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Psychological effects of taking selfies

Hans India 2019-02-12 02:27:30
Think twice before you take that selfie! Selfies are notorious not only for causing injuries and death among people lost in the act of clicking themselves with a phone camera; they also have disastrous psychological impact, leaving selfie-takers feeling more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive.
The feelings of inadequacy are intense enough to drive many of them to undergo cosmetic surgery to change their facial appearance. These are the findings of a landmark study conducted by The Esthetic Clinics involving 300 patients who presented themselves at its branches in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad for cosmetic surgery procedures. 
The study found that people posting selfies untouched without using any filters saw a significant increase in anxiety and decrease in confidence. Those posting untouched and even retouched selfies also experienced a significant decrease in feelings of physical attractiveness. Generally, taking and posting a selfie on social media resulted in lowered mood and worsened self-image.
Participants who had the opportunity to retake and modify their selfie before posting it to social media still experienced decreases to mood and anxiety. Significantly, majority of people posting selfies wanted to undergo cosmetic surgery and procedures to change their looks.
Given that men and women between 16–25 years of age spend up to 5 hours per week taking selfies and uploading them to their personal profiles, these findings have clinical implications for the prevention and treatment of mental health difficulties and raise significant concern about social media use and well-being.
Facial plastic and facial cosmetic surgeon Dr Debraj Shome, director, The Esthetic Clinics said, “This first-of-its-type study in India, conducted across four cities, has found that the process of taking, altering and posting selfies negatively affects self-esteem and body image perception, and promotes body dysmorphia.
There is significant negative effect of taking and posting selfies on changes to mood and feelings of physical attractiveness. Harmful effects of selfies were found even when participants could retake and retouch their selfies. We found that the act of selfies being taken and posted contributes to significant feelings of inadequacy over looks, and a strong desire to change looks through cosmetic surgery and procedures.”
“Posting selfies to social media has adverse causal effects on the self-image and mood of young women and men, and could make them more vulnerable to clinical eating, mood swings and anxiety disorders. Frequently taking selfies could be considered a body checking behaviour, such as repeated weighing and recurrent checking of one’s reflection in mirrors. This should be considered a risky online health-related behaviour in terms of mental health, especially if it triggers weight and shape dissatisfaction,” added Dr Debraj Shome.
The findings about negative psychological impact of selfies on people were the most marked in Delhi, followed by Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, in that order, both for men and women. In the overall India study that observed behaviours of people after posting their selfies on social media platforms, 60 per cent men and 65 per cent women showed an increase in anxiety.
Of all the respondents, 61 per cent men and 70 per cent women recorded a decrease in confidence after posting their selfies. There was significant decrease in feelings of physical attractiveness in 61 per cent of the men and 67 per cent of the women, leading to a desire to change looks through cosmetic surgery in 62 per cent men and 65 per cent of the women studied. 
In Hyderabad, 59 per cent men and 60 per cent women showed an increase in levels of anxiety after posting their selfies on social media, and 56 per cent men and 70 per cent women showed a decrease in self-confidence. Their feelings of physical attractiveness also recorded a dip, with 62 per cent men and 67 per cent women feeling dissatisfied with their looks. This led to a desire to change looks through cosmetic surgery in 59 per cent men and 65 per cent women in Hyderabad.
Dr Debraj Shome said, “High body dissatisfaction is the primary risk factor for the development of eating disorders and is correlated with low self-esteem and depression. Interventions that aim to diminish or eliminate the harmful effects of social media engagement on one’s psychological makeup need to be validated and implemented. Addiction to phones and selfies may create a mentally unstable next generation”.
Tags: Psychological Effects, Selfies, Esthetic Clinics