A diary study investigating the differential impacts of Instagram content on youths’ body image

Hannah C. Glaser, Sikke R. Jansma, Hanneke Scholten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Through social media like Instagram, users are constantly exposed to “perfect” lives and thin-ideal bodies. Research in this field has predominantly focused on the time youth spend on Instagram and the effects on their body image, oftentimes uncovering negative effects. Little research has been done on the root of the influence: the consumed content itself. Hence, this study aims to qualitatively uncover the types of content that trigger youths’ body image. Using a diary study, 28 youth (Mage = 21.86; 79% female) reported 140 influential body image Instagram posts over five days, uncovering trigger points and providing their motivations, emotions, and impacts on body image. Based on these posts, four content categories were distinguished: Thin Ideal, Body Positivity, Fitness, and Lifestyle. These different content types seemed to trigger different emotions regarding body image, and gender distinctions in content could be noticed. The study increased youths’ awareness of Instagram’s influence on their mood and body perception. The findings imply that the discussion about the effects of social media on body image should be nuanced, taking into account different types of content and users. Using this information, future interventions could focus on the conscious use of social media rather than merely limiting its use.
Original languageEnglish
Article number458
Number of pages13
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Volume11
Early online date28 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 28 Mar 2024

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