Black N.C. A&T Educator Receives Grant To Study Social Media Influence On Black Women’s Health Habits
A Black N.C. A&T educator wants to determine how social media messaging about weight management affects the mental and physical health of Generation Z Black women.
The university announced that Kalynda C. Smith, an assistant professor in the Hairston College’s Department of Psychology, has received a four-year $545,686 grant to study how social media can influence the way Black women view themselves and, in turn trigger, unhealthy lifestyle habits.
The social psychology professor was entrusted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), to honor the grant entitled, “How Health and Weight Management Social Media Messages Targeting African American Women Impact Health Behaviors.”
“These women have been exposed to social media messages the majority of their lives, compared with older groups, but there is little research that examines how these messages influence their self-presentation, self-esteem, and health habits,” Smith said, per the press release.
The social media movement continuously promotes influencer lifestyles and European standards of beauty. This media over-exposure can negatively affect Black women’s body image and contribute to body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and more.
While research clearly shows that media exposure can impact Black women’s self-esteem and self-image, Smith wants to take her studies a step further.
African American adults are 60 percent more likely than white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“This study will address how social media can be used as a preventative measure to address chronic conditions, like diabetes, that disproportionately affect the Black/African American community in the United States,” Smith said.
Smith’s research will include participation from up to four Black psychology undergraduates and two students in the M.S. in health psychology program. They will engage in extensive mixed methods research training to help them advance into a career in psychology.