Modern technologies have transformed the lives of many people by introducing superior innovations and equipment that empower them to achieve their potential. Most of the systems existing today support different functions or activities, including healthcare delivery, transport, communication, marketing, manufacturing, and production. Social media is a technological innovation that has gained popularity within the past two decades.
Young people and professionals are currently using these inventions to interact with one another, exchange ideas, and pursue their economic aims. These practices have empowered many entrepreneurs and leaders to guide their followers and pursue their objectives diligently. Unfortunately, the continued use of social media applications, such as Instagram, has affected people negatively. This research paper utilizes past studies and publications to examine the potential impacts of Instagram on self-esteem. The discussion will present some evidence-based ideas that individuals can consider to overcome the outlined negative effects.
Thesis statement: Since individuals who use Instagram to share photos and follow their friends or colleagues on the platform will record decreased levels of self-esteem, there is a need for them to embrace social media cautiously if they are to achieve their potential.
Background and Significance
In 2000, the world entered a new technological era characterized by numerous innovations and computer-based applications. According to Seabrook, Kern, and Rickard (2016), the emergence and proliferation of social media networks and platforms were unprecedented during the period. Within the past decade, many young people below the age of 40 have made such applications integral parts of their lives (Seabrook et al., 2016). These individuals have been using some of the leading social networks to connect with the outside world, establish and build new relationships, exchange knowledge, and pursue their aims. Some of the leading social sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, and Whatsapp. Each of them has its unique target population and benefits that make it attractive to different users.
The number of individuals using social media to transform their lives for the better remains quite high. Majority of them communicate with their friends and colleagues, seek business ideas from professionals, and gather knowledge to improve their careers (Mierzwa & Jurjewicz, 2016). Unfortunately, a large percentage of such users rely on these platforms to network and engage in casual or romantic online relationships.
Others rely on Facebook and Instagram to monitor the behaviors, lifestyles, and experiences of both known and unknown users. Consequently, Paramboukis, Skues, and Wise (2016) observed that such pursuits or practices have affected the psychological, emotional, and social abilities of many young people. Mierzwa and Jurjewicz (2016) also revealed that social media networks were encouraging more individuals to engage in social comparisons. Most of the affected people failed to pursue their goals in life.
With this kind of understanding, a study focusing on Instagram and its connection with self-esteem can present evidence-based insights and ideas. The acquired knowledge from the completed research can guide many readers to appreciate the power of Instagram as a social media platform and how it affects psychological health (Kleemans, Daalmans, Carbaat, & Anschütz, 2018). Those who have become victims of different social networking sites will acquire new concepts and practices that can guide them to address most of the challenges they face. This means that the study is significant and capable of presenting evidence-based insights and concepts that more individuals can consider to improve their skills and continue to use social media platforms effectively.
Past studies have revealed that the continued use of Instagram and other social media platforms encourage people to view their friends’ profiles and photos. This kind of malpractice has been found to encourage users to start envying celebrities and other individuals (Hawi & Samaha, 2016). Those who appear successful or living better lives become a source of admiration or envy (Seabrook et al., 2016).
Kleemans et al. (2018) go further to indicate that many people are presently using Instagram to monitor what others are doing in their lives. The cues or insights gained from profiles and photos encourage them to make their opinions or judgments. This practice catalyzes a negative behavior of comparison. Those who have not made significant achievements in their lives will start to feel inferior. Others will be at risk of becoming ungrateful or disempowered.
Similar observations and findings have been made by other researchers. For example, Mierzwa and Jurjewicz (2016) indicated that individuals using Instagram and other social networking sites had a tendency of comparing themselves with others. Consequently, the majority of them felt worse after realizing that their friends and colleagues were leading better lives. This means that the affected individuals develop negative feelings about their well-being and even fail to pursue their aims in life. Researchers have considered this kind of malpractice to explain why many young individuals find it hard to pursue their careers or professional objectives.
The practice of making downward and upward comparisons with others is something that has become common within the past decade. Those who relate their experiences and lives with those of their colleagues become unthankful for their achievements (Paramboukis et al., 2016). The outcome is that the level of self-esteem is affected negatively. On the other hand, those who realize that they are successful tend to become boastful or arrogant. Such behaviors can eventually have negative consequences on their lives and affect the way they interact or relate with others.
The dysfunctional themes in messages and photos shared by users on Instagram have resulted in negative consequences. Many young women and girls have been observed to use social media to share their images with the outside world. Those who fail to get enough comments or likes will be dissatisfied with their bodies. Their self-esteem is also affected negatively. The consequence of this outcome is that many women have been forced to promote new lifestyles and eating habits that might put them at risk of anorexia and other disorders (Mierzwa & Jurjewicz, 2016). Those who are affected will continue to compare themselves with others and eventually be unable to concentrate on the most important things in their lives.
The use of Instagram encourages people to make assumptions and ideas about the experiences and lives of other people. When such suppositions appear to support the success or achievements of the identified users, chances are high that they will become depressed. A study by Jam, Soomro, and Ahmad (2017) indicated that increased levels of stress among users of social networking sites resulted in psychotic disorders, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
The issue of cyberbullying has also been identified as a major challenge facing many people who use different platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. This has been the case because many individuals will be exposed to indecent or inappropriate photos. Some might even realize with a shock that their pictures were uploaded by unknown users without their informed consent (Seabrook et al., 2016). These malpractices have continued to trigger negative psychological outcomes, including depression and reduced self-esteem.
People who record reduced self-esteem will encounter numerous challenges in life. For example, Paramboukis et al. (2016) believe that the affected individuals will be unable to record positive self-actualization and self-confidence abilities. They will also find it hard to communicate with their peers and colleagues in a positive manner. In extreme cases, the affected individuals might make unrealistic opinions or decisions in their lives. Some will pursue unattainable dreams, thereby becoming disoriented. Suicidal thoughts might also emerge as a major psychological problem that all affected Instagram users have to address.
Social media is one of the areas that have benefited significantly from modern technologies. Since it is impossible to prevent people from using various networking sites and apps, there is a need for different stakeholders to implement new programs and strategies to train users and ensure that they reap the most from then (Hawi & Samaha, 2016). Studies have also indicated that young people at a higher risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying and reduced self-esteem. Parents, teachers, and guardians should use their competencies to guide their children regarding self-confidence and the power of social media (Paramboukis et al., 2016).
They should also guide them to focus on their goals and life and avoid comparing themselves with others whenever they are relying on such platforms. Policymakers can also introduce superior frameworks and programs to ensure that people record positive achievements in their lives.
The above findings and observations have indicated that Instagram is one of the social networking sites that will have negative impacts on a person’s self-esteem. Those who are affected the most are the ones who compare themselves with their colleagues or other users. The outcome is that such victims will be unable to pursue their goals in life, develop bad eating habits, and grapple with suicidal thoughts. This understanding should guide policymakers and developers of social media platforms to introduce superior mechanisms to address this social challenge. Parents and guardians should be ready to guide and train their young ones to use social networking sites diligently and cautiously. The ultimate objective should be to ensure that all people achieve their dreams and succeed in life.
Hawi, N. S., & Samaha, M. (2016). The relations among social media addiction, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in university students. Social Science Computer Review, 35(5), 576-586. Web.
Jam, M., Soomro, S. A., & Ahmad, N. (2017). Impact of social media on self-esteem. European Scientific Journal, 13(23), 329-341. Web.
Kleemans, M., Daalmans, S., Carbaat, I., & Anschütz, D. (2018). Picture perfect: The direct effect of manipulated Instagram photos on body image in adolescent girls. Media Psychology, 21(1), 93-110. Web.
Mierzwa, J., & Jurjewicz, H. (2016). Does Facebook, Twitter, Instagram influence well‑being and self-esteem among early adolescents? Studia Socialia Cracoviensia, 8(14), 137-152. Web.
Paramboukis, O., Skues, J., & Wise, L. (2016). An exploratory study of the relationships between narcissism, self-esteem and Instagram use. Social Networking, 5(2), 82-92. Web.
Seabrook, E. M., Kern, M. L., & Rickard, N. S. (2016). Social networking sites, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review. JMIR Mental Health, 3(4), e50. Web.