Concurrent and Prospective Analyses of Peer, Television and Social Media Influences on Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorder Symptoms and Life Satisfaction in Adolescent Girls

Abstract

The degree to which media contributes to body dissatisfaction, life satisfaction and eating disorder symptoms in teenage girls continues to be debated. The current study examines television, social media and peer competition influences on body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms and life satisfaction in a sample of 237 mostly Hispanic girls. 101 of these girls were reassessed in a later 6-month follow-up. Neither television exposure to thin ideal media nor social media predicted negative outcomes either concurrently nor prospectively with the exception of a small concurrent correlation between social media use and life satisfaction. Social media use was found to contribute to later peer competition in prospective analysis, however, suggesting potential indirect but not direct effects on body related outcomes. Peer competition proved to be a moderate strong predictor of negative outcomes both concurrently and prospectively. It is concluded that the negative influences of social comparison are focused on peers rather than television or social media exposure.

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Notes

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    Since the current study relates to adolescent girls, the term “girls” will be used henceforth in this manuscript, unless referring to the sample of a specific study. It is worth noting that, despite much of the general public’s focus on impacts for girls, the majority of research in this field is conducted with adult college women.

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Acknowledgments

This project was made possible by an internal TAMIU University Research Grant provided through generous funding as part of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust.

Author contributions

Christopher J. Ferguson conceptualized the study and study design, analyzed the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Monica E. Munoz conceptualized the study and study design, and assisted in writing and editing the submitted draft of the manuscript. Adolfo Garza collected the data and conducted participant interviews and assisted in writing and editing the submitted draft of the manuscript. Mariza Galindo collected the data and conducted participant interviews and assisted in writing and editing the submitted draft of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

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Ferguson, C.J., Muñoz, M.E., Garza, A. et al. Concurrent and Prospective Analyses of Peer, Television and Social Media Influences on Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorder Symptoms and Life Satisfaction in Adolescent Girls. J Youth Adolescence 43, 1–14 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9898-9

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Keywords

  • Mass media
  • Television
  • Social media
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Eating disorders