The more young women are exposed to ‘selfies’ and other photographs on the social networking site, the more at risk they are of developing an eating disorder.
As their time browsing the profiles and photographs of classmates increases, they pay more attention to their appearance, a report by British and US experts suggests.
‘While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did predict worse body image among participants,’ explained Dr Petya Eckler, from the University of Strathclyde.
‘As experts in the field know, poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food. More than 850 college students were asked about their body image, Facebook use and routine for eating and exercising. The site could be more damaging to self-esteem than traditional media such as TV and magazines, according to the report.
‘Participants in social media are people we know. These comparisons are more relevant and hit closer to home, yet they may be just as unrealistic,’ she added.
This study, due to be presented at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Seattle, is the first of its kind to link time spent on Facebook to poor body image.