Social media has become an indispensable component of modern life, but it can have detrimental effects on mental health in unexpected ways. Social media posts about body dissatisfaction or increased worries about appearance may cause distressing effects for those suffering from eating disorders and related psychiatric conditions that cause body image concerns.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
While social media can be an extremely useful resource for many individuals, it should also be acknowledged that its use can also have adverse consequences. Most notably, it may lead to unrealistic expectations among young people.
Social media platforms, which feature carefully edited pictures of models and celebrities, can lead to unrealistic beauty standards that create stress among young people, which can ultimately result in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
As such, social media use should be limited, body-positive accounts chosen and self-care practices prioritized. Furthermore, media literacy training for young people is vital in order to help them recognize how social media distorts reality – this knowledge may help avoid some of its negative side effects such as cyberbullying and unrealistic body image comparisons on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. The Love Discovery Institute blog post entitled Navigating Social Media: Impacts on Body Image and Mental Health provides more in depth details as well as helpful strategies on healthy use.
2. Social Comparisons
Leon Festinger introduced Social Comparison Theory (SCT) in 1954 as an explanation for why people tend to evaluate their opinions, values, achievements, and abilities relative to those of others. Comparing ourselves against others may provide motivation or inspiration; however, this comparison process can leave us feeling dissatisfied and depressed.
Making upward comparisons involves looking at those who are better than us in various domains such as appearance, wealth, intelligence and success. Doing this can motivate us to work harder on our own performance; however it’s essential that we compare with people on an equal playing field so as to not become discouraged.
Parents and teachers can assist young people in recognizing which role models they’re comparing themselves with online, such as unrealistic thinness ideals portrayed by media. By doing this, they may help their young people assess their bodies according to health criteria rather than social media standards and become less self-critical about themselves.
3. Self-Esteem Issues
Low self-esteem can have devastating repercussions in one’s life, from how they interact with others to the amount they eat and exercise, as well as sleep they get. A low sense of self-worth may even contribute to depression, anxiety and an unhealthy body image.
Social media platforms often show images of people with unrealistic beauty standards that contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance and body-shaming on these platforms. Furthermore, these online environments also create the perfect conditions for cyberbullying and body-shaming to flourish; individuals suffering from low self-esteem often end up feeling depressed, anxious, and alone on these social networks.
Attaining a positive body image doesn’t require abandoning social media altogether, but taking steps such as setting time limits for device usage daily, can help. Reminding yourself that physical appearance is only one aspect of being human and appreciating all aspects of yourself is key to developing self-love and embracing what makes you special!
Many individuals are familiar with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, each boasting its own distinctive set of features that cater specifically to specific interests or demographics.
Apps designed to aid weight loss have become more and more popular alongside the digital revolution, contributing to a culture that prioritizes physical appearance while encouraging unhealthy weight-loss strategies that leave users dissatisfied with their bodies. This trend can increase body dissatisfaction.
Anxiety and depression are at risk among those who feel self-dissatisfied with their bodies, and body image preoccupation can contribute to disordered eating, suicidal thoughts, and compulsive behaviors – particularly among sexual minority men with symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
Though eliminating social media entirely may be difficult, there are ways you can reduce its negative effect on your mental wellbeing. For instance, instead of following celebrities with heavily edited photos on Instagram, try looking up accounts that feature inspiring landscapes and nutritious food instead.