The Role of Family Socialization and Self-esteem in the Relationship Between Online Social Networks Use and Satisfaction with Bodily Appearance Among Female Adolescents

Author: Ana Ciprić, Ivan Landripet


Relationship between exposure to media contents and dissatisfaction with one’s appearance has been consistently reported in literature, particularly among adolescent and young women, which may have far-reaching psychosocial ramifications. According to the sociocultural model, socially conditioned norms of desirable bodily appearance – which are being reproduced and internalized through media use – reinforce self-objectifying views on one’s body. Recent studies expanded the notion of media influence to online social networks, which are becoming an increasingly important source of media contents, as well as a communication tool for self-promotion and feedback on one’s appearance and activities. To expend the application of the sociocultural model to online social networking and to detect possible protective factors, this study examined relationships between some of the fundamental dimensions of development of dissatisfaction with bodily appearance (internalization of body ideals, self-surveillance, family socialization, self-esteem, and influence of social network use). Data was collected in an online survey on a sample of 1.301 female sophomore students from Croatian capital of Zagreb and Zagreb County high schools. Results supported the propositions of the sociocultural model in the context of online social networks use. Frequency of social networks use was associated with dissatisfaction with one’s appearance through internalization of body ideals. Moreover, the relationship between internalization of body ideals and satisfaction with bodily appearance was partially mediated by self-surveillance, which corresponds to the self-objectifying theory. Moderating effect of self-esteem on the relationship between internalization of body ideals and satisfaction with one’s appearance was not confirmed, but self-esteem was found to be a direct predictor of satisfaction with bodily appearance. The relationships between self-esteem and some aspects of family socialization were also established. That points to a possible mechanism of a protective role of family socialization and the possibility of prevention of adverse outcomes of media idealization of bodily appearance and accentuation of its importance by affecting the development of self-esteem in female sdolescents. Prevention focused on self-esteem development in young people can be achieved through the education system as well.

Key words: family socialization, online social networks, self-esteem, self-objectification, sociocultural model
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