The “Facebook Effect” has been well-documented over the last decade– the more time one spends on Facebook, the more likely one is to feel depressed. However, Instagram makes Facebook look well-rounded. Glossy, bright, carefree– no one mopes, rants, or stands on soapboxes on Instagram.
The Instagram Effect, then, is the Facebook Effect taken to extremes. The incentives to look glamorous and perfect on Instagram are real: popularity, instant validation, and money. That’s right– some users even get paid to post pictures of themselves wearing a certain outfits or using certain products. Endorsements are not reserved for celebrities anymore. These “professional” Instagrammers are simply ordinary people who have gathered a large following on social media. They can be paid hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per post. With such high stakes, it’s no wonder everyone, especially young people, is a little obsessed.
For those of us on the other side of the screen, scrolling through so many glossy photos can skew our perception of our life, our relationships, and our success. Tweens and teens are particularly vulnerable to this Instagram Effect. Among Generation Z, social media is used as status symbol and a weapon. While it may be mildly depressing to scroll through a friend’s vacation photos, it really stings to log on and see photos of a (seemingly) fabulous party to which you were not invited.
How can parents help teens keep perspective? An open dialogue is vital. Here are some pieces to kick it off:
“My So-Called (Instagram) Life” by Clara Dollar– A Modern Love article published in The New York Times describing how one young woman’s focus on creating her personal brand on social media led to the sacrifice of her authenticity.
An Australian Instagram model with over 600,000 followers edited the captions on old social media posts to provide the less glamorous backstory. She now advises those who see posts, “Be aware of what people promote… Ask yourself, what’s their intention behind the photo?
Dove’s Self-Esteem project focused on helping young women love their bodies despite the toxic comparisons facilitated by social media.
How do you help your kids avoid the Instagram Effect? Share your ideas in the comments!
Keep up with your kids online!