Protect me from my selfie

examining the association between photo-based social media behaviors and self-reported eating disorders in adolescence

Alexandra R. Lonergan*, Kay Bussey, Jasmine Fardouly, Scott Griffiths, Stuart B. Murray, Phillipa Hay, Jonathan Mond, Nora Trompeter, Deborah Mitchison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: This study examined whether social media behaviors were associated with higher odds of meeting criteria for an eating disorder and whether gender moderated these relationships. Method: Australian adolescents (N = 4,209; 53.15% girls) completed the self-report photo investment and manipulation scales. Additional self-report items assessed avoidance of posting selfies and investment in others' selfies. Eating disorders were identified by the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire and other self-report measures aligned with diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders-5 criteria. Results: A multinomial logistic regression examining the effect of avoidance of posting selfies, photo investment, photo manipulation, and investment in others' selfies on the likelihood of meeting criteria for an eating disorder, compared to no disorder, was significant (χ2[42] = 1,128.93, p <.001). Greater avoidance was associated with higher odds of meeting criteria for all disorders except clinical/subclinical binge-eating disorder and purging disorder. Increased photo investment was related to greater odds of meeting criteria for all disorders. A similar relationship emerged for photo manipulation, with the exception of clinical/subclinical binge-eating disorder, and unspecified feeding and eating disorder. Investment in others' selfies was associated with higher odds of meeting criteria for all disorders except clinical/subclinical anorexia nervosa and purging disorder. There was a significant interaction between gender and avoidance (χ2[1] = 5.23, p =.025, OR = 1.74), whereby boys were more likely to meet criteria for clinical/subclinical anorexia nervosa in the context of greater avoidance of posting selfies. Discussion: Appearance-related social media behaviors may be indicative of eating disorder risk. Implications for clinicians and advancements for social media screening tools are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-496
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume53
Issue number5
Early online date7 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • eating disorders
  • gender
  • selfies
  • social media

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