The Importance of Time
Social media is a large umbrella term that encompasses a plethora of useful applications; however, it is important to note how different applications affect users over time. There is a giant difference between texting a peer about a paper for class and looking at impossibly perfect looking bodies on modern day social media applications. The social media giants we know today: online messengers, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and many more apps were designed to be able to keep people socially engaged twenty-four-seven. A seemingly wonderful idea, which ended up creating a plethora of unforeseen issues in regards to mental health by greatly disrupting its users self-worth. Self-worth as a concept in psychology has been rigorously narrowed down to the different facets of a person’s life that make up how they perceive themselves. As time spent in these different aspects increase, they start to accrue a greater proportion of a person’s self-worth. When a stimulus triggers a disproportionate amount of self-worth being allocated to something that negatively impacts a person’s life, they will precipitate various forms of disordered behaviors. These behaviors will perpetuate until the stimulus no longer has an effect on the affected individual. The social applications introduced in our modern society increase media consumption of ideal body types, which could create upward social comparison and poor body image in adolescents. All of these factors have dramatic impacts on self-worth, but according to studies poor body image is a concerningly high precipitation factor. While these social media applications were created with the intention of allowing people to express themselves and engage with others on a twenty-four-seven time basis, this successful retention of adolescents, who could spend multiple hours surfing and interacting with photos, videos, and other media created by companies and friends, ended up starting to take a serious toll on a large amount of adolescents mental health. A great deal of these medias, especially on applications like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, escorted adolescents to spend countless hours looking at photo shopped, ideal images of their bodies, their peer’s bodies, and societally deemed “perfect bodied” individuals. Formally, body image is a person’s prototype of their own body along with the thoughts and perceptions of self that accompany their self-image. An excessive amount of time looking at ideal bodies could lead to an overprescription of self-worth to a person’s body image. Most notably, this overattribution of self-worth can lead to disordered behavior surrounding eating as a means of control over body image. Usually, disordered behavior is precipitated by many environmental and biological factors; however, recent research suggests that there is a significant, positive correlation between time spent on social media and negative body image accompanied by related disordered behaviors.
The visual component of social media has been shown by studies to be one of the most significant predictors of body image concerns. Due to this discrepancies in the definition of social media it is important to break down the applications into two categories: One category being lowly-visual social media (LVSM), which is social media with little photographs that is centered around communication by text. The other category being highly-visual social media (HVSM), which is social media centered around photographs. Most experimenters have focused on HVSM in their studies because it is broadly considered to be more harmful than LVSM. In one particular study, experimenters focused on two popular HVSM applications among adolescents: Snapchat and Instagram. These experimenters used self-reported answers in carefully crafted surveys to gather their data from the adolescents Marengo, Longobardi, Fabris, & Settanni, 2018, p.63-67). The researchers categorized the answers from the surveys into two groups, adolescents that used HVSM for equal to or greater than 2 hours per day, and adolescents who used HVSM for less than 2 hours per day. Then, the researchers employed the Body Shape questionnaire to quantify body image concerns, and Strength and Difficulties questionnaires to assess the internalization of symptoms. The researchers found that the usage of HVSM for greater than 2 hours per day was a significant predictor of possible precipitation of body image concerns. HVSM is also found to be a significant predictor of the precipitation of body image concerns and the internalization of further negative mental health symptoms. However, the most important finding was that moderate HVSM use of less than or equal to 2 hours per day was not associated with body image concerns and could possibly lead to a negative correlation between the internalized body image symptoms and moderate HVSM usage. This finding showcases how important time spent on these applications are by showcasing the stark difference in body image concerns between moderate and frequent users of HVSM. Considering that the researchers found significant evidence that negative body image is precipitated by an increase in social media usage that exceeds 2 hours. Furthermore, a reasonable hypothesis formed at the end of the paper concluded that it’s likely that if the content was less visually focused, or similar to their control group, adolescents could spend a greater amount of time without experiencing the negative consequences that accompany HVSM. In plain terms, adolescents can spend a much larger time per day texting their friends than they can scrolling through HVSMs like Instagram and Snapchat without precipitating negative body image, along with the mental health struggles that accompany it. Another study inspected how fitness pages on Pinterest (a HVSM application), impacted the body image of their women participants (Lewallen, & Behm-Morawitz, 2016, p.1-8). Similarly, they surveyed participants on their usage and symptoms and came to a similar conclusion. They found that utilizing HVSM in a fitness oriented setting in a frequent manner triggered upward social comparison towards an idealized body type, which was positively correlated to self-comparison between themselves and the idealized body. However, an insightful result that came from their conclusions was that the content of the social media consumed matters. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that media, which is centered around more appearance focused topics, had a higher probability of precipitating body image concerns. Ergo, they found that just introducing a similar looking fitness page as an external stimulus triggered behavior that was related to body image concerns. Furthermore, these studies showcase how the highly visual component of certain social media applications can affect its users body image as their usage increases on the app.
Similarly to how the highly visual component of social media affects people, social factors also impact a person’s body image when using social media. In particular, a group of researchers looked at how general modern social media fosters social comparison. These researchers conducted a series of surveys at a school. The surveys quantified the hours spent on social media applications, along with the measures for universal standards for social anxiety, sexual desirability, social media addiction, and a lot more useful information. The data collected demonstrated that as hours of usage increased, behaviors such as social anxiety, social media addiction, and increased self-sharing. These behaviors positively correlated with unrealistic self expectations and worse body image. The results supported the researcher’s hypothesis that social media usage spurs unrealistic self expectations (Boursier, Gioia, & Griffiths, 2020, p.106395). Furthermore, the researchers showcased in their results how time spent on social media precipitated body image issues. These body image issues showed significant correlations to the precipitation of a plethora of other mental health concerns, further showing how significant one piece of a person’s self-worth can be when it comes to the A different set of experimenters considering how social media usage cultivates a more perfect beauty standard. Utilizing cultivation theory, the researchers looked at how social media as a whole redefines a person’s conception of the real. More specifically, the researchers looked at how their prototype of the average looking user disproportionately skewed the user’s perspective and precipitated poorer body image. These experimenters employed a questionnaire to gather information on how Instagram affects user’s social conceptualization. Interestingly, the experimenters concluded that increased Instagram usage leads to harsher criticism of stranger’s bodies. While this finding does not directly link social media usage to worse personal body image. It supports the experimenter’s hypothesis that rates of stimuli presented to a person form the person’s perception of the rates of stimuli in the world. Considering the themes present in the rest of the research findings, it would be fortuitous to attribute the other findings of poorer body image to increased social media usage. This research demonstrates a unique environmental factor that does indirectly contribute to the overall body image of people. Furthermore, the ascue perception of the world the researcher’s uncovered positively correlates to disordered eating behaviors as a means to control personal body image (Stein, Krause, & Ohler, 2019, p.87-95). These cumulative results showcase that social factors can directly and indirectly impact body image.
A slew of research expands on this by looking at how factors external to social media influence its usage and effects on users. One particular group showcased how the COVID-19 pandemic affected social media usage and the cascading body image effects that it invokes. This group of researchers surveyed how COVID-19 impacted social media usage over a plethora of applications in a population of a couple thousand women. The research group collected data on how many hours were spent on social media applications like TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook both before and after lockdown. The research group also utilized surveys to quantify body image, self-esteem, and thinness. These surveys led to finding out lockdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic increased hours of usage of social media applications. This increased social media usage led to positive correlations between social media usage, lower self-esteem, poorer body image, and greater thinness. Moreover, the results support the research groups hypothesis that COVID-19 led women to use social media for such a large extent of time that it led them to likely participate in disordered eating behaviors as a means to control their own body image at larger rates than before the pandemic (Vall-Roque, Andres, & Saldana, (2021), p.110293). Furthermore, the researchers findings were consistent with the correlation between increased social media usage during times of stress and poorer body image, which was also correlated with the precipitation of more disordered behavior. A different set of experimenters conducted similar research, which focused on how external factors to social media generated from a biopsychosocial approach impacted body image. The experimenters surveyed a gender inclusive population’s aptitude for social media use, depression, self-esteem, idealized body imagery for males and females, and disordered eating behaviors for male and females (Rodgers, Slater, Gordon, McLean, Jarman, & Paxton, 2020, p.404-405). The biopsychosocial method that the researchers opted for clearly showed throughout a diverse set of people how social media impacts a user’s body image. Their model clearly illustrated how their conclusions showcased how body image, as a result of social media usage, can precipitate mental health concerns amongst all different kinds of users. Their model also showcased how stimuli related to body image can have a greater effect on users, who spend a significant amount of time on social media. With all this information the experimenters concluded that the external factors such as depression positively correlated with social media usage and self-esteem negatively correlated with social media usage. They also concluded that these factors increased stereotypical body idealization and stereotypical disordered eating behaviors among both sexs. Correspondingly, the research on external factors showcase how an increase in external factors can increase social media usage and thereby lead to poorer body image among social media users. With all these issues being precipitated alongside poor body image, it is clear how important the impacts of social media are to research.
These cumulative findings support the importance of time being spent on social media is a significant predictor of poorer body image. When social media was initially developed as a revolutionary communication technology, the negative effects on users’ mental health were not even known, less considered during the development of the applications. Research shows that modern day social media can lead to poorer body image and cascading disordered behavior. This stresses the importance of mental health considerations when it comes to the future of social media applications. It is well known that modern day social media applications are not extremely safe for all members of society to participate in a healthy way because of their perpetuating ability to precipitate poor body image in a diverse, wide-ranging population of individuals. Furthermore, it is important for body image to be a key consideration when designing the architecture of future applications. How these applications attack a person’s body image could just as easily be a different contributing factor of self-worth in future social media apps. All of these reasons showcase the importance of further research to combat poor body image on social media websites. The vast need for research is best showcased by the overall impact of negative body image on social media users self-worth. Since an overabunt amount of time dedicated to one part of a person’s self-worth is indicative of disordered behavior, it is important for future social media applications to emphasize a reduction in overall usage of the app to a healthy amount of time. While a healthy amount of time may vary from individual to individual, social media applications that do not have negative effects on society’s body image are important for both people’s future mental health and communication with the world. As a result, the current research regarding body image hints that the most effective way of combating mental health issues that precipitate from social media usage is an overall reduction of time spent on applications on a daily basis.
This research demonstrates the need for composable, open source social media applications that take user health into consideration. Today’s social media applications solicit personal information and time from users in order to generate revenue. Instead, they should be competing to provide the best user experience for users to generate social graphs. Generating social graphs is a key feature of the Lens protocol because it allows people the optionality to exit a social media application without losing their connections. Social media applications should look to allow meaningful connections for followers that are meaningful to the user, and they should be designed to discard unused connections that could increase time scrolling on an application, as well as unnecessarily exposing users to stimuluses that could be harmful. The ability to guide connections to have meaning for users is the key component to a healthy social media application. The goal should be to mimic the idea of holiday cards and transport it into an open-source, composable app that guides users to spend less than 2 hours per day on it. Furthermore, I implore the dao to start a guild focused on launching a mentally healthy app on lens protocol.
Boursier, Gioia, F., & Griffiths, M. D. (2020). Do selfie-expectancies and social appearance
anxiety predict adolescents’ problematic social media use? Computers in Human Behavior, 110, 106395.
Lewallen, & Behm-Morawitz, E. (2016). Pinterest or Thinterest?: Social comparison and body
image on social media. Social Media + Society, 2(1), 1-8.
Marengo, Longobardi, C., Fabris, M. ., & Settanni, M. (2018). Highly-visual social media and
internalizing symptoms in adolescence: The mediating role of body image concerns. Computers in Human Behavior, 82, 63–69.
Rodgers, Slater, A., Gordon, C. S., McLean, S. A., Jarman, H. K., & Paxton, S. J. (2020). A
biopsychosocial model of social media use and body image concerns, disordered eating, and muscle-building behaviors among adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(2), 399–409.
Stein, Krause, E., & Ohler, P. (2019). Every (Insta)gram counts? Applying cultivation theory to
explore the effects of Instagram on young users’ body image. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 10(1), 87–97.
Vall-Roque, H., Andres, A., & Saldana, C. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on social network sites use, body image disturbances and self-esteem among adolescent and young women. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 110(1), 110293.