Girls are pressured to be thin by FRIENDS rather than TV and magazines
Study compared pressure from peers, TV and social media on how dissatisfied girls felt about their bodiesFound only disapproving friends had a long-term effect on their self-esteem
14:15 GMT, 31 January 2013
14:17 GMT, 31 January 2013
Friends have a greater influence on girls' body image than looking at thin models on TV and in magazines, a new study has found.
Experts have discovered that teenage girls disliking their bodies is less to do with thin ideals in television or social media and more likely to be influenced by those around them.
Researchers compared the effects of peers and the media on girls' body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms, and life satisfaction in general.
Teenagers today: Girls are far more influenced by their friends than by social media, a study suggests
They asked 237 young girls, aged ten to 17, to name their three favourite television shows and to rate how attractive the female actresses in those shows were.
They also looked at their body weight and height, whether or not they had feelings of inferiority when they compared themselves to other girls (peer competition), and how often they used social media.
The girls were then asked about how they felt about their own bodies, whether they had any eating disorder symptoms, and how satisfied they were with their lives.
Six months later, the researchers repeated these measures in 101 teenage girls from the initial group.
On the whole, neither television exposure to thin ideals nor social media use led to body dissatisfaction compared to the long-term effect of peer pressure.
The study, published in Journal of
Youth and Adolescence, also found that both peer competition and social media use led to lower life satisfaction.
Social media generation: Children are allowed to use Facebook from the age of 13, although other sites such as Moshi Monsters have social networking features
Lead author Dr Christopher Ferguson, from Texas A&M International University in the US, said: 'Our results suggest that only peer competition, not television or social media use, predict negative outcomes for body image.
'This suggests that peer competition is more salient to body and eating issues in teenage girls.'
However, Dr Ferguson said social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, did raise concerns at it could provide a 'new arena' for bullying amongst teens.
He said: 'Social media use may provide a new arena for peer competition, even if it does not directly influence negative body outcomes.'