How Social Media Can Influence Healthy Living

In this superficial day and age, social media is influencing everything and everyone. It’s considered a strong platform for people to connect virtually and eventually in person. Though, how is social media influencing a healthy living for society to follow? Obviously, this is such a vague question to answer, but these are the healthy and unhealthy influences of social media’s impacts on healthy living.

The Healthy Influences:

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  • Introducing food trends appeals the most to the mass users. Occasionally, on the explore page on Instagram, you would find one or the other: funny spam videos, hot models in expensive swimsuits but mostly delicious-looking foods. According to the University of Washington, researchers have found out that social media users would share what they ate by hashtagging or referencing what they ate during the day. Not only it is fun, but it can also create various trends that can change the way people eat. In fact, veganism is also becoming popular as well. According to the Food Revolution, it is reported that an interest of veganism has increased worldwide between 2004 to 2018. Whether or not people have an interest in veganism, it gives knowledge of healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle.

  • Fitness social media-influencers spread positive messages. Some of the known fitness models or gurus on Instagram, @Blogilates, @ToneItUp, @BarbellBrigade, @iskra and @annavictoria all have positive messages to motivate users. Most of these influencers show their workout routines, the diets they live by and inspirational messages for people to go about their day. Though these influencers do show their perfective illusion on Instagram, they also show the imperfections of their bodies and how people shouldn’t live up to standards. Cassey Ho, also known as Blogilates, captioned in a post about, “hip dips.” Hip dips are a normal phenomenon of where your hip bones sits a bit higher than your femur and she also states, “So if you want to spend all day and night fighting the natural anatomy of your body trying to "fill in" your hips, let me tell you right now that you are better off spending your energy elsewhere. Focus on being stronger.”

The Unhealthy Influences:

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  • Sexy and self-absorbed people, EVERYWHERE. Of course, people will always put on a show on social media to highlight what they want to share, however, there are very attractive people who tend to show off their own aesthetics instead of inspiring others. From the Kardashian-clan to Instagram models that have ‘perfect’ hourglass bodies, these influencers show the unhealthy influences that have an effect young women’s esteem. According to Selena Pruitt, an American studies capstone who has done her academic research on the Kardashians and their influence says, “Their reality show came on the air in 2007. They’ve been around for almost 10 years and they influence everything—from fashion to music to ideals in society. I think people don’t study them because they write them off as shallow and worthless.”

  • Sets up unrealistic standards for the average person. Models on Instagram do indeed set up unrealistic beauty standards for the average girl that follows them. Many girls dismiss the fact that most of these photos are retouched, Photoshopped and these models have to have correct posture/angle in order to make the photo flattering. According to the University of Notre Dame, because of the endless vanity girls see on social media, “It is easy to fall into the comparison trap and sink into a sea of self-criticism while on social media.”

  • People tend to go MIA (Missing-In-Action). The more people spend time on their phones, the more they don’t pay attention to the things around them. We interviewed Dr. Kristin Heron, a clinical psychologist and a psychology professor here at Old Dominion University about her take on social media influence on health behavior: “Some of the research we’ve done looking at social media use on college campuses shows that it isn’t about how often people use social media--things like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter--it was more about the ways they used those sites. In particular, when people post something [on social media] and then wait for a response, going back repeatedly and checking to see how many people are liking, commenting on, or sharing their post or photos – a process that we call reassurance seeking – it seems that this type of posting and checking is associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes. Some of the research my graduate students and I have conducted shows that when college women in particular post on social media and then check and re-check for how people are responding, that this is associated with greater body dissatisfaction and unhealthy eating behaviors."

But Like, How… and Is Social Media Really A Good Influence?

 

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According to Dr. Heron, “social media is really just giving a different voice to things that have been happening for quite some time. In the past, more traditional media sources--, such as magazines or TV ads, were used to convey information about health. Now, with social media, it is just making it [easier] for people to access information faster and more frequently. This doesn’t mean that social media is good or bad. She also says, “there are good aspects of social media and there are bad aspects of it. There are things about it that can make us feel worse about ourselves, but that certainly doesn’t mean there can’t be aspects of it that we can learn from. I don’t think we can say it’s black-or-white.