Lifestyle Health

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Sinister side of 'selfies' – how they hurt our self-esteem

The famous selfie from the Oscars; psychologists believe the 'selfie culture' may be undermining our self esteem
The famous selfie from the Oscars; psychologists believe the 'selfie culture' may be undermining our self esteem
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THEY are the trend of the moment, ensnaring everybody from President Barack Obama to the stars of the Oscars – but 'selfies' may also have a sinister side.

An Irish psychologist has warned that teenagers feel "under pressure" to photograph themselves.

New international research suggests that browsing the photos of pouting friends on social media sites could be even more demoralising to vulnerable young women than looking at airbrushed images of models in magazines because the images "hit closer to home".

A team of British and US scientists led by Petya Eckler of the University of Strathclyde have found that the idealised version of ourselves put out there in the form of camera-phone self-portraits is likely to trigger a negative impact on the self-esteem of those around us.

Women who spent most time scanning social media sites were most likely to feel bad about how they looked and to make unhealthy comparisons between their own appearance and that of their friends, the study found.


Dr Deirdre Cowman, co-ordinator of Endangered Bodies Ireland and a lecturer in psychology at All Hallows College, Dublin, said she was not surprised by the findings, saying parents had expressed concern their teenagers felt "under pressure" to post 'selfies' on social media sites.

"While on the one hand posting photos online can provide people with a creative way of expressing themselves, it can also lead them to focus on their appearance over and above their other qualities," she said.

Dr Cowman said such images on Facebook or Instagram were not reflections of reality, as they had often been carefully posed and edited with flattering filters.

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