Article image

Young people are social media savvy, but still pressured by peers

Because young people today are the biggest users of social media of any age group, many are concerned about how social media may be impacting teens.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham set out to investigate what effect social media might have on healthy habits for young people.

While social media can have a positive impact on health, with access to information and fitness apps, the researchers also found some dangers of social media pertaining to peer pressure.

The results show that even though teenagers are often critical of celebrity-endorsed products and the airbrushed perfection of celebrity selfies, following their peers online can lead to negative body image, the feeling peer pressure, and low self-worth.

The study was published in the journal Sport, Education and Society.

The researchers asked 1,296 people ages 13 to 18 from British schools about their online habits with regard to health-related social media.

The team outlined several health categories, including physical activity, diet/nutrition, body image and sleep.

Interestingly, while the study participants proved themselves to be critical of celebrity health endorsements or celebrity selfies, content shared by peers had a much deeper impact.

“’One of the issues we saw in this report were selfies, which, because they are coming from other young people, heighten the level of peer pressure,” said Victoria Goodyear, the study’s lead author. “They might compare themselves to others from school if they have low self-esteem or have had a bad day, although not every child will do so. These images may have been filtered, but they focus on body parts, diet, and exercise, which may create pressure.”

The study shows that due to social media, peer pressure is a problem that spreads beyond the classroom. While the younger generation has developed a critical eye, the accessibility of social media means they are confronted with social pressure even outside of school.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day