More time on social media, more body image problems for women...

Dr Martin Graff, Reader in Psychology, Head of Research in Psychology

Dr Martin Graff

Spending over an hour on social media each day can lead to increased body image issues for women.

That is the key finding of researchby Dr Martin Graff of the University of South Wales (USW) that is being presented today at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Nottingham.

Working alongside fellow researcher Oktawia Czarnomska, Dr Graff investigated the link between time spent on social media and body image concerns in 100 female participants recruited from a university.

They were asked the amount of time that they spent each day on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and split into four groups accordingly. The group that spent the least time on social media were on it for less than 30 minutes on it each day, with the most spending more than 90 minutes on it each day.

Participants were then given a series of questionnaires to find three measures relating to body image – the extent to which they had internalised society’s view of the ideal body, the extent to which they were concerned by how their body was seen by others, and motivation to exercise.

Their internalisation of society’s view of the ideal female as thin was measured by asking the extent to which participants agreed with statement such as “slender women are more attractive”, whilst their level of objectification was measured with a series of 24 statements along similar lines, with a higher score indicating higher levels of objectification.

The researchers found that those participants who spent more time on social media each day, particularly if this time exceeded one hour, scored higher on all three of the body image-related measures.

Dr Graff said: “Previous research has indicated a link between exposure to social networking sites and body image concerns, and we were able to build on this by showing that it is not just initial exposure to these sites that can cause an issue, but the daily time spent on them.

“We were able to show that spending more time each day on those social networking sites that are often used to post images of oneself, and for comparison with others, is linked to having an unhealthy relationships both with body image and potentially exercise as well.

“Our findings may be important for those who are working with females who have body image concerns, as social media use may play a central role in it.”

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