Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image

A Common Sense Research Brief
January 21, 2015

Our review of research on the links between body image and media examines the role of both traditional media (movies, TV, magazines, ads) as well as newer forms of interactive, online, digital and social media. We find that body image begins to develop at a very young age and that multiple factors -- especially parents, some media, and peers -- are influential. Body-image issues are widely prevalent, and societal norms around appearance and weight depicted in kids' media are gendered, stereotypical, and unrealistic. Kids' consumption of mainstream media puts them at risk of developing unhealthy approaches to their bodies. Research on social media and body image is in its infancy but suggests these new media can present both positive and negative environments for self- and body esteem. Our report uncovers large gaps in research on body image and media. Several groups -- young children, boys, kids of color, LGBTQ youth -- are not well-studied, longitudinal and ethnographic methods are rare, and research on online, digital media has yet to keep pace with the explosion in their use by kids and teens. 

Download the full report at the link above, or see highlights and practical tips for parents in our infographic.