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Appearance matters on the internet

Conference contribution
Authors Ann Frisén
Sofia Berne
Published in Appearance Matters 6, 1-2 July, Bristol, England
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

On social networking sites adolescents interact in ways that were not possible some years ago, by uploading and sharing photos in which they believe they look good. They also receive and provide positive and negative appearance-related comments based on these photos. Therefore, internet and especially social networking sites provides a potent context for the formation of children’ and adolescents’ views of their appearance and bodies. In the context of the cyber world two studies of cyberbullying among pupils have found that appearance is the most commonly reported reason for being cyberbullied (Cassidy, Jackson, & Brown, 2009; Mishna, Cook, Gadalla, Daciuk, & Solomon, 2010). The aim of this study was to explore 15-year-old adolescents' experiences of appearance related cyberbullying. Twenty-seven adolescents participated in four focus groups. The adolescents stated that it is common to be targeted in appearance-related cyberbullying, especially for girls, and that appearance-related cyberbullying is considered to be a potent strategy when attempting to hurt girls. Girls often received comments about being fat, while among boys, it was common to receive comments about looking or seeming "gay." According to the adolescents, an important reason for engaging in appearance-related cyberbullying was to attain higher social status in the peer group. The girls and boys reacted differently to appearance-related cyberbullying. Boys tended to act out or take no offence, while girls reported lower self-esteem and feelings of depression. Findings in this study contribute to research on appearance related cyberbullying as well as to research on adolescents' body esteem development.

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