Effects of social media on teen body image

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 18:28:57-04

As you scroll through your social media feed, you may find yourself drawing comparisons to other user's lives.

Then, suddenly you may feel inadequate, bad about your body image or questioning your self-worth.

It's a very real problem for people of all ages, particularly for children growing up in this social media age. Experts said we actually have an opportunity to make change for the better.

Sad girl in the mirror

According to Common Sense Media, teens spend nine hours a day scrolling, posting, liking and sharing on social media.

"I feel like every year you get more and more friends - not friends, but followers - on social media, so there's more people judging you," 14-year-old Ashleigh Holmes said.

"I feel like I'm really I like being connected to my friends," 13-year-old Maisie Watson said.

It's mostly fun, but not always.

"Sometimes I feel like when I see people altogether I'll be like, 'Oh, why wasn't I invited to that? or like in the hallways I'll see them and I'll be like, 'Do they like me? Do they want me to hang out with them?'" Holmes said.

While platforms like Instagram provide a place for users to self express and identify with others, according to the #StatusOfMind survey by the United Kingdoms Royal Society for Public Health, it is also a major jumping off point for fear of missing out, body image issues, anxiety, bullying and even depression.

Related: How much is too much when it comes to young people taking selfies?

Anti-diet health coach Carey Niekrash says that false reality can be incredibly destructive.

"Teenagers today if you have a smart phone, you're able to airbrush and Photoshop your own pictures and kind a live in this filtered world where they're looking down at their phones instead of interacting face-to-face," Niekrash said.

Niekrash is fighting the $60 billion diet industry that often sells unattainable perfection. She's overcome food and exercise disorders to find intuitive eating and now teaches others.

"We can help any of these kids fight back against the diet industry and grow up confident, happy, healthy bodies," Niekrash said.

The first order of business is a social media purge with curating a feed that only promotes body positivity, she said.

"Make it your little safe bubble of only looking at people the same size or larger bodies than you. Not following the celebrities who are promoting disordered eating behaviors. There are 300+ marathon runners out there, teenagers who are trying to break the beauty idea, people with disabled bodies that are doing tremendous things. You can change what you think is beautiful over time by consuming that media."