Social media, body satisfaction and well-being among adolescents: A mediation model of appearance-ideal internalization and comparison Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite adolescents' prolific use of social media, relationships between social media and body satisfaction and well-being are not yet well understood, especially among boys. This study tested a sociocultural model of body image within the context of social media among adolescent boys and girls. Specifically, this study examined whether appearance-ideal internalization and social appearance comparisons mediated relationships between social media engagement (intensity and appearance-focused use) and body satisfaction and subjective well-being. Australian adolescents between 11 and 17 years (N = 1,579, Mage = 13.45 years, SD = 1.15; 55.4 % boys) completed an online survey. Structural equational modelling indicated that only higher appearance-focused social media use was directly associated with lower body satisfaction and well-being. Generally, higher appearance-ideal internalization and comparisons mediated the relationships between higher social media engagement and lower body satisfaction and well-being. Multi-group analyses indicated these relationships were equivalent across gender. Findings supported the proposed model among boys and girls and extend existing theoretical knowledge to encompass male body image and well-being. Interventions which target internalization and comparisons in the context of social media are likely to be valuable in improving body satisfaction and subjective well-being in co-educational settings.

publication date

  • March 2021