You’re happily scrolling through your Instagram feed when you see a photo of all your friends posing cutely at the beach. You initially smile at their cute bathing suits and playful poses, but after a couple seconds you realize something is missing from the photo, and it’s you.
Throughout the day, teens check their Instagram feed constantly, checking how many likes they’re getting, looking if anyone new has followed them, and seeing how their feed looks. Many teenagers have an Instagram account because Instagram gives teens a place to show what is going on in their lives and to post cute, creative photos and videos. However, while Instagram is a creative outlet, it is also a cause of stress for many teens. As a teenage girl who has an Instagram account, I’ve experienced firsthand how stressful Instagram can be at times.
Constantly seeing what others are doing and getting to see their beautiful photos can be fun, but when you are not getting as many likes as other people might be getting, you can feel intimidated and less popular. Many teenagers find themselves so intimidated that they buy followers and likes so that they can fit in with everyone.
It’s also very stressful when you post a photo and it’s not getting as many likes as your usual posts get. How many likes you get on a photo can be like a popularity contest. It makes you feel less popular and scared that you aren’t posting as nice of photos as others may be when you’re not getting as many likes as others. Many people in that situation find themselves wondering whether or not they should delete the photo that’s not getting many likes so that others won’t see that they’re not as popular as they are.
Another stressful part of Instagram is a user’s feed, which is a collection of a person’s photos on his or her profile sorted from newest to oldest. Most people want their feed to all go together, so people try to only post photos that will match their feeds. When you can only post pictures that match your feed and our constantly wondering if your feed matches, it ends up causing stress as well.
Instagram can also cause teens to feel left out of different social events. Although it’s usually nice to see other people’s photos, it can feel bad when you see a photo with a bunch of your friends having fun at a event that you were not invited to. It can leave you feeling left out and lonely.
According to a Nov. 20, 2014 CNN article called “Teen ‘like’ and ‘FOMO’ anxiety,” most teens do not actually realize that social media is are putting stress on to them, until asked a series of questions that proved that social media was giving them anxiety. When the teens were interviewed it became clear that though they likes Instagram and found it fun, without even knowing it they were feeling lots of stress from the social media.
Although Instagram is a very fun social media to use and look at, it does end up causing anxiety and stress for most teens who use it. Likes, feeds, and feeling left out when not invited to a social event can bring many teenagers insecurity.
I encourage all teens who use Instagram to care less about how many likes or followers they have and to post pictures not on how they look with your feed but on how much you like them and want to share them with others.
Instagram should be a place of creativity and not a place of insecurity and stress, so check your Instagram less than you usually do in a day, post what you love, and remember to try to not care about likes and followers. It’s not the end of the world if your feed doesn’t match, or if you don’t get as many likes as other people do. You have enough stress in your life with trying to balance school, extracurricular activities, family life, and your social life, so do yourself a favor and cut back on your Instagram use and focus more on what really matters.