Researchers at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal have found a correlation in adolescents between time spent on social media and restrictive eating behaviors or eating disorders.
The results were published in the journal Psychology & Health and followed 3,801 high school students over five years.
“Social media makes you feel less good about yourself and promotes desire to be thinner, worries about your weight, and potentially engaging in restrictive behaviors,” said lead author Patricia Conrod.
His previous work researching a link between social media and depression was used in a 2021 congressional hearing where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the link.
Conrod said it can fuel a downward spiral where looking at an app can generate negative emotions, but instead of turning away, it can lead to longer scrolling times.
“The worse you are in the mood, the more you will turn to social media, and the more social media will impact your mood in a negative spiral,” she said.
Her work is faithful to Clara Chemtov, former Miss Teenage Quebec and ardent advocate for eating disorders.
“Social media has definitely had a negative impact,” she said. “Just because apps like Instagram are working doesn’t mean they’ll always show you more content they think you like. It meant my feed was always flooded with professional dancers and models who had completely different bodies. of mine.”
Chemtov was diagnosed with anorexia at 17 and is currently recovering.
“Sometimes you just can’t help it,” she said. “Even though you know cognitively that your life doesn’t have to look like theirs to be worth it. When you see it every day, all the time, it has an impact. You start to question yourself. “
Here is a list of resources and hotlines dedicated to supporting people:
The National Eating Disorders Clearinghouse provides resources and referrals to support those directly or indirectly affected by eating disorders.
Toll Free: 1-866-633-4220
Kids Help Phone offers free, anonymous and confidential professional telephone counseling and online counseling, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for children and youth 20 years of age and under.
The Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline is available for those who are or know someone who is in immediate crisis or has concerns related to suicide.
1-866-277-3553 in Quebec (24/7)
Text 45645 (4 p.m. – midnight ET). Text messaging charges apply. French text support is currently unavailable.