Almost a fifth of young people who use social media have changed the way they look in a photo before posting it, research on “selfie culture” in Britain has shown.

A poll commissioned by The Diana Award found that 19% of 10-to-16-year-olds had done so, compared to just 8% of adults.

The YouGov findings were released to mark the charity’s #MyTrueSelfie campaign which encourages people to take an unfiltered, unaltered selfie and surround it with positive words or emojis via mytrueselfie.com.

Nearly a quarter of youngsters (24%) have taken more than 10 selfies to get the right one, compared to 12% of adults, while one in 10 youngsters have altered their appearance because of a selfie they have taken, compared to 7% of adults.

Some 71% of 10-to-16-year-olds who use social media believe it makes people think about how they look all of the time, as do 66% of adults, and 44% of youngsters said selfies make people less likely to be happy with the way they look.

The Diana Award warned that selfie culture is having a detrimental effect on children’s confidence.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who is supporting the campaign, said: “Being concerned with how we look is nothing new, we have always taken pictures and compared ourselves to others – what seems different today is that we are engaging with our self image in an almost obsessive and potentially unhealthy way.

“The process of taking dozens of photos, discarding the ones that aren’t right, then spending time editing and choosing filters, posting and then waiting for feedback from others – which may be disappointing – is in effect a cognitive exercise in poor body image and self esteem, yet it’s a process young people go though daily.

“We’ve got to the point that some people feel that they can’t live up to their selfies and this has to change.”

Young women take a selfie
(Ben Stevens/PA)

The launch of #MyTrueSelfie is part of The Diana Award’s year-long series of events celebrating kindness and compassion to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.