How Social Media has Normalized Disordered Eating in Children

How Social Media has Normalized Disordered Eating in Children

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Nicole Yeomans started this petition to Instagram and

Young, impressionable boys and girls across the globe are obsessed with social media and all-things technology. Although social media has been seen to have many benefits, the impact it has on vulnerable growing children can be seen as an increasing dilemma to public health. Plastered across billboards, magazines, Instagram ads, and throughout every social network available is the illustration of the "ideal" or "perfect" body one must strive to look like in order to be "fit," and "popular." YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram influencers are constantly uploading videos of "what I eat in a day," or "easy ways to loss weight fast!" that many children watch because they are fans of these said influencers. Failing to realize right from wrong, these adolescents can fall into habits of disordered eating, compensatory exercise, and possibly eating disorders if these practices were to progress.

Researchers have revealed that the average child watches up to 5 hours of television per day, and spends up to 6-7 hours viewing various media platforms altogether. Another study measuring the volume of social media use found that the average child viewed different social networks 61 times per day. Through this research, it is safe to conclude that children are surrounded with these networks that allow them to compare themselves and their bodies with other, unattainable body sizes.

As previously stated, many children cannot differentiate between what they see and what is real, therefore young children are more susceptible and unaware of the digital manipulation of the fashion industry which enhances human bodies to portray the "ideal" female and male body. Therefore concluding that peers, parents, providers, school officials, etc. should be fully aware of the programs kids are exposed to and the content within these programs that could pose a risk to a child's health. Physicians should take note on the children's involvement in the media and any technological devices owned by the child. Finally, another possibly effective method would be for corporations like Instagram to have trigger warnings on ads and educational health ads which promote healthy eating habits for adolescents. 

If we as a society fail to acknowledge the harsh yet real impacts the "health hack" side of social media has on young impressionable children, then we as a society should expect to see more and more children grow with a lack of confidence in their bodies, low self-esteem, and bad body image. Many adolescents are internally fighting themselves and malnourishing their bodies to try and attain the unattainable "ideal" body taught by society, therefore it is our job to make them feel accepted, to learn to love themselves inside and out, and to eat a well-balanced diet.

By signing this petition, you are being educated on the effects social media may have on a child's growth both mentally and physically and want to spread awareness about this public health topic!

Photo Link: https://www.vox.com/2015/7/15/8948445/diet-advice-exercise-women

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