Levels of Using Instagram and Its Effect on Young Adults Body Image

Published: 2021-09-13 08:25:08
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Category: Communication, Media

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Young adults are a highly absorbent bunch that are aware of their surroundings and are more prone to comparing themselves to others. As a young adult myself, I find that there are constant comparisons made daily about my attitudes, personality, style, and overall the way that I carry myself. Although I am aware of the consequences of the comparisons I make daily, I am sure others are not as aware. One of the main things that I find myself comparing in particular is my body. Before the introduction of easily accessible technology through the use of smartphones, television shows, magazines, movies, and many other media outlets were the sources that young adults and all age groups would use to understand the standard of beauty within their society. In our society today, the amount of sources have increased due to higher use and easier accessibility to technology. According to the Pew Research Center (2016), seventy-seven percent of americans owned a smartphone. As a representative sample, that is a high amount of individuals that have access to online applications at their fingertips, one of these applications includes Instagram. To understand how easily accessible Instagram is, I suggest that it highly impacts the effect it has on how young adults view their body, both negatively and positively.
Significance and Background
The research presented is intended to bring awareness to how young adults view their own body image within our society today. Stressing the importance of how easily one can access an online application through the use of their smartphones it becomes a new norm in their everyday lives. Many individuals use Instagram without making a clear connection between the way they use it and how they use it to compare themselves to others. Young adults may just understand that Instagram is just a photo sharing application that people like and/or share content. I argue that Instagram does more than share information to many over the world, it shapes the way that people view themselves and one another. Using Instagram as the preferred social media application allows us to understand how modern technology has increased our awareness of body image. Instagram
Instagram is a photo and video sharing online application that allows users to follow whomever they please. On Instagram, individuals can like, share, watch live videos, and much more. Users have their own profiles that they share their photos and videos, having the choice of keeping their profile available for the public to view or on private for only their followers to view (Hu, Manikonda & Kanbhampati, 2014). Instagram’s official Info Center website (2018) states that there are over eight hundred million active users monthly.
Body Image
Body image refers to the way individuals think their bodies look like to themselves, according to psychiatrist Paul Schilder’s (1950) definition. Body image is shaped by many different aspects of everyday like that includes interactions with one another, judgements that individuals have heard, and different experiences. There are long lasting effects on how someone views themself (Lowery, Blanks, Sollenberer, Nipson, Befort, & Huser, 2005, p. 162). Body image relates to the mental health of individuals along with their physical well being (Dittmar, 2009, p. 2). Body image is a broad term but there are two sides of viewing one’s body, positively and/or negatively. According to research by Wood-Barcalolow, Tylka, and Augustus-Horvath (2010) there are four qualities that a person with a positive body image has. These four qualities include having a good view about your own body, accepting the body that you have, taking care and maintaining your body, and actively rejecting the way body image is being portrayed in different sources of media. The authors make a further note that those who have positive body image tend to use social media less and are overall satisfied with their appearance, have social support, participate in physical activity, and have a greater level of self-esteem (Wood-Barcalolow, Tylka, & Augustus-Horvath, 2010, p. 107).
Literature Review
Social media is a place on the internet where individuals are free to present themselves in any manner they choose to. Individuals are in charge of what they share on their profiles, allowing them to alter the way users view them. Seidman (2013) explains that those who use social media are constantly approving what they post to enhance their identity and share this created identity with their social media followers, which includes both family and friends. The amount of time that young adults spend on social media has an influence on “the social, emotional, and cognitive development of youth” (Roberts, Foehr, & Rideout, 2005). Specifically, social media sites has taken the place of face to face interactions and communications for many college students. According to Pempek, Yermolayeva, and Calvert (2009), individuals spend a generous amount of time interacting with different post. The issue here is that individuals can feel as though they are interacting with others but they are not actually physically interacting with an individual.
Presenting oneself on Social Media
Since individuals are able to present themselves in whichever fashion they would like, they are creating an unrealistic set of expectations for not only themselves but for their follows and anyone that comes across their posts. Leaving out the negative or not so positive parts of your life makes it seem as if there are no negative parts in this specific viewers life (Senft, 2013). Research done by Bohjalian (2017) suggest that sites like Instagram can act like a safe haven. This is because users can choose who they interact with and they do not have to explain their post if they do not feel like doing so. They can even post false information without anyone knowing their true identity, further contributing to setting unrealistic expectations if ones body posted does not correspond to the person claiming it as their own.

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