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How Social Media Affects Body Image
so·cial me·di·a (noun) – websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
It’s something everyone, everyday concedes to. Social media has become societies norm for the majority of humans on this planet. Originally created to bring people together, inform the public of events, and share content between friends and family. Social media has become its own entity.
Social media platforms are popping up everywhere. According to SocialMediaToday.com, the average person spends 135 minutes on a platform every single day. What’s crazy is that it’s been only 20 years since the first social website was created. It was 1844 when a Washington man named Samuel Morse began the first signs of social media creation when he composed a telegraph in Washington, DC and sent it to Baltimore. The message read, “What Have God Wrought?”
The history of what we know as social media sites first began in 1997. From 97 to 2001 a platform called Six Degrees had a peak of about 1 million members. This channel allowed members to create profiles, add each other as friends, and communicate. From this initial software, the world-wind of social media began. The early 2000’s brought us platforms like Friendster, MSN Messenger, Myspace, Facebook, and Gmail – just to name a few.
According to PracticalEcommerce.com, as of September 2017, there are 105 leading social networks worldwide. If you put that into perspective, that is billions of people logging on to a social platform every single day.
For younger people today, social status seems to be their everything. The youth of today live for the number of likes they get on an Instagram photo or how high their Snapchat streak is. Even our major news outlets consistently report on how many followers someone like Kim Kardashian has. Celebrities and influencers are always trying to “break the internet” with provocative photos or posts. But what needs to be focused on more is how this new age of digital communication affects the lives of not only young people but all people.
The pressure to have the perfect body or face follows you everywhere. More specifically, targeted Google and Facebook/Instagram ads are following us everywhere. Let’s say a young girl visits a website that sells beauty products and all over the website are pictures of “perfect” women and models. If she decides not to purchase an item and leaves the website, this is where the social marketing kicks in. Ads will start to re-market to her. She will begin seeing the ads and imagery for that site or product everywhere on social media.
The psych behind social media
If we take a step back and look at this process from a psychological standpoint, the process is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (pronounced badder mainhoff), or otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon concept means, that if you see something or hear people talking about it over and over, eventually you want it. You will also start noticing it more and become more aware of the product.
Now back to the re-marketing. It is the job of the marketing team for the company to deliver the ad to you as much as possible until you finally take the plunge and purchase it. If a young person is seeing these images constantly, their brain will eventually tell them that is perfection. This is how you need to look. As you can see, this could have a significant impact on someone’s mental health.
The media has a well-known history of playing a role in the development of body image issues. Research studies from the 1980s and 1990s have proven that the plummeting weight of models, actresses, and beauty pageant contestants between the 1950s and 1990s contributed to the unrealistic body image we know of today. Even though today in 2018 we have improved somewhat, with educating our population about body image and the media, it’s still a significant problem.
Social media today has so much power. It can be severely dangerous for young malleable minds. Especially those with low self-esteem and body image issues. It will only continue to get worse if we do not educate our children from a young age.
The pressure to be perfect should not exist. Explain to your children that they can be anything they want. Encourage them on the path to changing the world for the better. Monitor how much time your child spends on the internet. In the latest software update for Apple devices, they created a feature called, “Screen Time.” This tool helps consumers better understand how long they spend on their devices. It also allows users to set timers for the amount of time. Apple is currently paving the way for tech and health for our population.
Social media was created to bring people together. Not tear them apart. We want it to be a safe place for every single human on this earth.