March 30, 2012

Facebook Causing Poor Self Image In 75 Percent Of Users

According to the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland, Facebook may be promoting poor body image among its users.

The survey by the center found that 75 percent of Facebook users said they were unhappy with their bodies, and 51 percent said seeing photos of themselves on the site made them more weight conscious.

“As people spend more time thinking about what's wrong with their bodies, less time is spent on the positive realm and engaging in life in meaningful and fulfilling ways,” said Dr. Steven Crawford, the center´s associate director, in a statement.

A little over 30 percent of those who were surveyed said they felt sad when they compared Facebook photos of themselves to their friends' photos.

Researchers from the mental health institution are encouraging Facebook users to be mindful of their use of the site and the impact it has on them.

“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 Sheppard Pratt Center, in a statement.

“In this age of modern technology and constant access to smart phones 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 survey of 600 users found that both teens and adults are affected negatively by the social networking site.

The researchers said that people spend a lot of time on Facebook, and in doing so they spend time analyzing their bodies and the bodies of others.

The mental institution also said that the world's largest social network has been promoting a "camera ready" mentality among the general public.

Crawford said that spending time on Facebook and analyzing images may ultimately make users cause more harm to their bodies through dieting.

“When people become more concerned with the image they project online and less concerned with holistic markers of health in real life, their body image may suffer and they may even turn, or return, to harmful fad diets or dangerous weight-control behaviors," he said in the statement.

The researchers hope the survey encourages people to reevaluate the time they spend on the social networking site.

"We hope the results of this survey encourage people to really look at how their online behavior affects their outlook, and we caution them against being overly critical of their own bodies or other people's bodies while on Facebook and other social networking sites," said Crawford.