The selfie lie: Staged photographs linked to poor self-esteem

Spending too much time looking at selfies on social media sites like Facebook may adversely affect self-esteem and life satisfaction, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics.

After conducting an online survey to assess the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies on social media users, researchers found people who more frequently viewed their own and others' selfies had lower levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction. Researchers did not find a significant correlation between posting habits and mental health.

"People usually post selfies when they're happy or having fun," said lead author Ruoxu Wang, graduate student in mass communications at Pennsylvania State University in State College. "This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think his or her life is not as great as theirs."

Researchers did detect one group that was positively influenced by frequent selfie and groupie viewing. Among individuals categorized as having a strong desire to be popular, frequent photo viewing on social media was linked to increased self-esteem and life satisfaction. The authors suggested this is likely because the activity helps satisfy these participants' desires to appear popular.

"We don't often think about how what we post affects the people around us," said co-author Fan Yang, also a graduate student in mass communications at Penn State. "I think this study can help people understand the potential consequences of their posting behavior. This can help counselors work with students feeling lonely, unpopular or unsatisfied with their lives."

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