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Does Facebook Make Women Feel Bad About Their Bodies?

More time on the social networking site tied to greater likelihood of negative self-image

FRIDAY, April 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Too much time on Facebook may take a toll on a young woman's sense of self-esteem, particularly how she feels about her body, a new study suggests. The research is to be presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, held from May 22 to 26 in Seattle.

The researchers surveyed 881 female college students who were asked questions about their Facebook use within the past month, including how often they visited the site, how long they typically spent there, and what their favorite activities were. The women were also asked about their eating habits and body image, as well as their current weight, ideal weight, and class rank.

Most spent about 80 minutes on Facebook every day. The most popular activities were reading the news feed and looking at photos, according to the study. Spending more time on Facebook was linked to a significantly greater likelihood that a woman would feel bad about her own body. It also was tied to greater odds that she would compare herself to others. However, while the study found an association between Facebook use and poor body image, it was not designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"Women tend to present their ideal self on Facebook, not necessarily their actual, true self," study author Petya Eckler, a lecturer in journalism at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, U.K., told HealthDay.

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