Social media is being blamed for the soaring numbers of teens suffering from eating disorders. It seems the popularity of celebrity culture and numerous social media outlets may be contributing to the increasing numbers of teens with eating disorders.
Eating disorders frequently appear during the teen years, when kids are most impressionable to social pressure to conform and fit in by say physical appearance to what is considered popular.
Studies have found avenues like Facebook can affect a young girls’ sense of body image, for example.
Researchers from the American University in Washington D.C. asked 103 adolescent girls to complete surveys over the course of a week. These questionnaires inquired about their Facebook usage and about their body image.
In the study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the scientists assessed how frequently the girls used specific Facebook photo features, and asking the participants to rate their typical use for each of the features on a 5-point scale: one for “almost never or never” to five for “nearly every time I log on.”
Researchers analyzed the information regarding the girls accessed on the site, in addition to how long they spent on Facebook, and how it had the greatest influence on how they felt about themselves afterward.
TIME reports, the teen girls who allocated the most time to photo-related activities were more likely to internalize a thin ideal, succumb to self-objectification, and were dissatisfied with their weight along with an unhealthy drive to be thin.
An eating disorder is a serious disturbance in everyday diet, either from chronically under eating or compulsively overeating. A person with an eating disorder may initially start out eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more becomes overwhelming and out of control.
An unhealthy preoccupation with body weight or shape may also characterize an eating disorder. Teenagers with eating disorders are consumed with body image, typically making disparagingly negative comparisons of themselves to peers and celebrities. This behavior further disintegrates their self-esteem.
Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. For example, sufferers of binge-eating will typically engage in a binge and purge cycle by means of fasting, abusing laxatives, or inducing vomiting after meals in order to keep their weight down.
Eating disorders are no longer just a female’s disorder as the number of young male teens has also risen. But the numbers are still more prevalent among teen girls.
Social media has become ever-present on our phones, tablets, and laptops – streaming seemingly endless feeds and updates regarding the celebrities and wannabes many see as the standard of beauty.
The pressure to resemble the likeness of what we feel is attractive is palpable as we are bombarded by airbrushed, digitally enhanced imagery every waking minute of the day. Therefore some question the long-term impact of what social media has on the impressionable youth.
In the last three years, the number of teens with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia has doubled. According to exclusive statistics given to The Independent, the number of teens looking for help with an eating disorder has grown to 110 percent within the same time span. The report cites social media as the primary catalyst to the increase.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses that should not be ignored. They frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. Abuse and PTSD are also factors.
[Image: Rega Photography]
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