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Friends with Smartphones

Scoping Review

Published in Social Science and Medicine:

Engel, E., Gell, S., Heiss, R., & Karsay, K. (2023). Social media influencers and adolescents’ health: A scoping review of the research field. Social Science & Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116387

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Background:

  • Social Media Influencers (SMIs) as Adolescent Health Information Source:

    • SMIs crucial for adolescent health info, but challenges arise from limited expertise and commercial interests.

  • Scoping Review Objectives:

    • Synthesize existing research on SMIs and adolescent health.

    • Address challenges in understanding the role of SMIs.

  • Methodology:

    • PRISMA-ScR approach used for a comprehensive review

    • Eight databases searched and articles screened based on predefined criteria

  • Study Sample:

    • 51 articles from 2012 to 2022

​Key Findings:

  • Inconsistent definitions and classifications of SMIs. Thus, we developed an overview including the approaches to categorize and define SMIs (see publication, Figure 2).

  • Various health topics with three major categories including appearance, nutrition, and substance use.

  • Mental health, fitness, and sexual health were underrepresented.

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  • Negative focus:

    • Promotion of unrealistic body images, unhealthy diets, substance use, and inaccurate advice

    • The major challenge is inappropriate advertising of unhealthy products

  • Limitations:

    • Majority of studies conducted in the Global North

    • Underrepresentation of minority populations and male adolescents.

Recommendations:

  • Stricter regulation and improved health literacy

  • More attention to potential positive impact of SMIs and their effective inclusion in health campaigns.

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