University of Twente Student Theses


#Triggerwarning: Body Image : A qualitative study on the influences of TikTok consumption on the Body Image of adolescents

Hülsing, G.M. (2021) #Triggerwarning: Body Image : A qualitative study on the influences of TikTok consumption on the Body Image of adolescents.

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Abstract:Objectives: Social media platforms are omnipresent and experience great popularity, especially among adolescents. While social networks provide many opportunities to connect with people around the globe they can also provoke harmful effects. Recent studies have found an alarming effect on the body image of adolescents based on the unattainable body standards on social media. As the landscape of social media is in constant change, the objective of this research was to investigate the influence of a relatively new social network, TikTok, on the body image of adolescents. Method: To achieve the state objective, a mixture of a questionnaire based on existing measures and semi-structured interviews was conducted among 16 German adolescents of the ages 16-21. To uncover the effects on body image TikTok usage, body appreciation and body disturbance were measured. Furthermore, social comparison was measured as a potential factor influencing the effect of TikTok usage on body image. Results: Three different influences of TikTok on the body image of adolescents were found in this study: negative influence, positive influence and no influence. Furthermore, the different outcomes were mostly based on the content consumed by the participants, indicating that body image sensitive content like fitness can lead to a negative influence, while body positive content was associated with positive effects. Social comparison plays an important role in how adolescents view their body image, as upward social comparison on TikTok has been found to harm the body image. TikTok often presents, similar to other appearance-based networks, unattainable body standards. This leads to a mainly thin-internalisation for females and a muscular ideal for males. However, among young women, there is a current shift to a curvy ideal or no ideal body at all, based on the body positivity spread on the platform. Conclusion: In conclusion, it was found that the influence TikTok has on body image is far more complex than expected. While previous studies indicate a mainly negative effect of social media on body image, this study found multiple directions in which TikTok can influence. These differences were mainly based on the content consumed on TikTok. Limitations and recommendations: This study adds to the theory as it is one of the first to explore the possible influences of TikTok on adolescent’s body image. Nonetheless, it involved a small sample size of 16 people, which could not yield any reliable results. Thus, it is strongly recommended to reproduce this study with a bigger sample size or to apply a more experimental research design to further investigate the influences of different contents on body image.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
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