Girls and young women who upload sexy pictures on their social networking sites are looked upon as less attractive and competent by other women, a new study finds.

The world of social media has rapidly become a dominant part of our daily lives. Sharing opinions, changing statuses and of course, uploading pictures are now the norm. So how do our interactions and activities over social media affect our lives? In more ways than you're aware of!

A new study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University found that girls and young women who upload sexy pictures on their social networking sites are looked upon as less attractive and competent by other women.

"This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos," said researcher Elizabeth Daniels, lead author of the study, in a press statement. "There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive."

For the study, researchers created two fake Facebook profiles of a fictitious 20-year-old girl named Amanda Johnson. Both profiles mentioned the same likes and dislikes of Amanda including "Twilight", "Lady Gaga" and "The Notebook." The only difference in the two accounts was its profile pictures. One profile had sexy pictures of Amanda while the other didn't.

In one of the sexy pictures, she is wearing a low-cut red dress with a mid-thigh slit and a visible garter belt. In the non-sexy photo, she's wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a scarf draped around her neck, covering her chest.

Researchers then assigned study participants including 58 teen girls and 60 young adults either one of the profiles to look at and rate according to physical attractiveness, social attractiveness and task competence.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the participants rated the non-sexy picture higher in all three areas. This means they thought Amanda was prettier, a better friend and more competent when dressed un-sexily.

The researchers point out that these findings highlight the need for youngsters to understand the implications of their social networking activities and how it may influence others' perception of them.

"We really need to help youth understand this is a very public forum," she said. "Why is it we focus so heavily on girls' appearances? What does this tell us about gender? Those conversations should be part of everyday life."

Though this study highlights the negatives of uploading sexy and revealing pictures, there's also a positive. Girls often find themselves in a no-win situation when it comes to social media. If they post sexy pictures, they're criticized by their peers for being too sensual. However, if they don't, they fail to make a place in the "cool" group.

It is a known fact that people are conditioned to project only their best, albeit unrealistic, selves on social media profiles as a modern way of virtually keeping up with the Joneses. Regardless of whether they realize it, they spend a great deal of time and effort on the creation of their digital identity.  When the effort is not appreciated, depression sets it. In fact, a 2013 study highlighted that extensive Facebook use leads to a decline in happiness.

Here's a few ways in which people can prevent social media from getting the better of them.

  • Take the time to unplug from technology and social media accounts everyday.
  • When faced with social media-induced self-loathing, confront your negative thoughts and question their origin and validity.
  • If you're drawn to social media during times of boredom, ensure you have something to distract yourself, such as a book or fun phone app.

The current study was published online in the journal "Psychology of Popular Media Culture."