Instagram May Have A Negative Impact On Users

According to experts, Instagram could have detrimental effects on young adults’ mental health. © 2018 Brianna Langlois

Click the play button above to find out about some issues that may come along with using the popular social media app, Instagram. 

Audio transcript: MyStoryScript

By Brianna Langlois SYRACUSE, N.Y. (N.C.C. News) — It is ranked as one of the top ten most popular social media apps. However, some experts say actively using Instagram can negatively impact young adults’ self-esteem.

Instagram is a social media app owned by Facebook where people can share photos and videos with their followers.

For some users, what was once a fun way to post pictures with an occasional filter, has become something of an obsession. According to experts, spending a lot of time on Instagram can actually be detrimental to young adults’ mental health.

Olivia Cole, a 20-year-old college student, agrees—she thinks Instagram can lower self-confidence. According to Cole, it is important to remember, what you see may not always be real.

“You know how when you’re thinking about posting an Instagram you stare at the picture for 25 minutes until you’re like, ‘Oh my God it’s so ugly.’ But everyone looks at it for half a second,” said Cole. “We are our own worst critics and social media only heightens that because you’re constantly putting yourself up against other people that just completely doctor their photos.”

Although many users do understand this concept, those “perfect” photos can still deeply affect them. This past summer, Cole decided to unfollow some people because she found herself constantly comparing herself to them. She chose to unfollow most celebrities and health and beauty bloggers with the exception of a few she actually cared about. After filtering her feed, she realized how obsessed she used to be with what other people thought of her.

“I always found myself itching to see what other people were posting and caring so much about how many likes I was getting versus other people. If I was out with my friends and we had taken similar pictures and I instagramed one and my friend instagramed a different one I would see who got the most likes, like this very weird competition. And I just found myself becoming self-absorbed and my world was so much smaller,” Cole said.

I have been using Instagram for over eight years and can definitely relate to this feeling. It’s hard not to wonder why my post may not have received as many likes as others did.

According to Rebecca Ortiz, Advertising Professor at Syracuse University, one way to learn about the effects of Instagram can be by looking at fashion magazines. According to Ortiz, one of the main differences between the two is Instagram consists of mostly real people, while magazines are filled with models.

“There’s a certain level of understanding that this is created by an organization, this is a supermodel, and unattainable, that kind of thing,” said Ortiz. “Whereas now Instagram is just ‘normal people’ and when you see normal people looking unrealistic, the perception of reality becomes confused.”

Despite these issues, Instagram still offers many positive aspects.

That’s why the app has over one billion active users, including myself. According to Ortiz, Instagram can help some people form connections that they otherwise may not have in their everyday life. It is a platform that allows people from all over the world to form relationships and bond over their similar interests.

“I think what’s beautiful about the ability to do that is that if your offline life you can’t find people to connect with, there is that place to go online and find those people and build connections in ways that you can’t in your offline life, so I think that can be really wonderful,” Ortiz said.

While the risk of people misrepresenting their lives on Instagram may lead to an unhealthy obsession with comparing oneself to others, Instagram still provides a great platform for people to form connections and unite.