Creating a positive social media feed
We often hear that scrolling on social media can have a negative impact on young people’s self-esteem and confidence. Research shows that the people and types of content we follow can actually help us feel happier and more confident.
By helping your child to weed out accounts that make them feel bad about themselves and curate a more positive social media feed, you can help them get the most out of their time online. As Instagram body positive advocate Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) says, “your online space should feel like somewhere that you want to go, that inspires you and makes you feel positively about yourself and the world."
How to use social media
So, what’s likely to make your child feel good about themselves when they’re scrolling on social media? Scientists and psychologists have found that certain types of content are particularly good for improving body confidence. This includes:
Inclusive and diverse representations of beauty (body sizes, shapes, skin tones, abilities and appearances)
Memes with uplifting content that remind us to to be kind to ourselves
Body positive influencers who celebrate real, diverse and inclusive beauty (we’ve listed some of our favourites below)
Parody posts or videos that challenge unrealistic beauty standards and stereotypes like the amazing@celestebarber
Less: digital distortion and unrealistic ideals
There are plenty of positive ways to use social media – but studies also show that some content should be avoided to help create a body positive social media space. Seeing certain types of content for just a few minutes can have a negative impact on young people’s self-esteem and body confidence:
Digitally distorted images that promote unrealistic beauty ideals and social media stereotypes
Carefully curated, filtered and edited selfies
‘Fitspiration’ content that promotes the idea that women and girls must aspire to a particular body type to be ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’
Creating a positive social media space
Share these tips with a young person in your life and have the selfie talk to help them create confidence boosting social media feeds:
Follow accounts that celebrate real, diverse and inclusive beauty
Encourage them to follow influencers who celebrate all kinds of beauty. Here are just some of our amazing Dove partners: @tanyacompass @hulisanravele @itsmekellieb @bodiposipanda @scarrednotscared @megboggs.
Do a social media experiment
Spend 5 minutes scrolling through your feeds together. Think about the positive impact of social media as well as the negative. How did it make you feel? Talk about what types of posts made you feel uplifted, strong, and inspired, and what types of posts make you feel worried, annoyed, or bad about yourself.
Promote positive use of social media and encourage them to hide the accounts that made them feel bad, for a week. If it makes them feel good not seeing these posts, encourage them to hit unfollow. Remind your child they have the power to take control of their social media feed and build an uplifting space.
Learn something new
Help them look for new content that interests and inspires them. Can you find tutorials that teach you both something new?
Create feel-good content
Encourage your child to post photos reflecting different aspects of their personality (hobbies and interests) instead of selfies and hyper-posed photos.
Teach them to use social media to connect with people, instead of passively scrolling. Get them to drop their friends a DM telling them what they admire most about them.
- Slater, A., Varsani, N., & Diedrichs P.C. (2017). The impact of fitspiration and self-compassion Instagram images on women's body image, self-compassion, and mood.
- Cohen, R., Fardouly, J., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2019). An experimental investigation of the effects of viewing body positive content on young women’s mood and body image.
- Matheson, E.L., Smith, H.G., Lewis-Smith, H., Diedrichs, P.C. The evaluation of a mini-game in providing immediate reprieve from body image concerns and negative mood among adolescents.
- Slater, A., Cole, N., & Fardouly, J. (2019). The effect of exposure to parodies of thin-ideal images on young women’s body image and mood.
- Diedrichs, P.C., & Lee, C. (2011). Average-size female models promote positive body image and appeal to consumers
- Tiggemann, M., & Zacardo, M. “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women’s body image.
- Robinson, L., Prichard, I., Nikolaidis, A., Drummond, C., Drummond, M., & Tiggemann, M. (2017). Idealised media images: The effect of fitspiration imagery on body satisfaction and exercise behaviour.
- Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P.C., Vartanian, L., &. Halliwell, E. (2015). Social Comparisons on Social Media: The Impact of Facebook on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns and Mood.
- Kleemans, M., Daalmans, S., Carbaat, I., & Anschütz, D. (2018). Picture Perfect: The Direct Effect of Manipulated Instagram Photos on Body Image in Adolescent Girls.
- Huang, Q., Peng, W., & Ahn, S. (2020). When media becomes the mirror: A meta-analysis on media and body image.
- Wang, Y., Fardouly, J., Vartanian, L., & Lei, L. (2019). Selfie-viewing and facial dissatisfaction among Chinese adolescents: A moderated mediation model of general attractiveness internalization and body appreciation.
- Cohen, R., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2018). ‘Selfie’-objectification: The role of selfies in self-objectification and disordered eating in young women.
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