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6 Ways Your Selfie Obsession Is Affecting Your Health

6 Ways Your Selfie Obsession Is Affecting Your Health

You’re probably one of three very distinct selfie personalities. You either detest them (you’d never take one, let alone post one on social media), you take so many selfies you give Kim K. a run for her money, or you swear you’re not that kind of person…but sometimes snap ’em on the sly.

Here are a handful of ways selfies actually affect your health by

  • They draw out your narcissistic side: We know it’s not called anti-social media, but posting too many selfies isn’t necessarily putting your best foot forward. In a 2014 Ohio State University study of 1,000 men, researchers found that guys who posted more selfies also ranked higher on scales of narcissism and psychopathy.
  • Selfies could seriously endanger you: While you’re busy perfecting your duck face, you might be putting yourself directly in harm’s way. Selfie-snappers have died—yes, died—pursuing the perfect pic atop tall buildings, hanging off bridges, and toeing the edges of cliffs.
  • They might—emphasis on “might”—put you at risk for lice: A Wisconsin pediatrician made waves when she hypothesized in a local news segment that an uptick of lice cases in her office over the last five years could be linked to selfies. A stretch? Maybe, but it’s not a totally outlandish proposal: The pose we make with friends to get both of us in the frame in a selfie—Usie?—does put heads in closer contact than usual. But there’s no solid evidence supporting this theory.
  • Selfies can distort your body image: All that obsessing over the perfect angle and lighting doesn’t seem to be doing adolescents any favors. Tween girls who shared the most selfies on social media were more likely to feel dissatisfied with their bodies and to idealize a conventionally thin standard of beauty, according to a 2015 study from a team of Australian researchers. They were also more likely to restrict their eating compared to girls who posted fewer selfies.
  • They can hurt your selfie-snapping elbow: Taking too many selfies can hurt—literally. Like any other overuse injury, abusing your appendages to snap the perfect pic can cause wear and tear. Apparently over-zealous selfie fans can fall victim to inflammation and irritation of the muscles and tendons around the elbow, resulting in pain similar to tennis elbow.
  • Silver lining: Selfies might make you happier: We can’t completely hate on the selfie: A small University of California Irvine study published in July 2016 tasked college students with a simple photo assignment. They were assigned to one of three groups and instructed to either take selfies, snap photos of something that made them happy, or take photos of something that would make a friend happy. Then, they sent their photo to a friend. Feelings of happiness and positivity increased in all three groups—and the selfie-takers even reported a little boost in confidence in their smiles over the three-week study period.

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