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The relationship between social media use and body image in young people

There is reason to suggest that the use of social media has a negative impact on body image. Users tend to present idealised versions of themselves on social media, which may then be used by their peers in social comparison, thus mediating body dissatisfaction. The many images on social media sites, such as profile pictures, provide frequent opportunities to make appearance-related comparisons. In this report, we investigate the moderating factors between social media use and negative body image, as well as the nature of the relationship between social media and body image.

We have formulated the following guidelines from the research findings to help individuals use social media more responsibly:

1. Restrict your social media usage

2. Censor your social media content

3. Educate yourself and others about digitally manipulated photos

It is important for future research to further understand the theoretical underpinnings of the complex relationship between social media and body image, and how individuals can avoid the potentially negative impacts of social media use. Additional research and discussion are also needed to investigate how different groups respond to social media.

Editors: Isobel Ashby, Olivia Rowe

Researchers: Ananya Arora, Ines Grange, Rhiannon Osbourne

Women's Health Team, University of Cambridge

Read the report here.


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