Selfie viewing on social media is related to lower self-esteem and lower life satisfaction, new research finds.
The study focused on people ‘lurking’ on social media, rather than being active.
Lurking is just observing, rather than taking part.
Posting to social media was not linked to self-esteem or life satisfaction, the researchers found.
However, the more often people looked at selfies — whether their own or other people’s — the lower their self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Ms Ruoxu Wang, the study’s first author, said:
“People usually post selfies when they’re happy or having fun.
This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think your his or her life is not as great as theirs.”
Selfie viewing good for some
Selfie viewing didn’t have negative implications for everyone, though.
Those with the greatest desire to be popular had higher self-esteem and life satisfaction if they looked at more selfies.
This is probably because it was more likely to satisfy their inner desire to appear popular.
Ms Wang continued:
“We don’t often think about how what we post affects the people around us.
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.”
Benefits of taking a smiling selfie
While looking at selfies is related to poorer outcomes, taking them might not be so bad for you.
One study has found that taking smiling selfies is linked to feeling more confident and comfortable:
“Taking selfies and sharing them with friends makes people happier, new research finds.
Participants in the study took smiling selfies every day over a couple of ordinary weeks.
Selfies were not the only types of pictures that cheered people up.
The researchers found that sharing images that made the taker feel happy also worked.”
The study was published in the journal Telematics and Informatics (Wang et al., 2016).