Warning of internet danger for teen girls
TEENAGE girls who spend long periods of time using the internet are more likely to suffer low self-esteem, according to research presented at a conference in Bristol.
The NetGirls project found that girls who spent significant amounts of time on social networking sites every day, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace were more likely to have a negative body image.
The research, carried out in Australia was presented at the fifth Appearance Matters international conference in Bristol, hosted by University of the West of England's Centre for Appearance Research.
The NetGirls Project, conducted by Dr Amy Slater and Professor Marika Tiggemann from the School of Psychology at Flinders University, Australia, found that 40.1 per cent of 1,096 girls, aged between 12 and 16 years, who took part in the survey were dissatisfied with their bodies and one in two were terrified of gaining weight. The study also found that the more girls used the internet and social media, the more likely they are to experience body shame, dissatisfaction with their weight, and lower self-esteem.
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Dr Slater said: "We set out to investigate the role of media in adolescent girls' self image. We were interested to find out how adolescent girls were spending their free time and how different activities related to how they felt about themselves and their bodies. Our findings demonstrate a worrying correlation between excessive media use, particularly social media and the internet, and lower self-esteem, body-esteem and sense of identity and higher depression."
Dr Slater also reported the findings of another study that analysed the content of more than 600 adverts found on 14 of the most popular websites targeted at adolescent girls.
People who featured in the advertisements were generally female, young, thin, and attractive.
Dr Slater said: "A content analysis of adverts found on sites that appeal to adolescent girls showed likely exposure to those reinforcing the importance of beauty and thinness."