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Direct and indirect relationships between social media use and body satisfaction: A prospective study among adolescent boys and girls
journal contributionposted on 2021-11-19, 00:00 authored by Hannah JarmanHannah Jarman, S A McLean, A Slater, M D Marques, S J Paxton
Cross-sectional research suggests a small, inverse association between social media use and body satisfaction. However, less is known regarding prospective, bidirectional, or mediating effects. In line with sociocultural theory, this study used a three-wave design to examine direct and indirect effects between social media use and body satisfaction, via thin-ideal and muscular-ideal internalisation and social comparisons. Adolescents ( n = 1911; Mage = 14.27, SD = 1.08) were invited to complete three surveys over 1 year. Cross-lagged panel models indicated acceptable fit for two social media use operationalisations, with better fit statistics for the appearance-focused use rather than photo-based activities model. Despite largely no direct effects, indirect effects were found. Social comparisons mediated the relationships over time, whereby higher social media use predicted higher comparisons, which predicted lower body satisfaction. The reverse direction was also found. Gender invariance indicates that prevention aimed at reducing comparisons may be suitable for boys and girls.