Facebook encourages body issues, according to a study, demonstrating the ill effects of excessive social networking on self-image.
The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt found half of Facebook users surveyed reported being more conscious of their weight and bodies after viewing Facebook photos, and one-third said they were sad after looking at photos, sparking concern the site may foster unhealthy body images.
“Facebook is making it easier for people to spend more time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing they looked like someone else,” said Dr. Harry Brandt, director of The Center for Eating Disorders. “In this age of modern technology and constant access to smartphones and the Internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to remove themselves from images and other triggers that promote negative body image, low self-esteem and may ultimately contribute to eating disorders.”
The study matches other research about Facebook’s psychological fallout, emphasizing users’ ability to peek into the lives of others often promotes constant comparison and causes negative thoughts.
In the medical community, doctors even coined the term “Facebook Depression” to describe children who struggle to control their preoccupation with social networking, pointing out the social network’s ability to hurt young people’s development.
In addition, an Australian study linked excessive Facebook use to loneliness, while a slew of other studies explored Facebook’s potential to create harmful addictive cycles. Put together, there is a growing body of evidence to support the notion Facebook can influence and change how users see themselves and relate to others.
Facebook’s addictive qualities are well-documented, and the study suggests users with a history of body image problems and self-esteem issues may want to moderate their use of the site.