Social media is causing young boys and girls to develop eating disorders, a study has claimed.
A new piece of research published today found that ‘platforms with a strong focus on image posting and viewing’ have a particularly strong effect on teenagers.
In the study, researchers from Flinders University in Australi examined data on 996 teenagers aged between 12 and 14 years old.
They found ‘behaviours related to disordered eating’ by 51.7% of girls and 45.0% of boys, with strict exercise and meal skipping the most common.
A total of 75.4% of girls and 69.9% of boys had at least one social media account, and Instagram was the most popular.
Kids who had a greater number of social media accounts and spent more time using them each day were more likely to suffer eating disorders.
The academics did not place the blame on specific networks like Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat.
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‘While a range of studies have focused on the impact of social media on body image, this is the first to examine the relationship between specific social media platforms and disordered eating behaviours and thoughts,’ said lead author Simon Wilksch, PhD,
‘Further, most other studies have also focused on older adolescents or young-adult women.
‘Thus, to find these clear associations between disordered eating and social media use in young adolescent girls and boys suggests that much more needs to be done to increase resilience in young people to become less adversely impacted by social media pressures.’
The study is published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.