Fasting on social media benefits young women and girls, a Colorado study finds

Taking a break from social media—even a brief one—can have a powerful impact on young women’s self-esteem.

Researchers from Colorado College conducted a study of teenage girls and found that just three days without social media resulted in a significant improvement in body image.

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Of course, skipping your daily social media consumption isn’t easy.

“The girls were worried. They were having a hard time,” said Tomi-Ann Roberts, a psychology professor at Colorado College who conducted the study in girls between the ages of 10 and 19.

Kailani Aragon is a student in one of Robert’s classes where the research was discussed. Aragon was asked to track her own social media use and write about her experiences.


She said: “I tried. It’s definitely hard to hang up the phone. It really means putting social media away. But I do realize that that was the biggest issue in terms of my own self-esteem as a woman.”

Roberts said: “Statistically, we showed that the reason her body image improved was because her self-compassion improved. I can be more compassionate with myself when I’m not in constant comparison. Because the constant comparison will always be, ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough.’”

Student Elena Berg also tracked her social media use. She said: “I’m definitely worried about my generation. We are very dependent on looks now, and a lot of that comes from social media and influencers.”

Aragon added: “Realizing how much time I’ve put into social media. To the destruction of my self-confidence. It was a great realization for me.”

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Aragon and Berg say self-reflection prompted them to make changes. Removing apps and becoming more time conscious and how they interact with their devices.

“I’ve found that TikTok’s biggest motivation for me is looks, and I really realized after taking that break that I wasn’t feeling well,” Berg said.


“Keeping busy and hanging up the phone made me feel better and I saw it was worth it,” Aragon added.

According to Professor Roberts, fasting from social media can induce a form of hunger. Feelings of loneliness are real and should not be dismissed.

Professor Roberts concluded: “So one of the things that we think is really important about our media is that we get people to do it with other people.”

The study was conducted with 65 girls, all of whom were dancers between the ages of 10 and 19. Professor Roberts suggests that more research should be done to see if the positive effects of social media fasting last over time and what the effects of frequent fasting might be.

The study is linked from the National Institutes of Health website, see

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