How to build a more positive relationship between social media and our body image is the focus of a new report produced by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland and the University of Strathclyde.
The report #HealthySocialMedia is the result of a conference organised by the Foundation and the University, which saw young people, teachers, social media influencers, charities, and others come together to share personal experiences of using social media and the impact it has had on their body image.
A key aim of the conference was to learn from people’s experiences to produce strategies and possible solutions to help build a more positive relationship between social media use and body image. Participants discussed how they present on and off-line, how this may differ with face-to-face communication and how they feel when on social media. They also identified specific negative and positive digital behaviours and possible healthy social media use strategies.
Dr Petya Eckler, Project Lead at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Social media can be fun, it can be supportive and empowering, it connects us with friends and keeps us informed. But it can also create negative and alienating experiences. And for many young people, it triggers self-doubt, insecurity, and poor body image.
“Our new report recognises this link and uses people’s first-hand experiences to build some key strategies for better social media experiences.”
Strategies proposed included: limiting time on social media and apps, trying to present a more honest picture of your life on social media, and being aware of the types of content that might trigger a negative reaction in you.
The report is accompanied by a worksheet which includes a range of discussion questions which can be used by organisations and individuals to kick-start conversations about social media and its effect on body image, as well as suggestions for moving forward.
A number of videos from speakers at the #HealthySocialMedia event, highlighting a range of experiences and perspectives on the issues of social media and body image, can be viewed here.
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