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Student Research Guide WQ23/ Does Instagram have negative impacts on teenagers?

By Amanda Barnett

What is this Guide for?


Does Instagram have negative impacts on teenagers?

This is a student created research guide for English 102 & Library 201 Learning community

Some examples of the kind of language you will use in this section:

  • The purpose of this guide is to explore Instagram's negative and positive effects on teenagers.            

The research thesis is, "Instagram can cause many mental health issues like negative self-body image, teen suicide, and anxiety/stress". 

  • What are the specific research questions you intend to answer?

The research questions are... are girls affected more than boys? What can be done to help this problem become better? How can Instagram be used in a way that's less harmful? How does Instagram effect teenagers? 



The aim of this research is to find out the many negative effects of Instagram but to also find out ways to make the problems better. The problem is there are so many negative effects that teenagers are facing, and some can't figure out the source of what is creating these side effects, which is Instagram. Most of these effects come from Instagram. Such as lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, and bad academic performance. Lack of sleep happens because of the blue light that a phone emits. Depression happens because of cyber bullying or unrealistic life expectations. Anxiety happens because of being worried about what ones posts or the fear of not being accepted. Bad academic performance happens from the lack of sleep and the ability to not be able to focus. Negative self-body image happens from comparison of one body to another or continuously looking at touched up photos. One research question is, “Is Instagram actually harmful to teenagers?". The most important thing to do when writing a paper is finding many, valuable sources that can be used for the paper. There can be many sources found but there has to be some digging to find them. The databases that should be looked at to find good sources are CINAHL, Academic Search Complete, and ProQuest, and Elibrary.  There were also many academic journals found, they just have to be looked for and made sure they fit the topic. What was found was that there are multiple mental health problems that can occur from using Instagram anywhere from negative self-body image to feelings of suicide. The answer to the research question is yes; it is harmful to teenagers and can be very detrimental to their mental health. How this was found is because there have been studies done that proven that Instagram can cause these mental health issues.  A suggestion for further research is to see how much better people feel from taking breaks from Instagram or if there are ways that you can still be on Instagram but not experience the negative effects. There also is more room for more studies to be conducted, just so there is plenty of evidence. 


Background Information


The main issues from being on Instagram are depression, feelings of suicide, bad body image, and anxiety. Instagram is an app where you can share photos and videos. It was created on October 6th, 2010, by Kevin Systrom. He created this app because he loved photography and wanted to create an app where people could share their pictures and videos. There are 1.4 billion people that are users of Instagram. Almost 125 millions of those users are teens. In the United States 72% of teenagers use or have Instagram. That's over half of the teen population, this is a huge number of teenagers that are not only on social media, but on Instagram. Instagram is mostly used by people that are of the age from 13-19 also known as “teens”. Older generations use Facebook and that is “their Instagram” and main social media platform.  However, most teens use Instagram because society has made it seem like Facebook is for the older generations, so teens use Instagram instead. Instagram is one of the newest, most popular social media apps and there are many things that social media platforms are useful for. But on the flip side, there are many things that they are harmful to. There have been many studies on why Instagram is really harmful for teens. One reason being that a lot of Instagram if fake or photoshopped and people don't realize that. There are a lot of influencers on Instagram that post things that are photoshopped that can be very detrimental on young teens minds and mental health. 


This video addresses social media effects on the human brain. It is so easy to become addicted to things, and social media is a common addiction. 

The video below presents ideas around the influence and impact of social media on our daily lives/society. The presenter explains how harmful the addiction to social media can be.

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