Problem: Posting photos on Facebook allows us to present an idealized version of our lives—our dinners well-plated, our friends always smiley. We can also only post the pictures of ourselves in which we look the most beautiful, and untag the ones we don’t like. And this distorts reality.
As a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders notes, “Facebook represents a ubiquitous merging of two social influences linked to risk for developing eating disorders through reinforcement of the thin ideal: media and peers.”
Methodology: Researchers from Florida State University had 960 female college students take an eating attitudes test to determine how disordered their eating was. They also asked the students how much time they spent on Facebook each week. From that sample, they recruited 84 women with an average age of 18 for a second study.
Some of the participants were asked to log in to Facebook and spend 20 minutes on the site. The rest were asked to spend that 20 minutes researching ocelots on Wikipedia, and watching a video of an ocelot on YouTube. “The control condition was designed to match the experimental condition on exposure to text versus images while eliminating any images related to the human body,” the study reads.