How is Pinterest Affecting Women’s Psyches?

betterThe number of people who engage with social media in the United States is impressive. And, the amount of time we spend with social media is extraordinary, which means that as a culture, we are fully invested in these new and emerging media. But that investment is not without risk. Problems with cyberbullying are well documented, and some states have responded to this issue by passing legislation in an attempt to curtail such behavior. However, psychological issues regarding the relationship between, for example, the use of Facebook and depression or the impact of Pinterest on self-esteem are only now beginning to emerge.

When it comes to all of the major social network sites—Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, women are impacted even more than men. According to the Pew Research Center, when it comes to Pinterest, “Women are about five times as likely to be on the site as men, the largest difference in gender” among popular social networking sites. So how is the percentage of women and the amount of time they spend engaged with social media affecting their psychological well-being? Does the time spent on SNSs, as well as the intensity of the experience, contribute to anxiety, depression or lowered self-esteem?

Research is now beginning to address these issues, and there is much work to be done. What I have set out to do is conduct a study of the ways in which women who use Pinterest look comparatively up (I want to be like her), look down (I’m better than her) or laterally (I am like her) at the idealized images they see on Pinboards.

This is where you can help: I have created an online survey that I hope readers will complete. Please click on the survey link to participate: http://bit.ly/1boY4cU

Additionally, you can help us learn about the impact of social media on users’ psychology. Copy and paste this link into your own social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), to pass on the opportunity to contribute to others. In future posts, I will share the results of this research, and I will provide some direction for policies and best practices.

Neil Alperstein, PhD
Director, MA in Emerging Media
Loyola University Maryland
nalperstein@loyola.edu
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