Mind your time: The implications of prolonged Instagram use and drive for thinness in university students

Alexandra Ghiţă*, Teuntje Elfrink, Adriana Bülter, Svenja Gabriel, Marie Geise, Greta Grewe, Gerben Westerhof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective. The aim of the study was to explore the impact of prolonged versus limited Instagram use regarding drive for thinness (DFT) in university students. Method. 201 students, mainly from the University of Twente, participated in this study. The students completed a survey with emphasis on socio-demographic data, daily Instagram use, present or past mental health diagnoses, and Drive for Thinness (DFT) scale, which assesses concerns about the body shape or weight, diet, and fear of gaining weight. A cut-off score of 60 (daily) minutes was set for Instagram use (N<60 = 119 respondents, N≥60 = 82 respondents). Results. There was a significant group difference in DFT between students who engaged <60 minutes versus ≥60 minutes daily on Instagram. There was a positive correlation between DFT and prolonged daily Instagram use (≥60 minutes), but not in the group with limited Instagram use (<60 minutes). In addition, there were gender differences in DFT and Instagram use. On average, females engaged in approximately twice the amount of time on Instagram on a daily basis compared to males. Moreover, there was a significant relationship between DFT and Instagram use in females, but not in males. 18% of the respondents indicated a current or past mental health diagnosis, however there were no differences in DFT or daily Instagram use between respondents with or without a formal mental health condition. A simple regression analysis indicated that daily time spent on Instagram predicts DFT in university students. Conclusions. Drive for a thinner body is a major component in predicting the development of formal eating disorders. This study shows the importance of social media use in facilitating a strong desire to have a thinner body, particularly in female students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-77
Number of pages5
JournalAnnual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Drive for Thinness
  • Instagram use
  • Social Media
  • University Students


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