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Use of social networking sites and associations with skin tone dissatisfaction, sun exposure, and sun protection in a sample of Australian adolescents

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Objective: Previous research has indicated that greater exposure to traditional media (i.e. television, film, and print) predicted skin cancer risk factors in adolescents; however, the relationship between social media usage and these outcomes remains unexplored. We examined whether social networking site (SNS) usage, and the particular manner of this use, was associated with skin tone dissatisfaction, sun exposure and sun protection among Australian adolescents. We also explored sex differences in SNS usage related to tanning.

Method: A total of 1856 South Australian secondary school students completed the Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug 2014 survey. SNS usage related to tanning comprised posting pictures, posting text, viewing pictures, viewing text and liking or sharing posts.

Results: Adolescents spent 214.56 minutes, on average, per day using SNSs. Behaviours related to tanning that involved pictures (i.e. viewing pictures, posting pictures, and liking or sharing content) were significantly associated with more skin tone dissatisfaction, more sun exposure and less sun protection. Females performed all SNS-linked behaviours more frequently than did males, with the exception of posting text.

Conclusion: Australian adolescents spend a considerable amount of time using SNSs, and their behaviours related to tanning on these SNSs are significantly associated with skin cancer risk factors.
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Keywords: skin tone; social media; sunbathe; tanning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia 2: Cancer Council South Australia, Eastwood, Australia

Publication date: December 2, 2017

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