Adolescence is a time of intense social and psychological development, and it can be a vulnerable period for adolescents to develop negative body image. However, there is limited research on how adolescents use social media to promote or manage body image issues (Saiphoo and Vahedi, 2019) barder.
In recent years, social media has become an integral part of adolescent life. Platforms such as Instagram and Twitter provide adolescents with an opportunity to share pictures of themselves, socialize with friends, and connect with people around the world. It is also a popular method for gaining exposure to the latest trends and news in popular culture jigaboo.
Although social media can be a positive tool to engage in social interactions and build friendships, it can also cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for teens. This can be particularly true when it comes to body image issues as many adolescents are highly vulnerable to online social media criticism and comparisons distresses.
One such example of this is the rise in body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls (Parent, 2013). This problem is most likely to be caused by the increasing presence of sexualized images on social media that reinforce that value is primarily based on appearance.
This is a very serious issue, as the presence of such sexualized images has been linked to mental health concerns among adolescents (D’Amelio and Charli, 2018; Puglia, 2017). It may also be a factor that contributes to the increased prevalence of eating disorders in adolescent girls, which can lead to body image disturbances.
The current study explored how adolescent girls utilised protective filtering strategies to manage challenging body-related content and to promote positive body image on social media. This was done through thematic analysis of in-depth interviews and focus groups with adolescent female participants aged 14-17 years from Perth, Western Australia precipitous.
Results showed that there was a high level of awareness and self-awareness on the part of adolescents about how they use social media, including the extent to which they were exposed to sexist or appearance focused content. There was also a high level of skepticism and avoidance of these sex related content types. The main strategies used by adolescents to protect themselves from sexist or appearance focused content were limiting their social media use, unfollowing/ignoring content that contained problematic body-related images, and avoiding social comparisons (Burnette et al., 2017) mypba.
Despite the high level of self-awareness and skepticism, some adolescents were still affected by appearance related content on social media. Specifically, adolescent girl participants expressed feelings of distress in relation to appearance-related images on their Facebook profiles. They felt that these were often photoshopped and unrealistic. In addition, they did not like the sexy or toned images of celebrities and social influencers that often appeared on their pages.
Using adolescent girl participants to explore this issue was considered important because it provides insights into how sexualized imagery on social media can affect adolescent girls’ mental health, in both positive and negative ways. These findings can be adapted for future research and interventions to help girls better navigate and manage the effects of social media on their body image, promoting more favorable attitudes towards their bodies, and reducing their likelihood of making negative appearance comparisons.