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders

Here a few interesting facts about Facebook:

  • There are more than 500 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • An average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content including web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc. are share each month

With so many users generating such a great deal of content, it’s no wonder that Facebook has had both a positive and negative impact on users, particular younger users.

In fact, a new study from the University of Haifa reveals some very negative consequences for young girls. The study has found that teenage girls who are more active on Facebook are at a higher risk of developing a negative body image and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

The study examined the TV-watching, internet, and magazine-reading habits of 248 Jewish adolescent girls aged 12-18. Participants also filled out questionnaires on their “desire to be thin, satisfaction (or lack of same) with their bodies, weight and eating.”

Results indicate a direct connection between Facebook use and a greater number of girls suffering from eating disorders or negative body image. Facebook, the authors argued, promotes a “single minded focus on oneself – one’s looks, habits, and behaviors.”

The study also found that a girls’ “personal empowerment” lowered her risks of eating disorders or poor body image and that parents could help protect their children by monitoring internet use and talking to them about the content and sites they are engaging in.

To say that Facebook causes eating disorders or a negative body image is hard to say, but the fact that it could be a factor contributing to a girls’ poor body image or body dissatisfaction is something I can believe, especially since the study points out that Facebook has replaced many of the “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” sites sufferers create to promote their love of an extremely thin ideal and give girls advice and tips on how to achieve such a body with eating disorders.

What do you think? Can Facebook cause girls to develop a negative body image or even eating disorders?

Related from Care2:

Study Blames Working Moms for Overweight Kids 

No, the Pill Won’t Make You Gain Weight 

Man Pleads Guilty For Hacking Facebook and Email, Sending Nude Pictures of Victims

Read more: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image by Thomas Euler used with a Creative Commons license - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaseuler/3752691544/

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148 comments

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6:18AM PST on Jan 9, 2013

just call the skinny "look at me look at me" people who post the image a slut.
that is how it works.

acctualy I am upset all the body image pages on FB never mention deformities and such. it's only to make the 200 pound 11 year old feel good about her self.

5:32AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Bully management by users and especially by Facebook is the solution, if in fact there is a connection between body image and FB use, which I still find dubious.

The study was too narrow and didn't appear to consider other influencing features in the girls lives. Assuming the increase in FB use is the direct cause of their body dysmorphia is neither scientific nor I believe accurately reflects causation in these cases.

Increased FB use could just as easily be CAUSED by their sense of loneliness, disconnectedness/abuse within the family, dysfunctional friendships/relationships...

There are far too many causes of body dysmorphia to condense causation down to one element.

That would be better described as scapegoating.

5:29AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Good for you Carolyn!

5:13AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

This is so true. The internet has a horrible impact on people. Right now it is raining beautifully outside but I am just sitting in front of a screen being useless. Ha-- time to change that; I've got to go and get my umbrella out right now!

11:57PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Computerised communication, including cellphones, iPods and the like has its benefits but unfortunately it has a massive negative impact on normal social behaviour and human interaction.

We have been created to interact socially, to react positively to love and to show that we really care for others, for ourselves and for our Creator. Computerised communication and other activities like computer games is taking its toll in terms of isolating people, rendering them unsociable, unable to communicate properly and to learn to give and receive unconditional love.

It's no wonder that there is more conflict and that more wars are currently being fought in the world than in any stage of the recorded history of man.

8:00PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Interesting.

10:29AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

My vote is who ever is letting their teenage girl become obessed with TV Internet and Facebook is to blame.

10:25AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

If you voted no; I hate to break it to you but you are wrong. Facebook like almost every other form of social media or media in general has an impact and will, be it consciously or unconsciously, have an impact on the way people look at themselves in a negative light. It is almost impossible to filter all of out, eventually something sticks. To suggest facebook is the only cause would be equally ludicrous but there is no way one can suggest it isn't part of the problem. Social media however is a root cause of countless social problems to the point where I don't think there is a social problem of today that cannot be linked, be it directly or indirectly to facebook and other popular forms of social media.

9:02PM PDT on May 8, 2011

thanks

8:44AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

I voted No on this because I don't think Facebook alone can be blamed for body image problems or eating disorders. The Internet generally can be partly blamed , but so can TV, pop music, movies, and magazines. all of which can have a negative effect on teenagers, as well as a positive one.

Cyber bullying can cause these problems, "Oh, you're too fat" or "Oh, you're too skinny" or "you're gay" etc, but this is just the use of modern technology by old fashioned bullies.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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