Description: Does Instagram present its users with a valid perspective on the world – on their world? Well, the answer to that question according to a lot of peer reviewed research and, apparently also according to internal research by Facebook, the owners of Instagram, is a clear NO. If you have not heard about or read any of this research, think for minute about why it might be that Instagram use is associated with a number of problems or issues, especially for teen-aged girls. Once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below that discusses some of this research and some of it possible implications.
Source: Facebook has known for a year and a half that Instagram is bad for teens despite claiming otherwise – here are the harms researchers have been documenting for years, Christia Spears Brown, The Conversation.
Date: September 16, 2021
Article Link: https://theconversation.com/facebook-has-known-for-a-year-and-a-half-that-instagram-is-bad-for-teens-despite-claiming-otherwise-here-are-the-harms-researchers-have-been-documenting-for-years-168043
Social comparison plays a central role both in teen development and in social functioning in general. The balance between upward (comparing yourself to those who are “better” than you) and downward (comparing the other way) social comparisons is important as it plays a huge role in building or deconstructing self esteem and self-image. Instagram, with its filters and other image tweakers riggs the comparison system so that almost all comparisons, even with peers, are turned into upward social comparisons. How do you feel about yourself when it seems that virtually everyone in your world is better than you? That is a big part of the Instagram experience. So, what to do? Certainly discussions about differences between appearance and reality are important but figuring out how to support more positive engagement with Instagram will likely involve more than just that and THAT is worth more thought!
Questions for Discussion:
- What doe Instagram do that other social media platforms do not do (as much of)?
- Who is responsible for the effects that Instagram seems to have?
- What can or should be considered in order to address these fairly consistent findings (if anything)?
References (Read Further):
Pew Research, (2018) Teens, Social Media and Technology 2018. Link
Weber, S., Messingschlager, T., & Stein, J. P. (2021). This is an Insta-vention! Exploring cognitive countermeasures to reduce negative consequences of social comparisons on Instagram. Media Psychology, 1-30. Link