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How Can Social Media Cause Eating Disorders

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Social Media And Eating Disorders

Could social media impact eating disorders?

Yes, and no. To put it in perspective, social media causes eating disorders in the same way low temperatures cause colds. Being cold doesnt make you sick, but it does lower your resistance to the viruses trying to get inside of you. Social media is the method by which ideas are transmitted.

With that said, social media has made it possible to spread eating disorder gospel to a larger audience, and that appears to be having some genuinely negative effects.

According to the Huffington Post, as far back as 2012, hospital admissions were spiking for eating disorders like anorexia. The victims were largely young girls, aged 15 and under, which was a disturbing trend since eating disorders are the mental disorders that have the highest mortality rate among sufferers. When researchers tried to find a cause to attribute the increase in eating disorder cases, social media was put under the microscope. What the research found was that social media users experience an increased awareness of their bodies and weight, which can lead to being extremely self-conscious regarding how that body is treated and presented.

While that might sound like an open and shut case, the facts behind eating disorders are a lot more complicated.

Dont Judge Others Posts Or Appearances

Refrain from judging others opinions or appearances on social media. Do not follow or support others who do. If you observe others engaging in body shaming, speak up about it. Chat rooms, groups, or sites that participate in this type of behavior are not healthy for anyone, least of all someone with an eating disorder.

Ways Social Media Can Trigger An Eating Disorder

Mar 13, 2020 | Eating Disorder |

Teenagers spend an astonishing 7 hours and 22 minutes a day using mobile devices, not including time spent online for schoolwork, according to 2019 data from Common Sense Media. In the past four years, that number has nearly doubled. Perhaps more shocking, tweens, defined as children ages 8-12, are right on their heels, with an average of 4 hours and 44 minutes of screen time per day. When listening to music and reading are factored in, these numbers increase to 9 hours and 49 minutes and 5 hours and 54 minutes, respectively. Our children are quite literally spending more time with media than in school, with their families, and in some cases, even sleeping.

Some other eye-opening figures to consider:

  • 69% of children have their own smartphones by age 12, up from 41% in 2015
  • The percentage of teenagers who watch online videos daily increased from 34% in 2015 to 69% in 2019, while for tweens it rose from 24% to 56%
  • More than 70% of teens visit at least one social media platform each day
  • Instagram is strongly favored by teens, with 72% of teens using the app daily. This is a significant increase from 52% in 2015
  • According to 54% of teens, parents would be much more worried about their social media use if they knew what actually happens on it
  • 43% of teenagers feel bad about themselves if a social media post doesnt get enough likes or comments, and the same percentage has deleted a post because of it

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Aocs Tax The Rich Dress Ultimate Fashion Statement Or Display Of Hypocrisy

“So many aspects can contribute to reduced self-esteem and body dissatisfaction, including comparisons with peers, celebrities, and social media influencers, most of who post carefully posed, selected, and filtered photos,” warned Jennifer Henry, LPC, CCATP, director of the counseling center at . “The aspect of using filters and Photoshop to alter images in order to project an ‘idealized’ image.”

This idealized image can also lend itself to online bullying and even body shaming of others.

“Increasing awareness of how we look and specifically, how to obtain the ‘best’ angle, pose, lighting, filter for social media,” added Henry. “It’s not unusual to see really young girls posing for pictures doing the ‘skinny arm’ pose or the ‘duck face,’ instead of just goofing around and having fun. We are missing out on actual experiences by focusing on how to get the best picture of it for our social media pages.”

At the same time it is important to realize that these models, fitness enthusiasts, actors and influencers all have made it their job to look a certain way.

“They likely have nutritionists, cooks, trainers, stylists, and photographers to create what they post online,” suggested Henry. “And even then, those photos are altered with filters and Photoshop.”

The Positive Side Of Social Media

Social Support

Social media can also provide a greater emphasis on health, wellness, and nutrition to counter some of the negative effects.

Other Tips

Anti-Social Media

Understanding The Power Of Social Media

Eating Disorders Infographics

It is important to understand that adolescents are still in a phase of brain development and emotional regulation and often susceptible to peer pressure. Reading of dieting or frequently being exposed to images that may provoke body image concerns can potentially be provoking among adolescents, particularly those who are predisposed to developing an eating disorder.

While it is not possible to filter everything, this is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to understand the power of social media as to have meaningful conversations with loved ones about unsafe practices and self-destructive behaviors.

Social media interactions are often an extension of an adolescents life, so being aware of online use as well as the issues that children today may be facing online is an important part of parenting.

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Begin The Healing Process

Beginning the healing process is essential for individuals struggling with an eating disorder. The only way to defeat the online trolls is to take charge of your online account and not allow people to make you or someone you love feel inferior or unworthy. To help establish mindfulness and self-confidence, seeking treatment for an eating disorder that specializes in whole person care will help you gain the strength needed to battle the body shamers and defeat your disorder.

Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists are highly trained professionals who are equipped to help individuals establish self-soothing techniques, meal plans, and personalized coping mechanisms learned through methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Dialectical Behavior Therapy to best treat any eating disorder. Specialists empathize with each patient and create a personalized recovery plan that fits the needs of every individual. With an emphasis on cultivating self-compassion and feeding the mind, body, and spirit with healthful nutrients, individuals will build the resiliency needed to fully recover from their eating disorder.

Greta Gleissner is the Founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, a nationwide network of eating disorder treatment specialists that provide meal coaching and recovery skills such as CBT, DBT, ACT, MI, etc. EDRS works alongside treatment programs, teams and families to provide transitional aftercare support for post-residential treatment clients.

Social Media And Its Effect On Eating Disorders

LCSW and founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, a nationwide meal support and coaching program.

Social media has effectively made its way into every classroom, dinner table, and workplace. Whether it is used by children, teenagers, or adults, everyone seems to have a huge presence in the social media world. With a wide range of social media platforms used among all age groups including Instagram, , Snapchat, and Twitter, it can be increasingly difficult to escape the pressures and influences of social media.

Social media may have a strong influence on a persons relationship with food and fear of gaining weight. Many individuals in the social media world are chronicling their fit bodies, food choices, and exercise regimes. For individuals struggling with an eating disorder, the constant streams of body and food conscious posts may cause heightened levels of stress and anxiety surrounding the perfect body image.

Understanding how social media can play a huge role in the development and influence of eating disorders can help you or someone you love seek effective treatment.

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Types Of Media Exposure

Todays children and adolescents grow up in a world flooded with the mass media . Staggering statistics reveal that, on average, a child or adolescent watches up to 5 h of television per day and spends an average of 6 to 7 h viewing the various media combined .

These cultural standards may well explain, in part, why many adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and dissatisfied with their body image, and are willing to try a variety of dangerous weight-loss practices in their quest for the perfect body.

The Link Between Social Media And Body Image

Eating Disorders and Social Media

Seeing constant examples of perfect bodies on social media can promote the message that these bodies are normal and most acceptable. These images can make people feel as though their bodies are less acceptable by comparison and have a negative impact on body image.

Social media can encourage competition and comparison that impacts how people view their own bodies. Viewing beautifully edited pictures can make people feel like their lives, bodies or experiences are less valuable compared to others.

This feeling can be isolating or damaging and can contribute to body image concerns and harmful beliefs or behaviors. Social media has contributed to eating disorders and the statistics surrounding these harmful messages are concerning.

For example, research has shown that using Facebook can increase experience related concerns, particularly for people more likely to compare themselves to others. Specific activities like uploading more photos or spending more time on social media are linked with poorer body image.

In some cases, people with existing concerns about their body might use social media to look for positive or negative feedback on appearance. Research has shown that high social media use is linked with greater odds of developing an eating disorder.

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Involvement Of Social Media In Bodydissatisfaction And Eating Disorder Psychopathology

Thenegative image of one’s body, in particular body dissatisfaction, ishighly prevalent among young women . Variousstudies have shown that the use of and exposure to SM generate bodyimage concerns as well the development of EDs . Inthis sense, eating disorders are etiologically related to theinternalization of social pressure resulting from the standards offeminine beauty of modern industrial society or the Western culture. The dissemination of these extended aesthetic modelson SM creates a risk for the development and maintenance of healthproblems, as in the case of EDs . To this is added that the socialcomparison on SM generates body dissatisfaction in users when theyrealize that they cannot achieve the generalized thin ideal.

To the social mediaexposure itself are added the dynamics of interaction through likesand comments received on the shared photographs, issues that must bepresent for our comprehension of ED psychopathologies . Also, visual images of the SM tend to show carefullyselected and retouched photographs. Therefore, it is common for usersof SM like Facebook to believe that other people are happier and moresuccessful than they are . Being critical of SMcontent, having high self-esteem, and a lower tendency to engage insocial comparisons buffers the effect of SM on body satisfaction.

Media And Body Dissatisfaction In Children And Adolescents

Research studies have shown that young people frequently report body dissatisfaction, with adolescent girls experiencing more body dissatisfaction than boys . Adolescent girls generally want to weigh less, while adolescent boys want to be bigger and stronger. A meta-analysis of 25 studies involving female subjects, examined the effect of exposure to media images of the slender body ideal. Body image was significantly more negative after viewing thin media images than after viewing images of either average size models, plus size models or inanimate objects. This effect was found to be stronger in women younger than 19 years of age .

Tiggemann et al studied body concerns in adolescent girls and attempted to understand the underlying motivations for their wish to be thin. The factor exerting the strongest pressure to be thin was the media. Despite the fact that these adolescent girls clearly articulated a desire to be thinner, they also described how this did not necessarily mean they were dissatisfied with their bodies. The authors found that the girls had a surprisingly well-developed understanding of the media and its possible role in influencing self-image. The authors suggested that this understanding may serve to moderate against overwhelming media forces.

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Who Is On Social Media

You may not even realize the impact social media has on our society, the numbers according to Pew Research Center, shows that social media is more influential than we realize:

  • 69% of US adults use Facebook
  • 73% of US adults use YouTube
  • 75% of 18-24 year olds use Instagram
  • 73% of of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat

While we see that majority of Americans use social media, what is even more surprising is how often.

  • 74% of US adults use Facebook daily, with 51% visiting several times a day
  • Roughly 77% of Snapchat users and Instagram users ages 18-24 use the apps several times a da

An Unrealistic Perception Of Body Image

Is Social Media Eliminating Eating Disorders Or Making It ...

The countless photos of celebrities, athletes, and models including Instagram models on social media are what many teen and tween girls aspire to. Of course, social media feeds are a tightly-curated highlight reel, hand-selected photos showing people only at their best, but adolescents often perceive them as reality.

This becomes especially startling when you consider that as much as 8% of Instagram accounts are fake, according to research compiled by Ghost Data. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the fake accounts feature photos of supermodels and celebrities.

Evidence shows that the parts of the brain that govern reasoning and good decision-making skills are not fully formed until the early 20s, so its no wonder that teens are so easily convinced that what they see on social media represents reality. Factor into that young women who already have a negative body image and may also be in treatment for an eating disorder, and you have a recipe for disaster.These teens are constantly seeking approval and ways to feel better about themselves as it is, so this added pressure can easily trigger disordered eating behaviors as they try to achieve an impossible standard.

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What Parents Can Do

Now that weve examined the negative impacts social media use can have on eating disorders and their recovery, lets turn to what can be done to help. One of the most notable discoveries from the Common Sense Media study: While the number of teens and tween who use it is staggering, many reported that they do it because they feel like they have to to keep up with their peers, but it is not their favorite online activity. That honor goes to watching videos.

What that tells us is that our teens truly do need some guidance when it comes to their online consumption, and not just social media. Social media does have a lot of positive applications, so how can parents ensure that adolescents in recovery for eating disorders are using it safely? After all, lets face it: You wont be able to keep your daughter from social media forever. Arming them with the right knowledge and tools so that they use social media as it was intended as a platform to connect with peers is the much wiser choice.

/11 Conspiracies Continue To Live On Via Social Media

“The more pictures we post of our event, activities, new haircuts, and vacations on social media, the more time we spend looking at ourselves through the eyes of other people,” Sylvester explained.

Never before has it been so easy to take pictures of one’s self and share them for the world to see. This constant need to share however comes at a price. People like compliments but are rarely ready for the criticism that invariably comes.

“Most people are a few pounds overweight, have the wrong hair style or the wrong clothes, but like the proverbial fairy tale, mirrors lie and the old clich√© ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ sometimes can amplify flaws and more importantly reveal how others see us,” added Sylvester.

Raw Feed

Unlike celebrities or influencers, who can take the time to “edit” their appearance or are professionally photographed to appear picture perfect every time, the average user relies on selfies from a smartphone and simply hits post. One bad photo can truly be worth more than thousand words, especially if the comments are negative in the least.

“Now that we have filters on every phone and the increasing expectation that you should share every detail of our lives we have developed an unrealistic personal expectation,” suggested Dr. Mariea Snell, assistant director of the Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Maryville University.

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Social Media Kids’ Binge Eating Often Go Together

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 3, 2021 — Could endless hours spent scrolling through social media and watching TV trigger binge eating in preteens?

Apparently so, new research suggests.

“Binge-watching television may lead to binge-eating behaviors because of overconsumption and a loss of control,” he said in a university news release.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 11,000 U.S. children, aged 9 to 10, that included how much time they spent on six different types of media, including television, social media and texting.

There was also information from parents about their children’s binge-eating behaviors.

Each additional hour that children spent on social media was associated with a 62% higher risk of binge-eating disorder one year later, and each extra hour spent watching or streaming television or movies was linked with a 39% higher risk of binge-eating disorder one year later. But the study could not prove that social media use actually caused binge eating.

The percentage of children with binge-eating disorder rose from 0.7% at the start of the study to 1.1% one year later, a rate that’s expected to increase in the late teens and early adulthood, the study authors noted.

People with binge-eating disorder eat large quantities of food in a short period of time. They feel a loss of control during the binge, and shame or guilt afterwards.


The study was published March 1 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

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