Here’s What Facebook Stalking is Doing to Your Body Image

A new study shows that “self-objectification” is the latest issue. 

Photo by Shanna Baker/Getty Images

While media consumption might contribute to negative body image, a new study from Psychology of Women Quarterly suggests that one of the biggest sources of self-objectification comes specifically from a social media site we all know well: Facebook. Young women spend time scrolling through feeds and comparing themselves to their peers, which can be dangerous for their self-esteems.

Researchers from the University of the West of England surveyed 150 college students to understand their media consumption and Internet habits. They found that women averaged two hours per day on Facebook, which was about 40 percent of their daily Internet use, and the data showed that more time spent on Facebook led to more self-objectification. While on Facebook, women weren’t only comparing themselves to peers and friends, but also to their own personal photos—which could be equally dangerous. “Self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts,” the researchers wrote.

This isn’t the first time Facebook use has been linked with mental health consequences. Last April, a study from researchers in the United States and in the United Kingdom also found that women’s time spent on Facebook was often correlated to negative feelings and heightened scrutiny of their own physical appearance. More recently, Facebook has been linked to depressive symptoms. If you can’t seem to log off, researchers suggest simply uploading fewer pictures of yourself to the site, and hiding friends from your timeline when they post photos too frequently.