Facebook Causes Eating Disorders?


Multiple groups have done studies on Facebook and they have determined this networking site causes eating disorders. Now this is surely a study that has Mark Zuckerberg and his 1.11 billion users scratching their heads. How does a place for friends become so dangerous?

According to those conducting the studies, it is what the users look at, and how it makes them feel. Certain types of material trigger specific reactions that lead to dangerous behavior. This behavior is most often found in women and young girls. It is a commonly observed phenomenon with females, particularly young ones, that they often become insecure with their body. However, that is not to say all females dislike their bodies, they are just more susceptible to superficial influences.

The diligent studies of Detroit Free Press, and professors at Haifa University revealed girls from ages (12 -14), and college age girls develop eating disorders from images on Facebook. However, they are not directly blaming Facebook for causing eating disorders.

The point that is trying to be made by both parties is that some of the images are detrimental to fragile impressionable minds. For example, when Detroit Free Press conducted their studies they obtained the necessary proof to back their claims. When these girls viewed certain images they found most of the girls began to act out in a self-absorbed nature to feed their starving egos. It is already known the most college girls vie for male attention, because that is natural. The difference is they are seeking attention for validation. The results are the same for younger girls although there are subtle variances.

The Detroit Free Press: They solicited the time of 960 college girls and had them use Facebook like they usually would. The average female users stayed on the site between 20 minutes to an hour. These subjects would browse pages with significantly attractive women, and have a negative reaction to the images. The longer they viewed the more they felt less of themselves. As a result of these images they would post a picture to get as many likes and comments as possible. The overall take away from this particular group was women they feel inferior to negatively affect them. Therefore, it has been leading them to unhealthy eating practices. However, after that analysis the conclusion was clear. There are many other elements that contribute to body image issues.

The Haifa University Professors: This study was done on 248 adolescent girls between the ages of (12 – 14).  The intention of this research was to identify the effects social media has on eating disorders and the exposure to the media and self-empowerment. The results were the same with subtle variances like previously stated.

These studies point toward social media, but indicate that Facebook is not single-handedly causing eating disorders in its readers. Some of the other contributing influences most often identified are as follows:

–       An absentee father is one of the main factors identified in most studies.

–       Poor parenting, no rules or guidance. Children need structure and discipline.

–       Bullying at school or online. Theis behavior diminishes the child’s self worth.

–       Comparisons to people who are perceived to be perfect.

–       Believing there is a such thing as a perfection

–       Striving to achieve that un-reachable perfect ideal.

–       Lack of self-esteem

Identifying these and other underlying issues surrounding this growing epidemic would appear to be the best way to eradicate this issue. Although, there may be many factors, the most settled-upon answer is love. By using Facebook and these other media platforms to uplift and encourage, a suggested contributor to the problem could potentially help reverse it.

Commentary by Schelett Rickenbacker

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