Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award


Exit Requirement

Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project


Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Ethan McMahan

Honors Program Director

Dr. Gavin Keulks


Social media has become a large part of the entertainment industry. A majority of adolescents report using social media on a daily basis. With such widespread use, it is important to examine the effects of such usage on mental health. Research has shown that there may be a link between social media usage and mental health complications, such as disordered eating behaviors and anxiety. However, past research has its limitations. Most studies analyze the effects of using older platforms, such as Facebook. Instagram is a newer platform and the largest photo sharing application to date. Little research has examined potential links between using Instagram and the user’s body esteem and disordered eating behaviors. In the current study, participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. The first condition, the control, had participants randomly assigned to watch a short three-minute video of someone browsing the internet. The experimental condition had participants watch a three-minute video of someone scrolling through an Instagram feed with public accounts. There were 12 participants, 9 females and 3 males. The majority of participants were white. Immediately following the viewing, participants answered a body esteem questionnaire. An independent t-test was conducted at the conclusion of the study. The participants who viewed the video of an Instagram feed reported higher levels of body esteem issues (M = 3.99, SD = .26) than those who viewed the THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE ON DISORDERED EATING BEHAVIORS 4 video of Internet browsing (M = 3.68, SD = .29). The mean differences between the two conditions failed to be significant, t(10) = 1.94, p < .081, r^2 = .27. Considering the large r value, a large effect size exists, but this study did not detect it due to the small sample size.