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How do “selfies” impact adolescents’ well-being and body confidence? A narrative review

Authors McLean SA, Jarman HK, Rodgers RF

Received 16 April 2019

Accepted for publication 7 June 2019

Published 9 July 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 513—521


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Siân A McLean,1,2 Hannah K Jarman,2 Rachel F Rodgers3,4

1Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 2School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 3Department of Psychiatric Emergency & Acute Care, Lapeyronie Hospital, Chru Montpellier, Montpellier, France; 4Department of Applied Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract: Social media use has grown rapidly in recent years, with one of the most popular activities for young people being the taking, sharing, and browsing of digital self-photos, known as selfies. However, research has only recently begun to investigate selfies, and little is known about selfie practices in adolescents, or the associations between these practices and well-being and body confidence. This paper aimed to address this gap and conduct a narrative review of selfie practices and the relationships with well-being and body confidence in adolescents. No studies were found reporting on selfie practices and these relationships among children. However, taking selfies appears to be common practice among adolescents, although posting selfies online is less frequent. The studies reviewed indicate that certain aspects of selfie behaviors may be more problematic than others. Specifically, viewing selfies online appears to have a negative impact on adolescents’ well-being and body confidence, at least in the short term in experimental contexts. Moreover, seeking and placing importance on feedback from others may also be a harmful aspect of selfie practices. Finally, consistent with research examining social media, social comparison has been identified in this emerging body of research as a potential mechanism which links selfie engagement to well-being and body confidence. To further advance understanding of the correlates and effects of selfie practices, research with children and with boys, and research focused on a wider range of indicators of well-being, is needed. Most importantly, prospective research is required to examine the directionality of links between selfie practices and well-being and body confidence.

Keywords: selfies, social media, adolescents, well-being, body image, social comparison

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