Rose TibbottTheodore TroxellSummary22 January 2018Assignment 1- Summary In the article “NetTweens: The Internet and Body Image Concerns in Preteenage Girls,” Marika Tiggemann and Amy Slater analyze the relationship between a preadolescents’ exposure to various types of media and the way they view their body becuase of it. After conducting numerous studies on 189 ten to twelve-year olds, Tiggemann and Slater found that internet usage in young teens had a strong relationship to monitoring body appearance, lower self esteem, and stricter dieting (606). Contrary to the belief that body image problems begin during one’s teenage years, recent research proposes that it may actually start in the preteen years.
Tiggemann and Slater discuss that 40 to 50 percent of preadolescents wish that they were thinner, which could potentially lead to eating disorders, a low self esteem, or even obesity (607). Tiggemen argues that todays impossibly thin body standards stem from sociocultural influences, with media having the largest impact on society (607). He also points out that there is a lack of studies done in involving preteens and body image, possibly because many people believe that parents have a larger influence at this stage in life (607). Besides the internet, Tiggemann found that magazines and television correlates with body displeasure in 9 to 12-year-olds as well (607). Similar results were found in age groups of children from seven to nine years old and five to eight years old, which leads Tiggemann and Slater to believe that the media does affect a preadolescents’ body image (608). Furthermore, Tiggemann addresses that 12.
6 percent of one sample of preteen girls have researched websites such as pro-ana, which are geared toward becoming skinnier (608). Tiggemann and Slater believe that only one study has examined the correlation between body dissatisfaction and use of the internet with a group of girls age 13-18 (608). The authors of this study found that Facebook mainly pointed towards an effect on body image, most likely because of the ability to upload pictures to a profile, which leads a young girl to compare her appearance to others (608). In Australia, says Tiggemann, many people believe that internet exposure increases most significantly when a girl transitions from middle school to high school, but studies show that on average, a child first uses the internet at around age 8, and could easily be exposed to body degrading posts as much as a teenager could (609). The target of this study was to examine the relationship between the internet and body disfatisfaciton in girls from age 10 to 12, and Tiggemann and Slater predicted that the two would be positively correlated (609). The study contained 189 girls from ages 10 to 12, recruited from eight different primary catholic schools in Adelaide, South Australia (609). Tiggemann explains that a letter was sent home to the parents of the girls, asking for consent to do the study, and 66.7 percent of the forms were returned (609).
The survey contained different types of media measures and body image related measures that were applicable to girls of the age 10 to 12 (610). The first measure that Tiggemann examines is magazine and television exposure, which was done by listing 15 popular girls’ magazines and having each participant rate how often they read each one from never, to sometimes, to almost every time it comes out (610). Likewise, Tiggemann and Slater also identified 16 popular girls’ television shows, grouped into Award shows, Music Videos shows, News, and Sports, and had participants rate how often they watched each one in the same manner (610). Next, Tiggemann analyzes internet usage through different questions relating to each participants internet access at home, the report of how long each girl spent on internet every day during the week and then the weekend, and a list of each of the preadolescents three favorite websites, which indicated if their parents set rules on what their children could do on the internet (610). Furthermore, each participant was asked if they had a facebook and myspace account, if that account was public or private, and how many friends they had on each account (610).
To research each girls’ internalization of the thin ideal, Tiggemann and Slater used the Sociocultural Internalization of Media Ideals Scale of Jones, Vigfusdottir, and Lee, which was intended for adolescent females (611). This scale analyzes the degree to which thin ideals portrayed in the media affect adolescent girls, for example, if they wished they looked like a model, in which they could answer no, sometimes, or yes (611). In addition, Tiggemann and Slater also looked into body surveillance using the Body Surveillance Scale of the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale, which generally measured how the girls most often thought of their body, in terms of how it looks or how it feels (611). This was assessed on a scale from 1, strongly disagree, to 7, strongly disagree that think about how I look many times a day. A higher score translates to a larger focus on ones looks (611). Body esteem was also a factor that Tiggemann and Slater took into consideration.
This was found through the Body Esteem Scale for Children of Mendelson and White, which contains 20 phrases used to identify if an adolescent was content or unhappy with the way they look (611). Lastly, Tiggemann and Slater assed the diet of each participant by asking them each if they watch what they eat, if they try to eat less than they really want, and if they have ever tried to diet in order to lose weight (612). After stating all of the measures involved in the study, Tiggemann and Slater identify the results of each section. The results of the television consumption section showed that 56% of the girls had their own mobile phone, 49% had their own computer or laptop, 52% owned a gaming device, and 84% had an Ipod or similar device (612).
Furthermore, Tiggemann and Slater stated that the most popular magazines identified were Girlfriend, Dolly, and Total Girl, and the most popular shows were Glee, Masterchef, Neighbors, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Simpsons (612). From the study, Tiggemann also found that 97.4 percent of the participants had internet access at home, and most spent about 1.71 hours a day using it during the weekend and 1.67 a day during the week (612). Also, Tiggemann identified Facebook, Youtube, and MSN as the most used websites of the preadolescents. About 42.6 percent of the girls reported having a facebook, and used it for an average of 1.
5 hours a day (613). Overall, Tiggemann and Slater confirm that their hypothesis that media exposure positively correlates with body image (614). The data from the survey showed that the out of all the measures tested, the internet had the largest impact, significantly correlating with all four measures of body image: Internalization of thin ideal, Body surveillance, Body esteem, and Dieting behavior (614). In addition, magazine and television exposure also had an effect on a preadolescents’ internalization of a thin ideal and body surveillance. Furthermore, Tiggemann points out that participants that use Facebook scored even higher on internalization, body surveillance, dieting, and also had a lower self esteem (614). In the discussion section of the article, Tiggemann indicates that this study adds to the lack of research on the relationship between media and body dissatisfaction in preadolescents, and also that television and magazines actually do affect the body image of a 10 to 12-year old girl (615). In addition, Tiggemann points out that this is just the second study which examines current media in relation to the appearance concerns of this young age group (615). Lastly, the results of the study prove that the sociocultural model stands true through the internet as well as other types of media like magazines and television (616).
Another finding that Tiggeman mentions in the discussion is that a vast amount of participants in the study were able to use social media networks such as Facebook and Myspace, even though each one was too young to create an account. In relation to this, girls who used these sites tended to have increasing amounts of internalization of the thin ideal, body surveillance and dieting, and lower body esteem (616). Tiggemann and Slater are able to draw many conclusions from this study, such as that the internet’s unlimited access, adaptability, and openness largely contributes to its highly persuasive effects (616). Furthermore, the internet seems to boost participation in younger users, as they are able to choose what they see and share it with whomever they want. The study also proves that many preadolescents are able to access media that was not made for their age group, and rather older teens (616). For example, Tiggeman shares that most of the favorite magazines and television shows chosen by the girls in the study are intended for at least 14 to 17-year-olds (616). This seems to indicated that these young girls are in a rush to grow up, and therefore are accessing content that is outside of their age range.
Although Tiggemann and Slater have confirmed that the internet has affected the unreasonably thin body standards, body surveillance, body esteem, and dieting regulations, the actual aspects of the internet that create this effect can not be determined (617). It is probable that there are numerous reasons for this relationship, such as the large amount of time girls spend making their profiles personal, and then commenting on and analyzing other profiles as well (617). Furthermore, because most girls like to post images that are unrealistic, this creates a social comparison between peers, and causes others to become self conscious of their own body or life (617).
From the previously mentioned conclusions, Tiggemann suggests that the internet should be recognized as having a large impact on many girls low body esteem, and girls should realize that many of the images they see online are unideal and will cause pressure and concerns (617). Tiggemann also recommends that because of the unrealistic ideals found on the internet, parents should limit the amount of time they let their children use the internet and monitor what sites they visit (617). Lastly, Tiggemann points out that the study contained a few limitations that should be considered after reading. For one, all of the participants in the study were from Catholic middle schools in Adelaide, Australia, and although this did contain a variety of different socioeconomic statuses, Tiggemann still suggests that more examination should occur in relation to religion and ethnicity (618). Next, the height and weight of each participant could have been measured to analyze the girls’ BMI. In addition, it is possible that the girls who choose to use social media are the ones who care most about their body image, which could have created the strong relationship between body insecurity and the media (618).
To conclude, Tiggemann restates that this study has shown a relationship between the use of internet and social media to a preadolescents’ view of their body. Furthermore, it has expanded the lack of data on this topic in relation to the age group of 10 to 12-year-old girls (618).