Internet Matters’ submission to call for evidence on the impact of body image on physical and mental health

In December 2021, the Health and Social Care Committee called for evidence on how body image impacts mental and physical health. Internet Matters’ submission focuses on how children and young people’s body image is affected through online mediums like social media and how that impacts their mental health.

Internet Matters and Dr Linda Papadopoulos worked together to produce this submission to the Health and Social Care Committee, which focuses on the areas with most relevance to our knowledge and expertise: the influence of digital technology on young people’s body image.

We were delighted to provide evidence for the Health and Social Care Committee on the impact of body image. Our key messages are:

  • An individual’s experiences in adolescence are pivotal in setting up how they perceive and feel about their body for the rest of their lives. It is important we get things right for young people at this point.
  • Negative body image is damaging in its own right, but can also lead to more serious problems including depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
  • Online platforms, especially social media, mean that young people are engaging more closely and more frequently with their own images than ever before in history, while also being subject to content (including adverts) that promotes unrealistic beauty standards. This can significantly amplify a young person’s negative thoughts about their appearance.
  • DHSC and its arms’ length bodies can play its part in solving this problem by working closely with DCMS and Ofcom to enhance the Online Safety Bill and Media Literacy Strategy.
Resources document

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