Body image struggles are not a new problem for teen girls. Eating disorders are a subject covered in most high school health classes and many women can remember a time in their teen lives where they stood in front of a mirror, critiquing one body part or another. We compared ourselves to the faces and bodies we saw in magazines or movies. And while our exposure to how women are portrayed in the media was prevalent, it is nothing compared to the overwhelming and constant barrage of images teen girls face today through social media.
How Does Social Media Affect Body Image?
Parents know that teen girls can spend hours of their day on social media. Social media can be great at connecting people, but sometimes that connection can have negative effects. Continuous scrolling through pictures of perfectly photoshopped people in beautiful locations, or ads for the newest way to get fit and lose weight can have an incredible negative effect on a teen girl’s mental health and body image. There are filters that hide all their “flaws”, or mirror angles that “best” show their shape. It becomes difficult to see all of those images and not start to compare themselves to what they see on the screen.
A 2019 study showed that even 30 minutes a day increased teens’ feelings of anxiety, depression, poor self-image, and loneliness. Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. Another study reported that “a clear pattern of association was found between [social media] usage and [disordered eating] cognitions and behaviors with this exploratory study confirming that these relationships occur at younger‐age than previously investigated.”, which is a concerning finding for parents of tweens and teens.
Steps Towards Positive Body Image
So how can you help your teen daughter who may be struggling with body image issues? The first step may be talking to your daughter and understanding her concerns and how she feels about her own body image. What kind of content does she find triggering or upsetting? Then, you can talk about putting limits on the kind of social media your daughter is being exposed to. If she knows celebrity accounts cause her anxiety, or make her start comparing, encourage her to block or unfollow those accounts. Does she notice that interacting with some online friends brings on negative feelings? Explore what it would be like to avoid those interactions. Discuss with your daughter what makes her feel good and what makes her feel bad when she uses social media.
Next, you can set some limits around how much time she is spending on social media. We know that studies show an increase of negative mental health effects with longer amounts of time on social media, so limiting that time can help your daughter get out of her negative headspace.
Once you have established some ground rules about the amount of time she’s spending on social media, you can fill that time with activities that your daughter enjoys. Even better, with activities that help her appreciate what her body can do. The feeling of her strong legs during soccer, or her powerful lungs when she sings. Create opportunities for her to celebrate everything her body does for her daily.
Solstice RTC Can Help
Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for adolescent girls that emphasizes the mind-body connection in our unique approach to holistic healthcare. Decades of experience in successfully helping teenagers has allowed us to develop consistently effective treatment philosophies and approaches to healing emotional and behavioral struggles in teens and their families. With the constantly evolving combination of needs in adolescents, these philosophies and program components allow us to effectively address individual adolescent struggles and inspire change that heals students, their families, and produces lasting results. For more information please call (801) 406-7450.