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Social Network Self Image And Esteem Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 5380 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Social Networking is the act of interacting and networking with others in a social online environment via the use of a website It includes a variety of technology tools on the internet which helps the society interact and exchange media, information and resources such as pictures, songs, articles and ideas it could be through text, audio, video, images, and other multimedia communications. Social Networking has escalated to a point where it becomes part of peoples everyday living. These sites have provoked a lot of controversies and reactions; they have increased well overtime and have become so popular around the world mostly because of the freedom that comes with it. Just in a little while you can make friends across the globe, get to know so much about them and their cultures and beliefs. It is the fastest growing tool of communication on the internet and just like all other sites on the internet it has its advantages and disadvantages, I realized that it has most especially influenced the society on their self-esteem or self-Image negatively and I proposed this study to explore the effects of a particular social network – face book how it has affected how we feel about or see ourselves, others and the world at large but also how we can use it to our advantage instead. This study seeks to understand how these networking sites affect its users psychologically. We know that Human communication in its most primitive form has been in existence since the genesis of humans. However, the past three decades has shown that the basis of how people exchange information has taken a different dimension. One reason for this change is the development in the technology of communication, such as: the use of Internet, instant messaging, and social networking sites, just to mention a few. Researchers pondered in time past if the Internet would improve the traditional face-to-face (FTF) communication (Flaherty, Pearce, & Rubin, 1998; Barber, Mattson, & Peterson, 1997;London, 1993). Researchers today are still arguing whether that transformation has come to pass (McLeod & Ho, 2008) and what the effects of that substitution will be.




Introduction€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦ 1

Research Questions€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦…. 2

Research Objectives€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦ 3

2.0 The Problem Statement€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦.. 3

2.1 Significance of the study€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦…. 4

2.2 Structure of the research€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦ 5

List of Figures

Social Networking Websites€¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦â‚¬¦..


Social networks have had a great impact on our self-image and esteem from the onset the reason may be because it doesn’t allow readers, viewers or listeners to participate in the creation or development of the content.

It is a platform for people from all over the globe to come together and socialize with each other. It is so fast growing we can see that it has captured the attention and minds of millions.

Jen Comas Keck studied that over half of the women she interviewed said that looking at pictures and status updates on social networks sites made them more self-conscious about their body and their weight. In the same study she said that “the most avid female social media users were also more likely to be unhappier and less content with their lives than others.” (Jen Comas Keck, 2012). It’s hard to deny the addictive qualities of the social media. If you can’t stay off it and what you see is making you feel bad about yourself, I think we can agree that it can be pretty dangerous for your self-esteem. It seems like nowadays, having a positive body image isn’t something that comes naturally for most people. It has to be worked towards. 

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Even though these social network sites undoubtedly serve as some kind of entertainment for us it is an undeniable fact that it is also affecting us on some deeper level. Face book has made life seem like a competition for most people because it involves whos the best of what or whos more sexy or appealing to the general public.

Fig 1: Social Networking Websites

Angela Haupt shows that she blamed Facebook for the promotion of poor body image. She said The popular social networking site may be promoting poor body image among its users, according to a new survey from the Centre for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland. About 75 percent of Facebook users said they were unhappy with their bodies, and 51 percent said seeing photos of themselves on the site made them more weight conscious. Slightly more than 30 percent said they felt sad when they compared Facebook photos of themselves to their friends’ photos. People are now constantly aware of their appearance, thanks to Facebook,” (Steven Crawford) “A common reaction is, ‘I need to be thinner.’ And it’s that kind of thinking that can lead to hazardous dieting. Facebook is an influential factor in developing severe eating disorders.”

Dr Gwenn O’Keeffe stated that “For some teens, social network sites is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friends house,” OKeeffe said in a prepared statement. A large part of this generations social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones. Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their childrens online world €” and comfortably parent in that world.

1.1 Research Questions

How does face book affect the self image or self esteem of its users and about the addiction it causes also the effects of cyber bullying?

What are the categories of people mostly affected by these effects of face book?

What can be done to avoid or at least reduce the impact of the hazard caused by face book and turn it to our advantage?

1.2 Research objectives

1. To investigate the effects face book has on its users.

2. To investigate the categories of people affected most by the effects caused by face book.

3. To investigate ways to avoid or reduce such conflicts on face book and how to improve self worth even while using the social network.


Face book was invented by a Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, he is a computer programmer and internet entrepreneur (management of face book newsroom {2012}) face book was created as a platform for communication between friends, classmates and the world at large. It was aimed at creating a forum where people can interact freely with each other through their ideas, thoughts, pictures and personal conversations. It took a turn around when it was realized that people started using it as an opportunity to showcase themselves mainly through their pictures and those with more attractive pictures were giving more attention now causing the less attractive to feel unwanted and even a bit depressed. Researchers have proven that it actually detracts from a strong sense of self-worth, (Amanda Forrest and Joanne Wood in Psychological Science) studied that those with low self-esteem frequently post updates that work against them. They tend to criticize their friends with negative details of their lives, making them less likeable as “friends but those with high self esteem were well received. Face book is like a world of fantasy but people take it too serious and tend to be hurt by everything they read or see and are easily hurt when it seems like everyone is having more fun than them.


The main purpose of this research paper is to identify the effects face book has on its users and to find ways to help reduce the problems by giving my opinion and bringing up suggestions in which we can be on face book without feeling bad about ourselves.

2.2 STRUCTURE OF THE RESEARCH: The structure of my research will be as thus:

Chapter 1 Introduction

The first chapter will discuss the background study and introduction about this research. This includes the research question, objectives and scope of the research amongst others.

Chapter 2 Literature Review

This section will discuss the secondary data and other relevant information related to my research and the views of previous researchers too.

Chapter 3 Research Methods

Ill present the various techniques I used for my research and Ill discuss the method of data collection too.

Chapter 4 Data Analysis

Ill discuss the analysis of the data collected.

Chapter 5 Conclusion and Recommendations and Limitations

This will be the last chapter Ill discuss about my findings of the research and recommend on solutions I find suitable.


Summary, Bibliography and References.



2.1 INTRODUCTION: The social networking sites are defined by the oxford dictionary as a network of social interactions and personal relationships also a dedicated website or other application which enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, images, etc (online oxford advanced dictionary)

These social networking sites can be seen as a site which lays its focus on connecting people who share common interests, or activities. It provides a means which enables users to interact with others over the internet that is instant messaging or email. These sites are meant to aid users share interests, ideas, activities etc with other people in the same network groups.

Below are examples of well known social networking sites.











Facebook is a renowned social network site which was established in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg alongside his roommates and fellow Harvard University students Carlson, Nicholas (March 5, 2010)At Last €”The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded. At first the membership of the site was limited only to the founders and students of Harvard University it was however extended to other students in Boston and gradually it spread to other Universities in the United States and now all over the world.

It is without a doubt the most popular social network site on the internet and all over the world.

I believe facebook Brings together every kind of social group in one place and allows them interact, I believe everyone have different reasons why they join Facebook, some for businesses, pleasure, catching up with old friends or making new ones, some to discover the trend in music or arts or advertise their products or businesses it can be used in a lot of ways and honestly it depends on what it can do for you, while some have found it to be very beneficial and advantageous, others have really had a tough time on it. I will be discussing some of the advantages as well as disadvantages of Facebook as a social networking site below:

Advantages: it is undeniable that it has become a very good form of communication because it has become universal and almost everyone has a Facebook account whether they are active or not; it helps people keep in touch with the world or reconnect old friends, or even help people meet and make new friends. Also it is now one of the best ways to stay informed about the latest news, business, fashion trends, arts, music and a whole lot of things. Well we can see that these social networks interconnects family, friends through constant communication or being up to date in each others lives when it is impossible to communicate face to face. Social networks since they began have made it easier for everyone to be more involved and educated about whats going on around the world. People in Africa can meet and learn things about people in the UK and vice versa there is no barrier geographically. There has been an increase in inter racial friendship and more knowledge about other cultures, beliefs and ethics are being learnt daily. Before social media sites began, we gained knowledge about other countries or people mainly through the media {TV, radio, newspapers etc.} but now we dont really need the media because with the social sites we can learn about all we need to know by interacting personally with citizens of the country or see the news from different perspective in an unbiased way, and sometimes we stay more informed with this sites because not everyone watches the news or read the papers, but one can accidentally read or hear about it on social networks. It has in a huge way helped people to air their views and opinions on certain issues, people can talk freely about politics, music, arts and so many other issues, even celebrities now have an easier avenue to inform their fans on the tours, their lifestyles, and also determine their fan base all around the world.

Interestingly, some of these sites such as facebook have helped in solving some crimes, e.g. there was a case of some criminals who had stolen and came on facebook and bragged about it. They were tracked down by the authorities through that. It is also used as a forum to raise funds for charities or raising awareness about certain illnesses. There is an instance of a life being saved by an organ donor because of a post on a facebook. These social networks are free so its a cheaper way to keep in touch with people and for business owners it doesnt cost them anything to advertise their products and keep in touch with their consumers.

From all the points above we can see that these social networking sites help us broaden our knowledge and widen our culture.

Disadvantages: Just as everything with an advantage it also has its disadvantages. Personally I think the disadvantages have a larger and most standing effect, which is one of the reasons why I have chosen to talk about them. One of the most common is identity theft or fraud. Overtime these sites have been used by people to scam and assume the identities of whoever they want to Impersonate, most of the accounts are hacked into or pictures of people taken due to the low level of privacy people have on these sites and are used for fraudulent purposes. Another great disadvantage I want to consider is the Addiction; these sites can be so addictive and time consuming that the individual loses the will to do anything else except stay online at all times, cyber bullying is another great disadvantage because this affects the individual deeply and has been the cause of depression which leads to suicide. Our self esteem and self image are at a huge risk because the world is becoming more difficult to please and certain standards are being raised that one has to meet up to, a lot of people have to bother with self image and self esteem issues everyday of their lives and now with all these social networks everywhere it has become harder to deal with because they out their lives out there hoping to be appreciated but in return get bullied or made fun of, this will hurt their pride and demoralize them even. I intend to carefully take out time and explain these terms I mentioned above and show how they pose as a life changing problem to individuals.

Almost everyone these days has access to the internet, even if they dont have a laptop or desktop they have their hand phones which they can equally use to access facebook.


Can be defined as the continued use of a mood altering substance or behaviour despite adverse dependency consequences (Angres DH, Bettinardi-Angres 2008), or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviours. {American Society for Addiction, Medicine (2012)}. It occurs when a person is engaged in activities that are pleasurable to them but as they engage more often it becomes a compulsion than voluntary act and it begins to interfere with their normal daily activities, schedules or responsibilities. Addiction can either be on substance dependence or drug addiction which is the most common or behavioural addiction (sex, internet, gambling etc). Medilexicon’s medical dictionary defined it as Habitual psychological or physiologic dependence on a substance or practice that is beyond voluntary control.

Fig 2: Facebook Addiction

Behavioural Addiction:

This is the type of addiction that doesnt depend on drugs; it is in no way substance-related {Albrecht U, Kirschner NE, Grüsser SM. (2007)}, it can also be known as a process addiction (Shaffer, Howard J. “Understanding the means and objects of addiction: Technology, the internet, and gambling”)

It includes an exigency to frequently engage in a particular activity until there is a serious destructive repercussion which affects the individual physically, socially, mentally, and even financially. The proof of definite addiction is known when despite all these consequences the individual remains persistent.

Its not in all cases that the substance or behaviour which causes addiction is harmful; sometimes a seemingly harmless activity or substance like chocolate, internet, coffee and a lot more arent harmful in nature but the excessive and repeated use of them can lead to a strong addiction and become harmful.

The facebook addiction is a behavioural one its Addiction can lead to over-exhilaration, and cause apprehension and stress, wreck relationships, and can stand as a menace to the family entity. The lack of interpersonal physical attraction can be quite harmful.

Previous studies have shown that facebook can be very addictive because people stay on the internet all day, not only through laptops or desktops but through hand phones too because most of these sites now have applications on phone, thereby making it easier for accessibility at any time and place. People actually ignore their real lives for social networks, they prefer to spend time with their online friends than face real life, theres been complains from a lot of parents about their kids addiction to social networks and how it distracts them even from doing homework , house chores and prevents them from socializing with their peers.

These social networks place no limit to what information can be placed out there for everyone to see; most people tend to share too much information about themselves or family or even about others. Most times this information has encouraged cyber-stalking. Besides the addiction and it makes its users to decline in face to face communication with other individuals, people hide behind the computer screen and assume any sort of personality but in reality they are far from the appearances they put up on the internet, it is also scary because in as much as they can assume a personality so can anyone else, so people are usually deceived by whatever they are led to believe on these social networks. In my country Nigeria, there was an incident which occurred involving a girl who met some guys on facebook and started off as friends and got very close and they decided after a while to meet up physically, things turned out for the worse when she got raped by them and almost killed. She was a victim because she was gullible and got carried away by everything she perceived them to be on facebook. It is so evident to see that anyone can assume any identity on the internet.

Theres an outline below on the effects of facebook addiction on us:

Concentration loss: when our ability to concentrate is being jeopardized it causes disruptions and makes us always lag behind in our work or everyday life.

Stress: this is an important effect of facebook addiction; it causes us to be stressed out thereby lowering our emotional ability to understand.

The need to always be online: it gives us this endless need to always be online even if theres nothing serious to do online.

Comparison: people mostly use facebook to show-off so when we see all the fun activities and happy posts of people it breeds jealousy and resentment. It makes us unconsciously compare our lives and activities to others

Living an imaginary life: it debilitates our contentment with real life happenings and can lead to depression.

Time wastage: it occupies our time thereby leaving us no room to engage in other profitable activities.

Physically: it can affect us physically because sitting for long and staring at the computer can either hurt our backs or make our eyes blur.

Mental disorder: it can cause us to deteriorate in other activities and cause stress.

When a point is reached where the tension and despair supersedes any pleasure or benefit which was once gotten from the habit then it is safe to say the individual is very addicted to that cause.

Cyber bullying

This is the type of bullying which take place via electronic devices, either through email, instant messaging, cell phones, chat rooms etc. People use technology to harass or send threats has been on the increase since social networking sites became so popular; it has a very devastating impact on its victims such as depression, loneliness and suicide. People are so mean online, whether its friends or people you know to total strangers. Cyber bullying can take form in different ways:

Through abusive texts and emails

Posting nasty messages or pictures

Emulating others online

Ignoring others online

Inappropriate tagging of pictures

Inappropriate conversations

Posting personal information about people online

Sometimes it is even stretched out by an individuals account being hacked into and the hacker poses as the individual and uses the account to harm the individuals personality or reputation. There are also so many instances on suicidal cases caused by cyber bullying but despite all these it is still on the increase and more people are affected daily. Cyber bullying is very different from bullying that take place face to face because;

The bully can assume a sense of anonymity.

It is very difficult to avoid and can take place at any time sometimes for 24hrs.

The individual can be targeted wherever they are, it can be obtrusive.

It takes place on a social platform so it has a larger number of spectators.

Anonymity is an active compelling force, the thought of being hidden behind a fake-screen name gives us this feeling of invincibility and invisibility so we feel we can do and say anything we want. Nevertheless on facebook we are not as anonymous as we think in fact there can hardly be anonymity on facebook, most times even with our identities being known we still act inappropriately. Were less self-conscious on facebook because the interactions happen over cyberspace and we cant see the physical response of the individual we are remitting. In such cases it is hard to lay emphasis on things that actually matter like getting to know each other and our differences; instead we spend our time barbarizing each other. When online people forget the term treat others how you would want to be treated they just act totally out of place. Ive seen good, nice people behave like jerks on facebook just because they feel invincible.

Fig 3: Cyber bullying

Mostly self image and self esteem are mistaken to be the same thing, even though they are closely related they are different.

Self Image

It is known as the mental picture which one has already in their minds about themselves or about how others view them. Wikipedia online defines it as the picture in ones mind that is hard to change, that represents not only details that are feasibly available to objective probe by others (height, weight, hair colour, etc.), but also personal experiences or by the judgments of others which also contributed in teaching the person about themselves or how they perceive themselves

What do you believe people think about you?

Self image can be seen from three different perspectives:

The first is an outcome of how the individual sees himself

The second results from how others actually see the individual

Lastly, this results from how the individual perceives others see him.

Sometimes these perspectives might not be the truth about an individual and at times all three can be accurate. Self image is a very important part of anyones life because it has a huge impact on how we live and relate with others. Poor self-image is mostly as a result of so much negativity of criticisms one has heard about themselves either from childhood or even as grownups. Children and teenagers mostly fall victims of poor self-image because they are still very vulnerable and prone to believe anything people say about them, mostly because they are not very mature to evaluate those things said and able build a good self-esteem on their own. There are some set of people who naturally have this feeling of unworthiness they are easily exposed to exhibit a poor self-image.

Poor self-image can arise mostly from the type of personality one has or exhibits. When evaluating others the level of self-esteem of the evaluator comes into play because it is most likely that they will present their judgement based on how they feel about themselves.

When individuals evaluate someone, they are less likely to evaluate that person negatively if their self-images had been strengthened through a self-affirmation procedure, and vice-versa they are likely to evaluate that person stereotypically if their self-images have been intimidated by negative feedback Fein, S., & Spencer, S.J. (1997. Individuals may restore their self-esteem by disparaging the member of a stereotyped group Florack, A., Scarabis, M., & Gosejohann, S. (2005)

Our self image can be greatly affected by what we see or hear about ourselves.

Fig. 4: Self image

I believe Social networks are a form of an illusion which allows people to live in a fantasy and are allowed to exaggerate on anything they deem fit.

Self Esteem

This Reflects on the total emotional appraisal of an individual on his worth. It is a way one judges himself or the attitude with which one views himself; it circumscribes ones belief of ones self {for example, am I worthy, and am I adequate} it swirls up deep emotions such as elation, depression, hate, pride and embarrassment (John P. 2009).

The self-concept is what we think about self; self-esteem is the positive and negative evaluations of our self and our feelings towards it (E.R. Smith/D. M. Mackie, Social Psychology 2007). Self-esteem is closely related to self consciousness; it explains the self judgemental side of an individual which appends worthiness feelings, discouragement and closely related feelings.

Self esteem has very little to do with how others view the individual it is mainly ones self-judgement of their appetency. It can also be seen as self confidence or self respect, it is a very important and delicate part of our existence because it affects even the life changing decisions we make, helps us face challenges in life, it even broadens our understanding on solving problems. It also gives us a sense to our right to be happy and respected.

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Self-esteem is being hurt when individuals feel inconsistent with the happenings of the world or they feel centred in a way of not being able to meet up to standards, or even feelings that they are being closely watched and scrutinised for one reason or the other. It is closely related to our well being psychologically so it is to be treated with carefulness as a delicate part of us. Self worth, self respect, self integrity and self regard are all synonyms associated with self esteem.

It is an opinion of how people see themselves, for example personally I consider myself a good person and I feel particularly good about it, now that is my self esteem it is my opinion about myself but if everyone around me thinks differently and constantly points out how bad of a person I am, eventually these thoughts will begin to seem true to me and that is the same way facebook affects our self esteem and messes our mind up.

Everyone no matter how perfect they seem face lack of confidence in some instances, but some people just have a very low opinion of themselves with this constant feeling of being inadequate, so they are very sad and unsatisfied with themselves almost all the time, and its difficult though not impossible to change this mindset so it causes anxiety and depression to the individual. Having a high self esteem is healthy because it boosts ones likeness for their selves thereby making it easy to set and accomplish certain goals.

Fig 5: Self esteem

There are certain traits which an individual with low self esteem portrays which are very evident, below are the most common.

Always ignoring their positive or good qualities

Exorbitantly critical about themselves.

Always uses contravening words to describe themselves. E.g. Ugly, fat, foolish, etc.

They always indulge in negative self talk which curtails them talking bad about themselves to themselves.

Hardly believes in compliments, sometimes might even misunderstand it and think theyre being made fun of instead.

Always blames themselves for everything that goes wrong, even uncontrollable forces or actions of people

Never takes credit for their accomplishments, instead believes luck plays a huge role in it.

Self esteems main problems occurs when individuals compares themselves with others, it causes a deep frustration and also when they dont get more comments or likes as they feel they deserve or even try to compare it to that of their friends through. This can cause serious strife and unnecessary envy amongst friends or even family members.




This chapter of my research study is focused on the research methodology which was used in this project, as well as identifying and sampling the population involved. The research hypothesis and framework were developed in this chapter, also the methods that were used in distributing and collecting the questionnaire will also be discussed. Furthermore it explains the methods used to conduct the research elements of the study, so it stretches out to discuss the research design, the purpose for the research, subjects and material tools and steps taken. The scope of the study will be identified here. I will specify the sources of my information, the technique of research, and the methodology of sampling.

Type of Research

This research is an applied one made with an effort to expand my knowledge and any other researcher in the field of social networks and most especially its effects. It will also serve as a fundamental for future research by scholars in that particular field.

Purpose of the research

This study is an analytical research which seeks out to explain how these social networking sites work and the long lasting effects it has on us. This research is expository also as it can help users of facebook aware of the damage it can create for them, t


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