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94 - Highly-visual social media and internalizing symptoms in adolescence: The mediating role of body image concerns

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D.Marengo C.Longobardi M.A.Fabris M.Settanni


Highly-visual social media, such as Instagram and Snapchat, are popular in adolescence.

  • We investigated use of highly-visual social media (HVSM) in adolescents.
  • Use of HVSM was more frequent than the use of Facebook.
  • Frequent use of HVSM was related to body image concerns and internalizing symptoms.
  • Body imaged concerns mediated the link between HVSM and internalizing symptoms.


Highly-visual social media (HVSM), such as Instagram and Snapchat, have experienced a significant increase in popularity among adolescents in recent years. Findings indicate use of social media is related to body image concerns and poorer mental health in adolescence. However, previous research on HVSM is scant and mainly focus on female samples. In this view, the present study investigated the association between time spent on HVSM, body image concerns and internalizing symptoms, in sample of adolescents attending grades 6–11 in Northern Italy. Data for this study were based on 523 students, 54.2% female; Mean age (SD) = 14.82 (1.52). Multiple linear regression was used to examine the associations between time spent using social media, body image concerns, and internalizing symptoms. Overall, students reporting using Facebook and HVSM for more than 2 h were 7.1% and 28.9% of the sample. Students reporting frequent use of HVSM (>2 h/day) reported significantly higher body image concerns and internalizing symptoms than peers reporting no use of HVSM. Further, we found the positive link between use of HVSM and internalizing symptoms to be mediated by participants’ body image concerns problems. These findings suggest that adolescents reporting high use of HVSM might be at risk for increased body image concerns, which in turn might lead to poorer psychological adjustment.

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