Once again, research about the internet is pointing to evidence that it can be unhealthy and even dangerous, psychologically.
A recent study conducted by health sciences researcher Allison Carter of Simon Fraser University says there is a direct link between how much time young Canadian women spend on the internet and body dissatisfaction.
Carter’s study focused on Canadian females between the ages of 12–29 and looked at the amount of time they spend on the internet weekly compared to how they feel about their bodies. The study was quite large, with 2984 participants were who had a weekly time on the internet ranging from none at all or less than an hour, to more than 20 hours.
Overall, 14.7 per cent of participants were very dissatisfied with their body. 25–29-year old’s had a very dissatisfied/dissatisfied rating of 20.76%, versus 12-14-year olds, who spent less time online, had a 6.34% very dissatisfied/dissatisfied rating.
“Based on our survey of 3000 young Canadian women, we found one in five spends more than 20 hours online each week outside of work or school,” says Carter. “These women reported body dissatisfaction at three times the rate of those connected for less than one hour per week. Women who spend 11 to 20 hours online were also more likely to be less satisfied with their bodies.”
The conclusion of the study was that most 12 -29-year-old females spent over 20 hours a week on the internet, and were in hand more likely to be less satisfied with their bodies. Those who spent less than 20 hours, but more than 11 hours on the internet were more likely to be less satisfied than those who spent little to no time on the internet.
This isn’t the first study to make a connection between internet use and well-being. A 2015 study from the University of British Columbia found that social media postings on Facebook enable a vicious circle of jealousy and self-importance driven by envy, which in turn leads to a decrease in mental well-being among users. That study, called “Why Following Friends Can Hurt You: Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Envy on Social Networking Sites”, was published in the journal Information Systems Research, found that some Facebook users to feel their lives are unfulfilling in comparison to others, and to react by crafting posts that put their best selves on display.
Poor body image can at times be associated with low self-esteem, excessive exercise, eating disorders, and even depression. Many studies have been conducted over the years on the links between internet addiction and depression, not only in young or middle aged females, but in the general populous.
“The ubiquity of the Internet affirms the large role it will continue to play in the lives of Canadian youth. We need to help girls and young women engage with it in positive ways through, for example, limiting daily screen time, recognizing and resisting content that affects their self-esteem and body image and developing resilience and a healthy sense of identity beyond what appears on the outside,” says Carter.
Internet addiction does not only cause depression but a wide range of other issues, including anxiety, hostility, psychosis, isolation, impulse problems, and substance abuse according to everydayhealth.com.
As with other addictions, internet addiction also comes with withdrawal symptoms which include insomnia, mood swings, depression, irritability, sweating or shaking, and in extremely rare circumstances even psychosis.