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Selfies and late night Facebook use affect confidence

Research from the UK and US has suggested that spending a prolonged period of time on Facebook looking at pictures of friends could make women insecure about their appearance.

According to a recent study, the more women are exposed to selfies and other photos of friends or contacts on social media, the more negatively they feel about their own bodies as a result.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Ohio University and University of Iowa, surveyed 881 female college students in the US. In order to determine the impact of social media on body image, women were asked to answer questions about their Facebook use, eating and exercise regimes and body image.

Although they found no link between eating disorders and social media, the researchers did find a link between time spent on social networks and negative comparisons about body image.

Their findings suggested that the more time women spent on Facebook, the more they compared their bodies with those belonging to their friends, followers or contacts, and the more they felt negatively about themselves as a result.

Petya Eckler of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, told the BBC: ‘Spending more time on Facebook is not connected to developing a bad relationship with food, but there is a connection to poor body image.’

She added: ‘The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know.’

‘These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media.’

Experts have even suggested that friends’ photos may be more influential on our thoughts and perceptions of ourselves than celebrity shots, as we actually know the people on our social networks and so feel the need to compare ourselves accordingly.

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