Is online media damaging to body image?

Senior Ishat Hannan fixes her hair in the school bathroom after school.

For many of us, scrolling through Instagram and Tik Tok is our favorite thing to do during our free time or when we want to avoid homework.
“I always go on Instagram and Tik Tok whenever I have free time,” senior Kushmita Kaur said.
However, the same thing that brings us joy when we’re bored is also very draining to our mental health.
“I’m not really on social media,” senior Alex Troxel said. “But I’ve seen a lot of other people struggle to find peace because of how much they’re on their phones all the time.”
According to The Washington Post, there is a recent investigation on Instagram’s parent company, Meta, for violating consumer protection laws. Meta is being accused of promoting their products to adolescents.
Research so far has suggested that Meta’s social media networks have a negative effect on teen’s mental health.
Social media can specifically be very damaging to our body image.
“You can take a look at movies and T.V. shows where teens look absolutely and ridiculously jacked,” Troxel said. “But in reality they’re played by people who are much older, so a lot of teens expect to look like that, but can’t.”
Even though these social media apps can take such a toll on teens, it is too addicting to take a step away from them.
“I have the habit of being on my phone a lot throughout the day because it keeps me entertained whenever I have nothing else better to do,” senior Sakina Azhar said.
When teens spend hours a day scrolling through endless Instagram posts of people who have an “ideal body,” it can cause them to feel insecure about their own bodies.
“A lot of people are their own worst critics,” Azhar said. “They will harshly put themselves down after seeing someone who they think has a better appearance.”
That negative mindset can be very harmful to a person’s mental health.
One major mental illness that can result is Body Dysmorphia, which will generally cause a person to see themselves in a bad light.
“Yeah I do think it’s [body dysmorphia] increasing among teens, which sucks because it causes them to focus on all their flaws instead of what makes them beautiful,” Kaur said.
Most of the time, teens will wish to look a certain way and as fast as possible, which can be difficult.
“I definitely do think that [social media has impacts on how teens view their body],” Troxel said. “With a lot of influencers being focused on how they look, I feel like a lot of teens have unrealistic expectations of how they should view themselves and their bodies.”
Many teens are so desperate to achieve their ideal body that they will do it at any cost.
These strict standards that teens put on themselves can lead to more serious issues like eating disorders.
“It’s terrible how something as simple as seeing a post on social media can lead to serious health disorders,” Azhar said.
It seems like the impact of social media can be so negative, that it raises the question of if it’s worth your time.
“After some extended sessions when I’m really bored, I kind of don’t feel like I’ve gained anything,” Troxel said.