Formal Research Paper

Eating Disorders and Social Media

With over 1.23 billion users on Facebook, 1 billion users on YouTube, 243 million active users on Twitter, 150 million on Instagram, 70 million users on Pinterest and 108.9 blogs on Tumblr, our lives have never been more intertwined with digital technology (Smith 1). Though living in a technologically advanced society can be harmful to your health. It may seem fabulous to have all these “cool” gadgets and to have the world at your fingertips, but everything comes with a consequence. Having access to loads of information at once can be overwhelming, causing your mind and body to suffer. Information discovered on the Internet gets one’s mind expanding on all kinds of knowledge; some is truthful and inspirational, while others can be misleading and harmful. One popular topic with billions of searches on the web is body image. The ideal body portrayed through social media has aided in the rise in eating disorders within America. Over the past few decades, eating disorders have become an increasing controversial problem with young women (Charles 1).

There is a major concern over social media being a virus rapidly spreading amongst the world. With social media becoming viral, young women are exposed to media’s ideal body image within their own homes. A latest fad among teen girls of this decade is the thigh gap. The impossible weight loss goal is to become so thin that there is a gap between the thighs even when the feet are together. Apparently, the wider the gap is the sexier is the person (Staff Reporter 1). The availability of seeing pictures of friends being skinny and activities of others can create a competition amongst peers. Internet fads like this one fall under a particular topic know as Thinspiration. Thinspiration is any photographs, prose or other material intended to support and provide inspiration for anorexia nervous or any other eating disorder as a lifestyle choice. This is backed with words of expression from Meagan a 16-year old girl suffering with anorexia; young women are exposed to pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia information at the palm of their hands (WCSH6 Reporter 1). It is nearly impossible to ignore these images and information, since they appear everywhere and social media is that large stepping-stone for eating disorders to reach the mass majority.

As Meagan has stated, “The connection breeds knowing what everyone is up to and the competition,” She says, “I think eating disorders are really based off of the competition. Who can be skinnier? If so and so looks like this, I can too. And I can be better” (WCSH6 Reporter 1). The message Megan is conveying is that with unlimited access to images and the personal lives of others, social media has created an unspoken challenge amongst young women to see who can have the sexiest, best looking body out there. Images and prose intended to inspire weight loss actually inspire an unhealthy competition between all young women. Furthermore, social media has produced a new society where all young women are obsessed with the idea of being skinny. Sites have even been created with full intent of promoting eating disorders; known as “Pro-Mia” (pro-bulimia) and “Pro-Ana” (pro-anorexia) sites.

“Pro-Mia” and “Pro-Ana” websites allow anyone to access and view pictures of others and receive advice on how to maintain an eating disorder. Sites like these create the most harm amongst adolescents because they send the message telling others that is okay to have an eating disorder. Implying to their audience, why struggle to fight it, just embrace it. A research team evaluated these effects by conducting a prototypical pro-anorexia site and testing it out with 235 female undergraduate subjects. The participants were told that they were taking part in a study examining the contents of Internet websites and were asked to fill out a pre-website questionnaire. Each participant was randomly assigned to view one of the three sites offered in the study. One site was a comparison site relative to female fashion and career dressing tips the other was home decor and the last site was obviously the pro-anorexia website for 25 minutes. The constructed website includes everything a real pro-anorexia website would include. Some of the information found on a pro-anorexia website are “Ana creed”, purging tips, ways to make excuses not to eat, a chat board and a “Thinspiration” photo gallery (Unknown 1).

Of the 235 women, 84 viewed the pro-anorexia website, 76 viewed a comparison website focused on the female image, and 75 viewed the neutral home decor website. Afterwards, the participants were asked to complete a second set of post-website questionnaires. The questions included the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, the State Self-Esteem scale, the Appearance-Modified General Self-Efficacy Scale, the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire. Participants who were exposed to the pro-anorexia website had greater negative affect, lower social self-esteem, and lower appearance self-efficacy than women in the other groups. They also perceived themselves as heavier after viewing the site than did viewers of the other websites. On the other hand, those women who viewed the other websites had reported that viewing the website would not affect their likelihood of engaging in the behaviors and cognitions assessed (Unknown 1). Therefore, if a single viewing of the pro-anorexia website caused such a terrible reaction, than multiple viewings would only increase these reactions. Also, there is still a greater negative impact on viewing average-sixes women, furthermore concluding that it is something about how the female image is depicted and discussed on a website that produces the negative effects and not just the focus on the image.

Extended research performed by a team of professionals analyzes the amount of pro-eating disorder content available to the public through social media. To determine which sites were providing pro-eating disorder information, the research team coordinated a systematic content analysis of 180 active websites, observing and recording site logistics, site accessories, or any “thinspiration” material such as images or any text encouraging weight loss. Also analyzing tips and tricks, recover, themes or anything that could be perceived as harm. In result to the team’s experimentation, they were able to determine a statistical conclusion of the results recovered. Some of the determined results are that 91% of these websites were open to the public, 79% included interactive features, 84% provided pro-anorexia content and 64% contained pro-bulimia content. The social media topic of interest, Thinspiration, was displayed on 85% of these pro-eating disorder sites. Even more alarming news is that 83% of the sites provide suggestions on how one should engage in eating disorder behaviors (Borzekowski, Etc. 1). This is a large percentage of sites that motivate these young women to continue engaging with eating disorder and that it is perfectly fine to have these unhealthy eating habits. Therefore, this statistical research should be noted and brought to the attention of these young women to provide added awareness to help decrease the detrimental effects of potential eating disorder problems.

Social media is being blamed by social scientists for the increasing numbers of teens suffering from eating disorders. Numerous social networking sources and the American pop culture in general contribute to this rise. During adolescent years, people are at the greatest risk for developing an eating disorder. This is because at the importance of social pressure and physical appearances are at its highest levels in one’s adolescent years. Recent studies in 2014 have found sites such as Facebook, proved to have an influence on girls’ thoughts on body image. A study at American University in Washington D.C. asked 103 adolescent girls between the ages of 12-18 to complete a series of surveys about Facebook usage and body image throughout the course of a week. The study concluded that adolescent girls who spent more of their time participating in photo-related activities were unsatisfied with their current weight, desiring to use unhealthy ways of achieving the goal of an ideally thin body image (Charles 1). It is not just on how long someone is on Facebook, but it is based on what an individual is doing while they are on Facebook. Furthermore, using photo related Facebook features provide access to an increase in appearance exposure and body image dissatisfaction (Meier & Gray 201).

Research investigators at Florida State University confirmed this discovery when they analyzed 960 college women and discovered that the more time these women spent on Facebook was associated with higher levels of disordered eating. The reason behind this discovery is that women care far too much about receiving likes and comments on status updates and photos. By holding this to a higher standard of greater importance, these women were found most likely to un-tag photos of themselves that were not popularly liked as much or photos they believed that they looked bad in. Also these types of women compared their own photos to their friends’ photos, seeing whose photos were more liked and looks better in their photos. In conclusion, these women have reported the highest levels of disordered eating. Most studies have focused on the tie between social media and eating disorders, but the Florida State study is the first of these studies to conclude that just spending only 20 minutes on Facebook will contribute to the risk of eating disorders (Nauret 1). Facebook constantly reinforces women’s concerns about their body weight and shape, increasing their anxiety as well.

According to professor Keel, more than 95% of the women who participated in the study use Facebook and all described checking their profiles repeatedly, spending at least 20 minutes during each visit furthermore, amounting to spending more than an hour on Facebook each day (Nauert 1). Moreover, Facebook combines the impact of social influences and traditional media on the risks for disordered eating. Users are being constantly exposed to their friends’ images and this thin idealized body image, where a little over a decade ago, magazine covers were the only place to these images were viewed. Therefore, Facebook is a network that provides young minds with unlimited access to negative body image though and an idealized shape. This article provides further proof that social media especially Facebook can put adolescent at a high risk of disordered eating and is therefore tied to the current rise in eating disorders within America.

Social media clearly has numerous influences on adolescents and these influences play a vital role in the rise of eating disorders in the technologically advanced society that we live in. Everything today is done through social media and social networking is where most communication occurs. With this increased interaction online, inspiration for the start of eating disorders is bound to happen. The creation of Facebook has ultimately turned adolescent girls’ lives into chaos. Featured research on a scientific study published by Professors Yael Latzer, Ruth Katz and Zohar Spivak, of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa, examines the effects of two factors on the development of eating disorders in adolescent girls. The two factors include exposure to media and self-empowerment. The Study tested a group of 248 female subjects ranging from ages 12-19, asking each subject to take part in a survey regarding information relating the subject’s internet and television habits. As well as questionnaires examining aspects related to the subject’s general outlook on eating and their sense of personal empowerment, etc. The study furthermore concluded that the chances for the development of a negative body image and various eating disorders increases with the increased amount of time adolescent girls spend in front of Facebook (University of Haifa 1). Facebook and other sites where photos and body image are highlighted can produce negative thoughts in adolescent minds. All adolescents are under an insane amount of pressure to look their best, to appear attractive and follow up on the latest ideals, allowing them to fall under the pressures of social media, culture and their unhealthy ideals.

There are multiple sites available on the Internet that can cause alarm for a higher risk of development of eating disorders. Some sites possess a higher risk than others. These sites are Facebook, Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia sites, as well as any site where photos or images are the sites key focus. Moreover, it is clear that the ideal body portrayed through social media has aided in the rise in eating disorders within America. Though with the expansion of technology, the Internet is not going away anytime soon. Therefore, utilizing all of the extensive research available, the best possible solution to this issue is Awareness. Bringing awareness to young adolescents doesn’t eliminate eating disorders entirely, but it helps take action in the right direct to lower the amount of young people suffering with such eating disorders. Websites like Instagram, which “is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning” (WCSH6 Reporter 1). Nowhere on social media should anyone’s live be put at risk, so Social Scientist need to continue the research and work with social networking sites to provide American with the awareness it needs to help low this eating disorder crisis.

Bibliography

Borzekowski, Dina L. G.; Schenk, Summer; Wilson, Jenny L.; Peebles, Rebecka. “e-Ana

and e-Mia: A Content Analysis of Pro-Eating Disorder Web Sites.” Am J Public Health. 2010 August; 100(8): 1526–1534. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901299/#__ffn_sectitle

 

Charles, Megan. “Social Media to Blame for increase in eating disorders among teens (study).” Business 2 Community. January 27, 2014. Accessed: February 28, 2014 http://www.business2community.com/social-buzz/social-media-blame-increase-eating-disorders-among-teens-study-0757954#!CyqlM

 

Meier, Evelyn P. and Gray, James. “Facebook photo activity associated with body image disturbance in adolescent girls.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. April 2014, 17(4): 199-206. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0305.

 

Nauert, R. (2014). “Facebook Tied to Higher Risk of Eating Disorders.” Psych Central.  Retrieved on April 22, 2014, from   http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/06/facebook-tied-to-higher-risk-of-eating-disorders/66756.html

 

Smith, Craig. “How many people use 415 of the top social media, apps & tools?” Digital Mariketing Ramblings…Thelatest digital marketing stats, tips trends and technology. March 9, 2014 Accessed: February 15, 2014. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/4/#.Uzx37hZZLzZ

 

Staff Reporter. “Social Networking Sites Promoting Eating Disorders.” Nature World News. Oct 05, 2013. Viewed: Feb 19, 2013 http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/4334/20131005/social-networking-sites-promoting-eating-disorders.htm

 

WCSH6 Reporter. “Impact of Social Media on Eating Disorders.” WCSHPortland. A Gannett Company. June 11, 2012. Viewed: February 25, 2012. http://www.wcsh6.com/news/health/article/203458/8/Impact-of-social-media-on-eating-disorders

 

University of Haifa. “Facebook users more prone to developing eating disorders, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2011. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207091754.htm

 

Unknown. “Pondering Pro-Anorexia Websites: What Effects Do They Have?.” Eating Disorders Review for Professionals. Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review. September/October 2007 Volume 18, Number 5. http://eatingdisordersreview.com/nl/nl_edr_18_5_7.html

Final Reflection

Writing in general has never been a strong suit for me. Ever since I could remember, I have always seemed to struggle when it came to reading and writing. As a result, over the years I have worked diligently and tried to the highest degree to improve my writing skills and become a decent writer. Due to my past experiences, I entered into this class with a few negative thoughts and a couple of low expectations for the class. I desired nothing more than to pass this class and earn the credit to cover my course requirement for Syracuse University. After sitting in this class for the entire semester, my mindset has been altered.

For once, I seem to have received a professor for whom I actually like for a number of reasons. Firstly, going to class isn’t a pain, but is rather enjoyable. There is a lot of positive energy in the classroom and discussions are relaxed and open to everyone’s thoughts. Secondly, I understand the course topic and find the topics of class discussion interesting and relatable. The readings have been interesting and worthy of a class discussion, with an exception to a few. Thirdly, class time is used efficiently and based around the topic. Drifting off topic has occurred occasionally, but not like previous classes I’ve taken have. I appreciate that I have felt confident in getting my money’s worth out of taking this class.

For further semester suggestions to improve your teachings, I would recommend to attempt to provide short readings rather than long readings. Not to minimize the work or effort, but I find that shorter readings grab my attention more and I am more inclined to be focused on what the reading is about and what I should get out of it. When the reading start to get lengthy I notice that the attention and focus drifts away from the article near the middle and I find myself skimming to finish due to lost focus. Also, longer reading if someone is not interested in the topic can become busy work, which is not the purpose or intention of the assignment. Another change could be and I have experienced this in other classes, is if we could allow some class time to work on parts of our research papers to either do some research. Even if it is just for one class, it could be helpful to some students and especially since it allows them the chance to ask the professor current questions and get an immediate response. Other than these brief concerns, this class has been a pleasure to be a part of.

As far as research goes, my topic is eating disorders. I chose eating disorders for my research paper because it has impacted the lives of people around me, including one of my sisters in Delta Phi Epsilon. Back in February, our sorority participated in ANAD week, providing the campus with increased awareness of eating disorders and ending with a vigil. Since the topic is so near to my heart, researching and finding tons of information to back up my argument provides me with confidence to prove my argument right. With the technological generation we’re in, social media’s influence on eating disorders needs to be brought to people’s attention. Everything has falling into place and I am glad to utilize my research to provide awareness to adolescent women.

Rhetorical Analysis

Over the course of the semester, all research and data collected has focused on examining the close relationship between social media usage and the rise in eating disorders within America. Through my extensive research, social media has proven to have a major impact on adolescents and eating disorders. Because of the increase in the number of eating disorders something needs to occur to help lower these rising numbers. As discovered through researching, awareness is the key to prevention and the start of treatment for some. Therefore, for my make-it-matter project, I chose to do a series of events throughout Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) week.

            Throughout the week, my sorority and I set up different events for each day of the week. Over the weekend, we got together as sisters and created a bunch of inspiration post-it notes. Each post-it notes contained a positive statement, a quote, a picture or advice. At night the post-it were placed around campus and inside bathrooms for students to see around campus throughout Monday. These notes were utilized to provide students with a small positive comment to brighten up their day and maybe put a smile on people’s faces, letting everyone know how beautiful they are. Throughout the day, I noticed students making positive comments about the post-its and even taking photos with them and posting these photos online. As a result, the post-its and positive motivation were able to spread not only throughout campus but across social media as well. This goes to show, that social media can also be used as a positive tool for awareness of eating disorders.

On day 2,3 &4, we tabled in Schine Student Center, where we brought awareness to all students walking through Schine and those curious about what ANAD week was about. Here we provided the student population with posters, flyers and ANAD cards that were posted and handed out throughout the day. For each of these three days, an activity was also available for students to participate in. Day 2, we had students trash their insecurities. On this day students were told to write something they hated about themselves on an index card. Students were then told to through that card away in the trash. The goal of this event was to lift some weight off their should and let students know that these insecurities shouldn’t let them down, students should love themselves for who they are. On Day 3, students were asked to do the opposite. They had to write something they loved about themselves and them post-it on the walk in Schine. This event reminded student about positive things about themselves and let the feel proud of whom they are. For the final day of tabling, day 4 was no make-up day. On this day all girls in Delta Phi Epsilon and myself walked around campus with no make-up on. At our table inside Schine along with out flyers and cards, we also had make-up wipes. We asked anyone who came up to our table if they were willing to take off their make-up in honor of ANAD week. This event was designed to let student know that they are beautiful even without any make-up; you don’t need make-up to feel pretty.

The ANAD Candlelight Vigil is an inspiring night to commemorate those who have lost their lives and celebrated those who have recovered. The vigil was held on Friday, the last day of ANAD week. It was held in Hendricks Chapel and all were welcome to attend. At the vigil, a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon spoke about her experience and on going battle with Bulimia. Her inspirational story provided the audience with the truth and what it is like to have an eating disorder. It most importantly expressed the real thoughts that go through he mind of someone suffering with Bulimia. The sister expressed deeply how her disorder was not a lifestyle choice,but that she has actual voices inside her head telling her that she must loss weight, she must throw up her food to become skinny. She said in al honesty that she had absolutely no control over her actions. Eating disorders are not something that can just disappear over night but need extensive therapy and support to fight and overcome.

Overall, these three days of tabling went well. Many students across campus became aware of eating disorders that affect those around them and took part in activities that helped benefit themselves as well. Students were engaged and helpful in spreading the awareness without realizing it; whether it was by word of mouth or an Instagram or Facebook post or tweet. Since we were able to reach out to the student body as planned, it was successful week overall. There were a few set back and some minor implications. On day 4, not many people were willing to remove make-up. This issue is solely because no girl wants remove their make-up once they have applied it. Therefore, for future references I hope to improve this day in following years by making it more aware prior to the day. If girls are aware in advanced, they will know not to apply any make-up at all for the day, avoiding the need to have to remove it for awareness.

Also, the prime audience was Female students of Syracuse University. Eating disorders affect both males and females, but the male audience is more difficult to reach out to. Since I am a girl, I do not have access and neither does any girl in my sorority to boy’s bathrooms, therefore we were unable to place post-it notes in there. Males were also less likely to approach our table because of stereotype issue, where many thing eating disorders are only for girls therefore guys don’t want to be judged for going over to the table and asking questions. For the vigil we had support of both males and females, as friends came to support friends.

Lastly, a major implication for this event was the weather. Because ANAD week is in February, it is extremely cold outside. I believe that if the weather was nicer, the event could have been move to the quad and even spread around campus, proving access to a greater amount of the student body. We also would have been able to pass out flyers to people and going up and approaching student, rather than just being forced to sit behind a table hoping for student to walk up to us. Therefore, in the next years to come, I will take these considerations to though and help plan a more organized and strategic week for ANAD awareness.

Facebook Photo Activity Associated With Body Image Disturbance In Adolescent Girls

Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking contains research on a study that examined the relationship between body image and adolescent girls’ activity on Facebook. Research proves that elevated internet exposure is positively correlated with increased body image dissatisfaction among adolescent girls. This correlation especially pertains to Facebook and so the study wanted to specify which specific features that Facebook has to offer correlates to body image issues. Within the study, 103 adolescent girls between the ages of 12-18 years were asked to complete a questionnaire pertaining to their total Facebook use, wight dissatisfaction, appearance comparison, Facebook feature use, etc. This study has been used in news articles i have previous analyzed and will now go into further detail with. Considering this study is popular, the credibility of the research is strong and therefore very useful for my research paper.

Based on the questionnaire, a score was given based on the participants’ use of photo applications and the total Facebook usage, known as the appearance exposure score. Furthermore, there was no significant correlation found between the total Facebook usage and any of the body image variables. Though there was a significant positive correlation between the body image variables and the appearance exposure. This research helps to explain why Facebook is correlated to increased numbers in eating disorders. It is not just on how long someone is on Facebook, but it is based on what an individual is doing while they are on Facebook. Therefore, I can use this research to explain to my audience that using photo related Facebook features provides access to an increased appearance exposure and body image dissatisfaction.

Meier, Evelyn P. and Gray, James. “Facebook photo activity associated with body image disturbance in adolescent girls.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. April 2014, 17(4): 199-206. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0305.

Status Update: Maladaptive Facebook Usage Predicts Increases In Body Dissatisfaction And Bulimic Symptoms

The study expressed in this journal article examined the effects of online social evaluations and comparisons on body dissatisfaction and bulimic  symptoms. Over about a 4 week period, 232 college women used by researchers to look at the effects of maladaptive Facebook usage on body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms. The participants were asked to take part in a two-part study. These women were asked to fill out questionnaires at two separate times: Time 1 and Time 2. The occasion between the first questionnaire and the second was separated by 2-4 weeks. According to the results, it was found that maladaptive Facebook usage showed significant predictions of increased bulimic symptoms and episodes of over-eating about 4 weeks later. The relationship between maladaptive Facebook usage and disordered eating was found to be caused by body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, by reducing maladaptive Facebook usage, it may help t reducing body dissatisfactions and disordered eating.

This journal article will be helpful in providing scientific research to back up my argument. It provides a study on maladaptive Facebook usage and its significant correlation to bulimic symptoms. Facebook is one of the major social media websites that my paper focuses on. Therefore, this journal enhances the argument I am trying to make towards my audience.

Hames, Joiner Jr. and SMith. “Status Update: MAladaptive Facebook usage predicts increases in body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms.” Journal of Affective Disorders. Volume 149, Issues 1-3, July 2013, Pages 235-240. Accessed May 1. http://nq5hl7cp9d.search.serialssolutions.com.libezproxy2.syr.edu//?sid=Elsevier:Scopus&genre=article&issn=01650327&volume=149&issue=1-3&spage=235&epage=240&pages=235-240&artnum=&date=2013&title=Journal+of+Affective+Disorders&atitle=Status+Update%3a+Maladaptive+Facebook+usage+predicts+increases+in+body+dissatisfaction+and+bulimic+symptoms&aufirst=A.R.&auinit=A.R.&auinit1=A&aulast=Smith&id=doi:10.1016%2fj.jad.2013.01.032

Fight Eating Disorders With Facebook

Florida State University researchers examined whether social media usage is linked to eating disorders. The first study examined 960 college women who answered a self-reported eating disorder screening assessment. As a result, there was a small but still significant positive correlation found between eating disorders and the duration of Facebook usage by these women. The second study examined 84 women from the first study and divided them into two groups. Group 1 was told to use Facebook as they typically would for 20 minutes. While, group 2 was asked to research the ocelot, a rainforest cat, on Wikipedia and YouTube. This second study concluded that the first group had reported greater body dissatisfaction than the second group. Furthermore, showing that there is some connection between Facebook use and eating disorders.

According to these studies, social media platforms should not be held responsible for causing eating disorders. Many illnesses have a complex of biological, psychological and cultural roots, so placing blame on social media websites wouldn’t be fair. More research on this topic should be done to have a more complete evaluation of this situation. Social media can also be used as a positive tool for early intervention and recovery. This is an aspect that is overlooked a lot with eating disorders but, it is important to understand how helpful they could be or if these sites are at all.

The article also provides the writer’s personal experience that she witnessed on a daily basis at work. She describes websites like Facebook, as being toxic. These websites allow access to images or messages that can trigger disordered eating. When she had suffered from her own personal eating disorder problems, she focused on the thigh gap issue that I have touched upon in a previous blog entry, as well as “Thinspiration.” Thinspiraitons seems to be a popular word in the eating disorder world. According to her, social media doesn’t cause these negative thoughts, it just amplifies them. Therefore, social scientists and websites need to focus their work on finding efficient ways to effectively promote media literacy, self-acceptance, support, recovery and body image activism. Social media can be used in a positive way, but scientists need to bring people the courage to fight urges and negative thoughts to focus searches on positive body images and thoughts within the social sites.

Mysko, Claire. CNN. “Fight Eating Disorders With Facebook.” March 7, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/07/living/eating-disorders-social-media-parents/

FACEBOOK TIED TO HIGHER RISK OF EATING DISORDERS

According to this article, new research proves that high Facebook usage is linked to an increased risk of eating disorders. Research investigators at Florida State University analyzed 960 college women and discovered that the more time these women spent on Facebook was associated with higher levels of disordered eating. The reason behind this discovery is that women care far too much about receiving likes and comments on status updates and photos.By holding this to a higher standard of greater importance, these women were found mostly likely to untag photos of themselves that were not popularly liked as much or photos they believed that they looked bad in. Also these type of women compared their own photos to their friends’ photos, seeing whose photos were more liked and  looks better in their photos. In conclusion, these women have reported the highest levels of disordered eating. Most studies have focused on the tie between social media and eating disorders, but the Florida State study is the first of these studies to conclude that just spending only 20 minutes on Facebook will contribute to the risk of eating disorders. Facebook constantly reinforces women’s concerns about their body weight and shape, increasing their anxiety as well. According to professor Keel, more than 95% of the women who participated in the study use Facebook and all described checking their profiles repeatedly, spending at least 20 minutes during each visit furthermore, amounting  to spending more than an hour on Facebook each day. Facebook combines the impact of social influences and traditional media on the risks for disordered eating. Users are being constantly exposed to their friends’ images anad this thin idealized body image, where a little over a decade ago, magazine covers were the only place to these images were viewed. Therefore, Facebook is a network that provides young minds with unlimited access to negative body image though and an idealized shape. This article provide further proof that social media especially Facebook can put adolescent at a high risk of disordered eating and is therefore tied to the current rise in eating disorders within America. As previously mentions in prior blog posts about Facebook’s impact , this article has provided a study that show not just that Facebook is tied to eating disorders but also provides why and how it is linked.

Nauert, R. (2014). Facebook Tied to Higher Risk of Eating Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/06/facebook-tied-to-higher-risk-of-eating-disorders/66756.html

Pondering Pro-Anorexia Websites: What Effects Do They Have?

Pro-Anorexia websites promote anorexia as a lifestyle choice, encouraging women to be extremely thin. In one study done on the effects of viewing these sites, It was determined that site exposure has negative affective and cognitive consequences for women. A research team evaluated these effects by conducting a prototypical pro-anorexia site and testing it out with 235 female undergraduate subjects. The participants were told that they were taking part in a study examining contents of internet websites and were asked to fill out a pre-website questionnaire. Each were randomly assigned to view one of the three sites offered in the study. One site was a comparison site relative to female fashion and career dressing tips the other was home decor and the last site was obviously the pro-anorexia website for 25 minutes. The constructed website includes everything a real pro-anorecia website would include. Some of the information found on a pro-anorecia website are “Ana creed”, purging tips, ways to make excuses not to eat, a chat board and a “thinspiration” photo gallery. Of the 235 women, 84 viewed the pro-anorexia website, 76 viewed a comparison website focused on the female image, and 75 viewed the neutral home decor website. Afterwards, the participants were asked to complete a second set of post-website questionnaires. The questions included the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, the State Self-Esteem scale, the Appearance-Modified General Self-Efficacy Scale, the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire. Participants who were exposed to the pro-anorexia website had greater negative affect, lower social self-esteem, and lower appearance self-efficacy than women in the other groups. They also perceived themselves as heavier after viewing the site than did viewers of the other websites. On the other hand, those women who viewed the other websites had reported that viewing the website would not affect their likelihood of engaging in the behaviors and cognitions assessed. Therefore, if a single viewing of the pro-anorexia website caused such a terrible reaction, than multiple viewings would only increase these reactions. Also, there is still a greater negative impact on viewing average-sixes women, furthermore concluding that it is something about how the female image is depicted and discussed on a website that produces the negative effects and not just the focus on the image. This article can be utilized in my research paper to back up my argument and mentioning of pro-anorexia websites, paralleling to a previously posted blog on the subject. It provides a proven scientific study to display to the audience, the harm in these websites.

Unknown. Eating Disorders Review for Professionals. “Pondering Pro-Anorexia Websites: What Effects Do They Have?.” Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review. September/October 2007 Volume 18, Number 5. http://eatingdisordersreview.com/nl/nl_edr_18_5_7.html

The Presentation Of Pro-Anorexia In Online Group Interactions

The focus of this study was to analyze the presentation of pro-anorexia via an interpretive phenomenological analysis of postings to a pro-anorexia (pro-ana) online discussion forum. Upon research, it was discovered that the audience/participants were people who were less likely to reveal that they suffer from an eating disorder to people in the real world, such as friends and family. Because identity is a secret online, participants’ thoughts and behaviors on these websites were strengthened through a group of strangers.

The study used an un-obstructive, passive observational approach to 3 days of postings to a popular pro-anorexia online discussion forum. Due tot the nature of the research, the characteristics of the participants are largely unknown. Though it was clear that it included individuals from different nationalities and age groups. The researchers searched the term pro-anorexia forum into both Yahoo and Google, yielding multiple links to websites, news articles, online journals and forums all dealing with pro-anorexia. Five open forums that are open to public discussion groups without the requirement of a username or password to gain access were selected to be studied. Researchers monitored the five forums over a two week time period, seeing which sites were most active. The most active forum was the forum chosen for the final data collection. Data was collected during a 7 day period between the Christmas holiday; from December 20-26, 2004.

In conclusion, the researchers found that the women were supporting each other on increased weight loss goals, paying attention to the physiological changes and bodily responses that come with this weight loss. Worrying changes such as hair loss were seen as positive signs by other group members, therefore normalizing body changes that should be alarming issues. It was also discovered that there were two overall themes found on the forum, One concerns maintaining a sense of the pro-ana self as abnormal. The other is keeping the anorexia and eating disordered identity hidden from family and friends.

The information found within this journal article can be useful to my research and the argument of my paper. It includes a study that examines a pro-ana website, a type of site that I have previously mentioned earlier on. This study also provides an analysis of what exactly is going on within a pro-ana forum and also includes sample texts from the forum. It was determined that the goal is to be abnormal and continue to lose weight, while supporting each other through the process, but also keeping anorexia a secret from those in reality.

Gavin, Jeff, Karen Rodham, and Helen Poyer. “The Presentation of “Pro-Anorexia” in Online Group Interactions.” SAGE Internet Research Methods. Ed. Jason Hughes. Vol. 18 London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2012. v4-363-76. SAGE Research Methods. Web. 6 May 2014.

Factors That May Contribute to Eating Disorders

Before singling out and focusing on how social media impacts on eating disorders, we first need to look at all the possible contributing factors. NEDA or the National Eating Disorders Association provides information on their website for everything one may need to know about eating disorders. One of their many links is factors that may contribute to eating disorders. According to NEDA, eating disorders are quite complex and therefore there is no one factor that causes an eating disorder.

These eating conditions arise from a combination of behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors. Eating disorders first appear to be just about food and weight obsessions, but those suffering from eating disorders many times are trying to use food and the control on food as a coping mechanism for their emotions and feelings. Dieting, bingeing and purging are a few of the coping mechanisms people start out with to cope with overwhelming and painful emotions. This allows the person to feel in control of his or her life. In the end, these negative behaviors with food will result in damage to one’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem and sense of competence and control.

This website goes on to list a few examples of some of the factors previously mentioned above that contribute to eating disorders. Some psychological factors include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, and depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness. Examples of interpersonal factors are troubled personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotions and feelings, history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight and history of physical or sexual abuse. Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body,” narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes, cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths, and stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice are some social factors. Lastly the biological factors include significant genetic contributions because eating disorders often run in families. Also, in some individuals with eating disorders, certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be unbalanced.

NEDA Staff. ” Factors That May Contribute to Eating Disorders.” NEDA Feeling Hope. 2001. http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/factors-may-contribute-eating-disorders