Female Social Media Users Lack Confidence: Study

According to a new study, social media sites may be hindering how confidently young girls interact with others face-to-face.

A staggering 60% of girls using the internet agreed that they feel more confident when interacting with people online.

The research was commissioned by the Unilever’s beauty brand Dove. The findings of the research were released today, April 1.

It says lack of self-esteem among 11-17 year old girls prevents them from realising their full potential, with huge consequences for their personal and professional future. As Dove launches the 2012 campaign for Dove Self-Esteem Programme (DSEP), the extent of the issue has become clear, it believes.

Focusing on the UK, the study reveals the shocking impact of low self-esteem, with the business world looking set to suffer. If the status quo remains, it says, the UK could be deprived of 200,000 female business professionals and 42,000 successful female entrepreneurs by 2050.

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Britain’s sporting success will be hit badly too. Self and body-esteem issues could mean an estimated two to three potential female medalists drop out of sport and as a result, never step onto the winner’s podium in future games.

Low self-esteem affects how young girls feel about their future careers with only one in three feeling confident they will have a successful career in the future. This has a huge impact on the medical and legal professions with the potential number of female doctors and lawyers reducing by 17%. That’s a shortfall of 20,000 female lawyers and around 35,000 doctors by 2050, the Dove study warns.

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It says he shocking discontentment felt amongst young girls about their appearance is at the heart of the issue. Nearly half (45%) describe themselves as ‘average’ and ‘ordinary’ with a further 10% feeling ‘plain’, ‘unattractive’ and ‘ugly’.

As a brand that is dedicated to building positive self-esteem, Dove has developed the 2012 Campaign for Dove Self-Esteem Programme (DSEP) to make a real change to the way young girls perceive and embrace beauty.

Through the DSEP, Dove will be reaching out to young people in the UK through self-esteem workshops, which will be held in schools all over the country.

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Any Dove product bought between 26th March – 15th May 2012 will help to give a girl a self-esteem education. This will be delivered through a Dove donation of a minimum of GBP250,000 to BEAT (the UK’s leading charity for those affected by eating disorders) to deliver workshops in schools.

“We are passionate about our social mission and want to continue to help young girls and women develop a positive relationship with their bodies. We’ve already reached over 800,000 young people in the UK as part of our Dove Self-Esteem Programme and our aim is to reach 1 million by the end of 2012. We really hope to create a step change for self-esteem with our 2012 campaign,” said Ali Fisher, Dove marketing manager.

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Additional key statistics from Dove study include:

  • Low self-esteem could cost the nation (UK) 62 female MPs by 2050 if the issue of self-esteem amongst young girls continues
  • Mum featured top of the list (37%) as the most positive role model for young girls leapfrogging well-known celebrities such as Cheryl Cole (8%), Angelina Jolie (4%) and Kate Middleton (3%)
  • Young girls are spending more time on make-up, beauty treatments and clothing than they are on homework
  • Social media portals may be hindering how confidently young girls interact with others face-to-face. A staggering 60% of girls using the internet agree that they feel more confident when interacting with people online

The effect of self-esteem was worked out by research organisation The Future Foundation which devised a model based upon Dove survey findings to calculate the impact low self-esteem has on 11-17 year old girls now and in later life up to 2050 when they approach their 50s.

Some 500 11-17 year old were extensively interviewed for the report “Girls Self Esteem – Potential Consequences for the Future” which investigated a range of attitudes and behaviours surrounding self-image, personal care, relationships, future planning and future aspirations.

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Rakesh Raman