Learn about the Untold Truth of Instagram in this Story
- Instagram is an American photo and video sharing social networking service founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and later acquired by American company Facebook Inc., now known as Meta Platforms.
- The app allows users to upload media that can be edited with filters and organised by hashtags and geographical tagging. Posts can be shared publicly or with pre-approved followers.
Instagram Original Features and Subsequent Changes
- Users can browse other users’ content by tag and location, view trending content, like photos, and follow other users to add their content to a personal feed. Instagram was originally distinguished by allowing content to be framed only in a square (1:1) aspect ratio of 640 pixels to match the display width of the iPhone at the time.
- In 2015, this restriction was eased with an increase to 1080 pixels. It also added messaging features, the ability to include multiple images or videos in a single post, and a Stories feature—similar to its main competitor Snapchat—which allowed users to post their content to a sequential feed, with each post accessible to others for 24 hours.
Instagram Subscribers and Acquisition
- As of January 2019, Stories is used by 500 million people daily. Originally launched for iOS in October 2010, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year, and 1 billion by June 2018.
- In April 2012, Facebook Inc. acquired the service for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. The Android version was released in April 2012, followed by a feature-limited desktop interface in November 2012, a Fire OS app in June 2014, and an app for Windows 10 in October 2016.
The Truth of Reality of Instagram Video 1
Instagram Criticism and Impact on People
As of October 2015, over 40 billion photos had been uploaded. Although often admired for its success and influence, Instagram has also been criticised for negatively affecting teens’ mental health, its policy and interface changes, its alleged censorship, and illegal and inappropriate content uploaded by users.
Khodarahimi & Fathi 2017 found evidence for Instagram users displaying higher levels of depressive symptoms. Frison & Eggermont 2017 pointed out that only Instagram browsing, and not Instagram liking nor posting, predicts more depressive symptoms.It also provides evidence for a relation between Instagram use and depressive symptomatology in the opposite direction, where level of depressed mood has shown to positively predict Instagram posting.
Lamp et al. 2019 showed a positive relationship between depression and the number of selfies taken before posting it on Instagram.What’s more, more frequent Instagram use has negative associations for people who follow more strangers, but positive associations for people who follow fewer strangers, with social comparison and depressive symptoms.
Anxiety and Stress
- Khodarahimi & Fathi 2017 observed higher levels of anxiety in Instagram users compared to non-users, while Mackson et al. 2019 suggested beneficial effects of Instagram use on anxiety symptoms.
- Multiple studies pointed out small to moderate positive relationships between time spent on Instagram and Trait anxiety, Physical appearance anxiety, social anxiety and attention to high insecurity-eliciting body regions.
- Moujaes & Verrier 2020 observed a connection between anxiety and online engagement with InstaMums, which relationship was influenced by social comparison orientation and self-esteem.
- Stress – A paper showed that users who feel that they spend too much time on Instagram report higher levels of “addiction” (collocial) to Instagram, which in turn was related to higher self-reported levels of stress induced by the app.
Problematic Smartphone Use
In a study focusing on the relationship between various psychological needs and “addiction” (collocial) to Instagram by students, Foroughi et al. 2021 found that the desire for recognition and entertainment were predictors of students’ addiction to Instagram.
In addition, the study proved that addiction to Instagram negatively affects academic performance. Gezgin & Mihci 2020 quantified Turkish students’ Instagram use’s contribution to overall “smartphone addiction” and concluded that frequent Instagram usage correlates with “smartphone addiction”.
Harmful effect on Teenage girls’ Mental health
- Facebook has known for years that its Instagram app is harmful to a number of teenagers, according to research seen by The Wall Street Journal, but the company concealed the knowledge from lawmakers. One study found that introduction to celebrity and peer pictures expanded women’s negative mood.
- Internal Facebook presentations seen by the Journal in 2021 show that Instagram is toxic to a sizable percentage of its users, particularly teenage girls. More than 40% of Instagram’s users are under 23 years old.
- The presentations were seen by the company’s executives and the findings mentioned to Mark Zuckerberg in 2020, but when asked in March 2021 about Instagram’s effect on young people, Zuckerberg defended the company’s plan to launch an Instagram product for children under 13.
- When asked by senators for its internal findings on the impact of Instagram on youth mental health, Facebook sent a six-page letter but did not include the company’s research. The company told Forbes that its research is “kept confidential to promote frank and open dialogue and brainstorming internally.”
- In a blog post, Instagram said that the WSJ story “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light.” On September 27, 2021, weeks after the WSJ report was released, Facebook announced it had “paused” development of Instagram Kids, the Instagram product aimed at children.
- The company stated it was looking into concerns raised by the regulators and parents. Adam Mosseri stated that the company would return to the project as “[t]he reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”
Satisfaction with Appearance
The Truth of Reality of Instagram Video 2
- Sherlock & Wagstaff 2019 showed that both the number of followers and followees show a small positive relationship with trait anxiety. Instagram users report higher body surveillance, appearance related pressure, eating pathology and lower body satisfaction than non-users.
- Multiple studies have shown that users who take more selfies (before posting) and strategically present themselves on Instagram, for example by editing or manipulating selfies, report higher levels of body surveillance, body dissatisfaction, and lower body esteem.
- Tiggemann et al. 2020 also confirmed this through experimental study, finding that taking and editing selfies led to higher facial dissatisfaction.
In a 2021 study Mun & Kim pointed out that Instagram users with a strong need for approval were more likely to create false presentation of themselves on their Instagram accounts, which in turn increased the likelihood of depression. Notably, depression was mitigated by the perception of popularity.
- Multiple studies confirmed that Instagram usage is associated with body surveillance and body self-image.
- In particular, following appearance-focused Instagrammers corresponded with the desire to look thin. Comments related to appearance on Instagram are leading to higher dissatisfactions with one’s body.
- Based on Facebook’s leaked internal research, Instagram has negative effects on the body image of one in three teenagers.
- Leaked internal documents also indicate that two thirds of teen girls and 40 percent of teen boys experience negative social comparison, and that Instagram makes 20 percent of the teens feel worse about themselves.
- According to the leaked research, Instagram has higher impact on appearance comparison than TikTok or Snapchat.
The Reality (Perils ) of Social Media
Loneliness & Social Exclusion
- Mackson et al. 2019 found that Instagram users were less lonely than non-users and that Instagram membership predicts lower self-reported loneliness.
- Social exclusion – In a 2021 study by Büttnera et Rudertb pointed out that not being tagged in an Instagram photo triggers the feeling of social exclusion and ostracism, especially for those with higher needs to belong.
- The relationship between Instagram usage intensity and wellbeing varies by wellbeing indicator. Brailovskaia & Margraf 2018 found a significant positive relationship between Instagram membership and extraversion, life satisfaction, and social support.
- The association between Instagram membership and conscientiousness was marginally significantly negative. The same study showed a positive relationship between extraversion, life satisfaction, social support and Instagram membership.
- Life satisfaction Fioravanti et al. 2020 showed that women who had to take a break from Instagram for seven days reported higher life satisfaction compared to women who continued their habitual pattern of Instagram use. The effects seemed to be specific for women, where no significant differences were observed for men.
Alcohol and Drug Use
- Instagram usage intensity shows a small positive correlation with alcohol consumption, with binge drinkers reporting greater intensity of Instagram use than non-binge drinkers.
- An earlier study examined the relationship between alcohol consumption during college. It found a small to moderate positive relationship between alcohol consumption and Instagram usage, enhanced drinking motives, and Drinking Behaviour.
Fear of Missing Out
The relationship between Instagram use and the fear of missing out (FOMO) has been confirmed in multiple studies. Use intensity shows a strong, while the number of followers and followees shows a weak correlation with FOMO. Research shows that Instagram browsing predicts social comparison, which generates FOMO, and FOMO can ultimately lead to depression.
- A comparison of Instagram users with non-users showed that boys with an Instagram account differ from boys without an account in terms of over-evaluation of their shape and weight, skipping meals, and levels of reported disordered eating cognitions.
- Girls with an Instagram account also differed from girls without an account in terms of skipping meals. However, none of the other associations that were reported for boys were observed for girls. Instead, girls with an Instagram account differed from girls without an account in that they used a stricter exercise schedule.
- This suggests a possible differential effect of Instagram membership on body (dis)satisfaction and disordered eating for boys and girls.
- Regarding the relationship between time spent on Instagram and body image and/or disordered eating, several body-related constructs were consistently linked to indicators of Instagram use.
- More specifically, several studies identified a small positive relationship between time spent on Instagram and both internalisation of beauty ideals or muscular ideals, and self-objectification across studies.
- A positive link has been pointed out between the intensity of Instagram use and both body surveillance and dietary behaviours or disordered eating.
- Sharenting refers to the action of parents posting content, including images, about their children online. Instagram is one of the most popular social media channels for sharenting.
- The hashtag letthembelittle contains 8 million images related to children on Instagram. Bare 2020 analysed 300 randomly selected, publicly available images under the hashtag and found that the corresponding images tended to contain personal information of children, including name, age and location.
Suicide and Self-Harm
- Picardo et al. 2020 examined the relationship between self-harm posts and actual self-harm behaviours offline and found such content had negative emotional effects on some users and reported preliminary evidence of potential harmful effects in relation to self-harm related behaviours offline, although causal effects cannot be claimed.
- At the same time, some benefits for those who engage with self-harm content online have been suggested. Instagram has published content to help users in need to get support.
- Based on Facebook’s leaked internal research, 13 percent of British teenager users with suicidal thoughts could trace these thoughts to Instagram use. Amongst teenagers in the US with suicidal thoughts, this number is much smaller – 6 percent.
- Starting in June 2020, Instagram was more widely used as a platform for social justice movements including the Black Lives Matter movement.
- This has changed how people address activism, created a lack of consistency in protest, and is not widely accepted.Most notably in 2020, Shirien Damra shared an illustration and tribute she made of George Floyd after his murder, and it resulted in more than 3.4 million “likes”, followed by many offline reproductions of the illustration.
- Instagram-based activism (as well as other social media) has been criticised and dismissed for being performative, reductionist, and overly focused on aesthetics.