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How selfies are lowering your self-esteem

How selfies are lowering your self-esteem

How selfies are lowering your self-esteem

Frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites such as Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction, according to US researchers from Penn University.

“Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we’re now starting to look at the effect of viewing behaviour,” says graduate student Ruoxu Wang.

Viewing behaviour is also called “lurking” – when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer.

This may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study, published online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics, revealed the exact opposite.

From an online survey, Wang and fellow researcher Fan Yang found posting behaviour did not have significant psychological effects for participants; viewing behaviour did. The more often people viewed their own and others’ selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction.

“People usually post selfies when they’re happy or having fun,” says Wang. “This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think his or her life is not as great as theirs.”

“This can help counsellors work with students feeling lonely, unpopular, or unsatisfied with their lives,” adds Yang.

But selfies aren’t just having a negative impact on the lurkers. Research from Yonsei University in South Korea show both taking and sharing selfies affected self-esteem and social sensitivity.

Participants who took selfies, especially those who also shared their selfie on social media, exhibited greater social sensitivity than those who took a photograph of someone or something else.

The researchers found that turning the camera on ourselves makes us more inclined to see ourselves through the eyes of others.

Interestingly the study also shows that merely saving selfies on a smartphone rather than posting them on social media has a more negative effect on people’s self-esteem level. This suggests that the act of taking a selfie can make us feel worse about ourselves, due to the increased focus on the self. However, sharing it with others largely reduces the impact this effect.

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