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Social Media & Body Image

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Social media and stereotypes are a common aspect of everyday life. Social media is a type online platform that enables its users to create and share content with the online community. Often, adolescents view social media as a guideline for what the societal norm and ideal body type should look like. Stereotypes are prejudicial beliefs about a certain group of people. These often associate certain attributes to a specific group of people, such as Asians or Christians, which are often not true to each individual. These social platforms and stereotypes can often have a negative impact on the wellbeing of young people.

Social media provides young people with insight into peoples’ lives around them, and often affect one’s self esteem and mindset. The societal norms and communal expectations created by these social platforms influence the way young people think as it constantly shows them unrealistic expectations on what everyday life should look like. These roles set up by society can force young people to think that if they don’t fit into these predetermined groups then they will be harshly judged and shut out. It can cause them to feel alienated by society. Most social media influencers to only post about the best parts of their life. Influencers, friends and family generally don’t show them doing boring everyday activities. Many young people don’t realise that often their goals of what to look like, how to dress and what daily life should look like is unrealistic. ‘Likes’ creates by social media can make someone feel like the amount of ‘likes’ they have determine their worth. Because of social media, many young people may fall victim to their own prejudice created by the stereotypes promoted through social media. These people may feel that because they fit into a certain stereotype, they should meet those guidelines set by society, and if they don’t fit, this can cause them to feel like an outsider.

Social media is an important aspect of the everyday lives of young people around the globe. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistic in 2014, approximately 72% of people actively use social media with those aged 15-17 years of age spending an average of 18 hours a week online, with 91% most commonly going online for social networking. In 2016–17, people aged 15 to 17 years were the highest proportion of internet users with 98% with 91% most commonly going online for social networking. (‘8146.0 – Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2016-17′, 2020) For young people today, getting ‘likes’ on photos, posts or comments on social platforms can create an immensely powerful sense of success and societal acceptance. However, the relentless pursuit for validation causes harmful thoughts about body image as the endless comparison with other people’s photos online cause young people to feel dissatisfied with their own looks. According to Claire Mysko “While social media is not the cause of low self-esteem, it has all the right elements to contribute to it. Social media creates an environment where disordered thoughts and behaviours really thrive.” She also cautions that, while social media can give young people the feedback and validation they crave, it can also “serve as a catalyst for more insecurity.’ (‘Positive body confidence – how social media can affect body image’, 2020)

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The first strategy that can be implemented in the Redeemer community to reduce the negative effects of social media and self-esteem is to promote a sort of digital detox. An aspect of this strategy that can be implemented is to encourage students to move social apps away from the home screen, into a folder that isn’t always in the line of sight as soon as you unlock you phone. The second strategy is to put your phone on silent and turning off notifications for social media. On the contrary, social media can also have a positive impact on people. A strategy that can be implemented in the Redeemer community to enhance the positive effects of social media is to create an online community space to share fun experiences with friends from school outside school hours or to create a form of online group where people can organise events to hang out outside of school time. Like a group for homegroups, sport teams, music ensembles or year levels. A second strategy that can be put in place to enhance the positive aspects of social media is to create certain accounts that may give good advice for studying or how to structure an assignment. These accounts could be for certain subjects such as mathematics or health and physical education.

The first strategy to reduce the negative effects of social media and self-esteem is to promote a digital detox. The positive thing about this strategy is that it enables people to not get distracted. If these apps are away in a folder, out of sight and out of mind, then it is unlikely that people will fall victim to the negative affects they can bring. A positive for the strategy of turn off notifications for social media is that it allows one to stay focused on the task at hand and to engage in the community. A negative for both these is that one may become too digitally unaware of the news, communal blogs and their friends lives. The first strategy to increase the positive impacts on social media is to create online group chats with the Redeemer community. A positive aspect of this strategy is that allows students from all year levels to communicate. A positive for the second strategy, creating accounts to give advice to students, would be that it enables teachers or even senior students to give good advice to students in younger grades. This can build bonds on different year levels. Students can trust their teachers and go to them for help easily. A negative for these would be that students may be disrespectful to others through these group chats and accounts and could post inaccurate information in order to deceive other students. The best strategy would be to put social media apps in a folder out of sight. By keeping these apps out of sight students use them less often and are therefore less likely to fall victim to the negative effects social media has on self-esteem.

As technology continues to have a huge impact on the lives people all around the world, social media is often one of the leading influences in young people’s lives. In conclusion, social media can be both beneficial and harmful towards the self-esteem of young people. Although social media can bring the relentless pursuit for validation to find into the societal norm to the minds of young people, it can also bring the needed support as well as be a platform for people to speak up about their own experiences with problems many young people find hard to talk about.

Reference List

  1. 8146.0 – Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2016-17. (2020). Retrieved 15 March 2020, from https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8146.0
  2. (2020). Retrieved 15 March 2020, from https://www.dove.com/uk/dove-self-esteem-project/help-for-parents/talking-about-appearance/positive-body-confidence-how-social-media-can-affect-body-image.html

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Social Media & Body Image. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-body-image/
“Social Media & Body Image.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-body-image/
Social Media & Body Image. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-body-image/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Social Media & Body Image [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-body-image/
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