Social media comparison and body image dissatisfaction among adolescents
Date of Issue2014
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
The popularity of newer social media technologies such as social networking sites (SNSs) have changed the media landscape and people's media consumption patterns. This shift has elicited new questions about familiar associations within the paradigm of mass media effects research. Extant studies on body image have shown the influence of media and peers on people 's body image concerns, especially among the young. While social media has assumed increasing prominence in people's everyday lives, its impact on their body image remains largely undetermined. This study applies social comparison theory to examine the associations between adolescents' engagement in comparison with friends and celebrities on online social media and their body image dissatisfaction, as well as their drive to be thin or muscular. The study also looks at celebrity involvement as a predictor of the outcome variables. The hypotheses in this study were tested using survey data collected from 1,060 adolescents in Singapore. Regression analyses indicate that social comparison with friends on online social media was significantly associated with adolescents' body image dissatisfaction and drive for thinness or muscularity. Gender differences were also observed - social comparison with celebrities was significantly related to body image dissatisfaction and the drive for thinness among female adolescents. Celebrity involvement was a significant predictor of male body image dissatisfaction. Theoretically, the context of this study contributes to the development of a non-Western perspective in existing media effects and body image research. Overall, findings indicate that online social media use is related to adolescents' body image dissatisfaction, and highlight the need for more reflection on gender differences in direction and target group in social comparison. Practical implications for policymakers and educators were discussed.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Mass media::Media effects
Nanyang Technological University