SOCIAL MEDIA LITERACY MITIGATES NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON BODY IMAGE OF EXPOSURE TO SOCIAL MEDIA APPEARANCE IDEAL IMAGES IN YOUNG WOMEN BUT NOT MEN
Susan J Paxton1, Natalie C Tamplin1, Siân A McLean2
1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia/2Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Evidence is growing that high levels of exposure to appearance related social media is associated with low body satisfaction. Based on research with traditional media, we examined whether social media literacy, i.e., knowledge and skills to analyse and evaluate social media, protect against the negative impact of exposure to social media appearance ideal images on the body image of young adults. Participants were 187 females (Mage = 24.6, SD = 3.7) and 187 males (Mage = 22.8, SD = 3.9). To increase ecological validity, the study was presented as an investigation of alcohol promotion on social media. Participants viewed gender-matched alcohol-related appearance ideal social media images or control images containing alcohol only. Social media literacy was assessed prior to image exposure and state body satisfaction was measured before and after image viewing. Desire to drink alcohol was measured to support the cover story. A small negative effect of exposure to appearance ideal social media images on body satisfaction was observed in both females and males. However, in females, social media literacy moderated effects such that females with low social media literacy who viewed thin-ideal social media images experienced negative effects on body satisfaction while those with high social media literacy were unaffected. Results provide evidence for the protective role of social media literacy and support the inclusion of social media literacy skills in prevention interventions.