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Introduction:

Instead of working on this paper as I should be right now, I am scrolling through


Instagram. Its 11AM on a Monday and as I scroll I can already see 20 posts just this morning.
Although these posts vary, at least half of the post are naming someone as their man crush
Monday (#mcm.) This shows that even early on Monday mornings, people are posting photos as
they wake up, has this become a habit? As a user of Instagram, I view between one and two
hundred photos daily. I am biased on the topic of Instagram because I am a very active user. I
spend around an hour a day scrolling through other peoples posts. I would say, on average, I
post a photo every three days. It would be very hard for me to stay off of Instagram for a month,
as I am asking the interviewees to do. One of my main reasons for choosing Instagram is because
I want to know why I spend so much of my time on it. This project and my raw data observations
really opened my eyes to the amount of time and effort that my generation puts into social media,
particularly Instagram.
Instagram, a photo sharing app, began taking over the realm of social media on October
6th, 2010 and had more than one million users by December 12, 2010. Instagram was co-founded
by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, two Stanford University graduates. The user gets to chose
between a public and a private profile. Private meaning that only their followers can see and
interact with their posts. Public meaning that any user can see and interact with their posts. A
persons followers can like or comment on posts as they please. In December of 2013 a new
feature was added, Instagram Direct, which lets users privately message others. Eleven months
after Instagram launched, it reached ten million users. Today, it has over four hundred million
users. This goes to show how quickly Instagram grew into one of the most used social

networking sites in the world. Over forty billion photos have been shared since Instagram has
been launched and eighty million photos are posted daily.
This paper considers why teenagers spend hours upon hours posting (captioned) photos
from their lives to share with their followers. More specifically, I want to explore: 1) Why has
this app become so popular among the younger generations so quickly? 2) What are the positive
and negative impacts of social media on young users? And 3) Has Instagram become a habit
rather than an interest? I am going to conduct a study to answer all of these questions.

Entering the Conversation:


After taking a deeper look into Instagram, many of our questions are left unanswered.
Does Instagram have an impact on the way people view themselves? Is Instagram a source of
social media that is used for fun, or is it a habit (take a photo, post it on Instagram)? Now that
we have seen some of the impacts of Instagram, I will be developing a study to answer why users
are so attracted to an app on their phone.
This study will be comprised of two interviews and a challenge to not use Instagram; this
way we will see the broad view and we can find out about not only those who use Instagram
daily, but also about those who have accounts but do not use it as often. There will be six
different interview groups consisting of five people in each group, for a total of 30 participants.
The groups will be separated by those who post on Instagram daily, weekly, and monthly (or
less). These groups will range in age (13-60), amount of followers (0-2000) they have, and be
grouped according to males and females. I chose the age range because the minimum age is 13 to

be a user of Instagram and not many people over the age of 60 are users. I chose the amount of
followers to be 0-2000 because 0 is the minimum amount of followers and the average user does
not have over 2000 followers. The reasoning behind the separate groups for men and women are:
women are more susceptible to bullying, women are more likely to be affected by their amount
of likes and followers, and simply so we can compare the two genders. The participants will be
separated into groups of five, but each person will be interviewed separately so that their answers
will not be swayed by their group members answers. During the first interview each person will
be asked a series of ten questions listed below.
1. Do you like Instagram, why or why not?
2. Have you ever been bullied on Instagram (i.e. a mean or degrading comment on one of
your posts)? If so, how were you affected by what was said and do you think that if you
would have seen that person in public that they would have said it to your face or do you
think that they would only say it behind the protection of their screen?
3. How often do you post a photo on Instagram and how much time, on average, do you
spend looking at other peoples photos?
4. When do you use Instagram and is there a specific amount of time of day that you have
designated to spending scrolling through and/or posting on Instagram?
5. What would you say your average amount of likes is and how would you feel if this
number was cut in half on the next photo that you posted?
6. When you receive more likes than you normally get, how does this make you feel?
7. Would you say Instagram helps to boost your self-esteem?

8. Off the top of your head, do you know the most likes you have gotten on something that
you have posted?
9. Do you take photos with the intent of posting them on Instagram? If so, why? If not, do
you post them on another source of social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
10. Out of ten separate occasions that photos are taken at, how many of those would you say
you would post on your Instagram?
I will audio record the interviews during the process. After the interviews are over I will
transcribe the data. Then I will code the data to find common answers to make reviewing the data
easier.
After the first set of interviews are finished, the interviewer will challenge the interviewees to
not use Instagram for a month. I will check in with each interviewee weekly to make sure each
person is sticking to the challenge. Since there is no real way to monitor whether or not each
person is scrolling on Instagram, this will be based mostly on trusting that the Interviewees will
not cheat on this challenge. If they cannot make it the entire month without looking at the app,
we hope that they will let us know. After a month has passed, they will come back in for a
second interview. This time there will be five new questions.
The new set of questions will be as follows:
1. After not using Instagram for a month, did you miss it? If so, what did you miss about it?
2. Did you find yourself wanting to get on Instagram often? If so, what did you do instead?
3. Will you go back to using Instagram as much as you did before this study was conducted,
why or why not?

4. If you answered yes to does Instagram help boost your self-esteem, how did it make
you feel to not have that boost for a month? Did you find another way to boost your
confidence level?
5. Did you take less photos in the last month, or did you take the same amount and not post
them?
Just like the first interview, I will audio record the interviews during the process. After the
interviews are over I will transcribe the data. Then I will code the data to find common answers
to make reviewing the data easier.
After collecting these two sets of data from the thirty interviewees, we will have a better idea
of why people use Instagram, if it is something they are programmed to do, and how it affects
ones mindset. We will have a better idea as to whether Instagram really is shaping todays youth.
The mens answers will be compared to the womens answers to see if one gender is more
affected by the use of Instagram. Is looking at Instagram a habit and can it be broken simply by
the realization of this habit? This study will help to answer many of the worlds unanswered
questions about Instagram.

Literature Review:
When Instagram started, it was an instant hit with people everywhere. It quickly became
popular and in its first year running it was named Apples App of the year. It drew people not
only because of the photo aspect of it, but also because of the social aspect. (Sullivan, Lines
8-16) Every source of media has positive and negative sides. The majority of teenagers use

media every day, and they acquire many things through just looking at their screens. Image and
beauty standards are created through media and it can sometimes glorify negative behavior, but
media can help teenagers develop social skills (Mokeyane, 1-3). A woman, Alina saw a photo
that she took in 2008 and her first thought was to post it on Instagram. Times are so different
now than they were then because of social media. Before social media people took photos for no
reason. Now it seems like every time someone takes a photo, they do so with the intent to post it
on Instagram to share with all of their followers (Selyukh, Lines 10-12).
There are many unexplored aspects of Instagram. Some of these unexplored aspects are
the photo categories, the types of users, and their audience (followers). It was discovered that
there are eight categories of photos including: friends, food, captioned photos (embedded text),
pet, activity, selfie, and fashion. It was also discovered that there are five different types of
Instagram users which include: one who posts almost all self portraits, one who post mostly
photos with embedded text, one who posts slightly more photos of food, they also post in other
categories, one who post about their friends as much as they post about themselves, and one
other. These categories correspond with a persons entropy level (Hu, 3). When asked about
Instagram, many teens reply that it is a way to show yourself. People post photos about their
lives and add a caption to them. Grace says: I Instagram everything. (Graham Lines 10-11).
Do teenagers like social media that much?
According to a massive survey, one in three teens said they like social media. Meaning
that it is being seen as a utility instead of a luxury. Instagram and other social media devices are
not something todays youth loves to do but instead something that they feel as if they have to
do. Two of three students said they are multi-tasking while doing homework. Teenagers spend up

to nine hours a day using technology and it is shaping their lives (Steyer, Lines 1-15). This
makes teens way more susceptible to bullying. Bullying has moved from in person to online and
how it was increased dramatically. 95% of teenagers are online in America and are susceptible to
cyberbullying. Many cyber bullies do not even consider the possibility of being caught because
adults are ignoring it. Instagram is one of the places these researchers mention as a place where
cyberbullying often occurs (Hinduja, 3-5).
Social Media can be positive too. Tweens and teens engaging in social media are not just
posting a photo and calling it a day. They are interacting with each other, developing their
socialization and communication skills. Their artistic sides are being challenging and coming out
through taking the photos that they post. Social media can also help ones self-image (OKeefe,
Lines 1-10). The selfie is a new genre of art and photography. Selfies are widespread across
social media today. The point of a selfie is to be taken and seen quickly on social media. Almost
everyone you know has taken a selfie. This is one thing that we do now that could classify this
nation as a narcissistic one (Saltz, 2). Likes and followers have come prominent and relevant in
ones every day life, especially for young females. Likes have a way of making people feel better
about themselves. Nancy interviewed girls for two and a half years, she interviewed over 200
girls to get a good idea of what she was going to write her book about. Nancy states: "I think a
lot of people are not aware of how the atmosphere has really changed in social situations ... in
terms of how the girls are treated and how the boys behave," (Sales, Lines 14-15).
Social Media, particularly Instagram, is part of the new life style that young adults are
now living. The use of Instagram has turned into a habit. I scroll through Instagram when I am