The Effects of Social Media Use and Content on Self-Esteem and Perceived Physical Appearance in College Students

Catherine Johnson, Dr. Veronica Fruiht, Department of Psychology, Dominican University of California, 50 Acacia Ave, San Rafael CA 94901

Social Media, Self-Esteem and Perceived Physical Appearance in College Students
The term “social media” refers to websites or apps allowing users to create their own content to be shared by others on the platform (Moreno & Kota, 2013). Today over 72% of Americans use some form of social media, with the highest proportion of users ranging between ages 18-29. Research suggests that frequent social media use is correlated with high depressive symptoms, reports of low self-esteem, and appearance anxiety (Choukas-Bradley et al. 2019; Sherlock & Wagstaff 2019). High social media use is also connected to body image issues, eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, and higher appearance comparison. Use of media is negatively related to perceived body acceptance by others, as well as lower self-objectification (Andrew et al., 2016). The goal of the present study is to determine the effects of social media use, content, and gender on self-esteem and perceived appearance in college students. Participants in this study consisted of 40 undergraduate college students actively using at least one social platform, contacted via Instagram and Snapchat. Participants were asked to complete a survey consisting of questions derived from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and the physical appearance subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for College Students Scale (Harter & Neemann, 2012). Results are expected to support that college students who frequently use social media platforms have a lower self-esteem and perceived physical appearance, and that social media will have a larger negative impact on females than males. Results are also expected to show that fitness and beauty content predicts lower self-esteem and perceived physical appearance than other social media content. Our understanding of these differences could help college aged individuals recognize the impact of social media on their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves as a whole.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Catherine Johnson

Institution: Dominican University of California

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6635