Facebook isn't just a harmless time waster, especially for women.
A new study links the time American women spend on Facebook viewing friends' "selfies" and other photos to body image problems, according to BBC News.
The study, which was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Strathclyde, the University of Iowa and Ohio University, demonstrates that friends' photos have a greater effect on women than images of actresses and models.
"These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media," Petya Eckler, a researcher at the University of Strathclyde, told the BBC.
Researchers focused on Facebook because it is a "market leader," reports John Metcalfe at Atlantic Cities.
"Facebook's attraction to the female-student crowd is particularly strong, with research indicating that young women share more photos on the site than older women and men," said Metcalfe.
"Women are also 3.5 times more apt to post on Facebook about their weight than men, according to a recent study (conducted by Dr. Emily Kolpa and Dr. Megan Moreno and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health), with the majority of these updates being negative in tone and dealing with things like diet or exercise," he said.
Though Eckler and her team did not find a link between Facebook and eating disorders, they emphasize that women should exercise caution on Facebook so they do not develop body image problems, according to Agata Blaszczak-Boxe at Live Science.
"Poor body image often leads to shame and embarrassment about certain parts of one's body," said Eckler, according to Blaszczak-Boxe. "The larger message here is not to cut off Facebook, but to manage it and to take what you see there, especially the photos, with a pinch of salt."
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