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Student Research Guide WQ23/ Instagram and Impact on Teens

By Aracely Diaz-Sanchez

What is this Guide for?


Instagram Is Impacting Teens

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


  • What is your focused thesis? 

The research thesis is focused on Instagram's impact on the lives of teens, which has led teens to experience body image issues, eating disorders, mental health issues like depression, social addiction, and cyberbullying.

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

The research questions intend to answer are: What are the dangers of Instagram? What can be done to prevent or even limit the harm of Instagram?



Since Instagram's release on the app store in 2010, there has been an apparent rise in issues among teens, affecting the well-being of teen users. This research paper was proposed to investigate the harmful effects teens face while using the social media networking site Instagram. A wide variety of sources, like the Pew Research Center, Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar, and PubMed journals, have been compiled that focus on the harm of Instagram. The results revealed that Instagram is harming teens in many ways by being a popular platform that is easily accessible. It is available as a weapon to cyberbully and spread lies, rumors, and hateful comments. It also leads teens to feel dissatisfied with their own selves, feel a disconnect from relationships, and feel feelings of depression and anxiety. Researchers should focus on the implications of how teens are impacted by the use of filtered and manipulated photos.

Background Information

Instagram is an online social network service that allows users to post photographs and videos in a way that allows users to be expressive and creative while also allowing them to connect with many others via the Internet. As of 2022, Instagram had a total of over 2 billion monthly users (Britannica). Seeing how Instagram is now easily accessible, it has been made clear that Instagram is impacting the lives of teens, which has led teens to experience body image issues, mental health issues like depression, social addiction, a lack of long-lasting relationships, and a rise in cyberbullying.

Body Image:

  • One of the negative impacts Instagram has made apparent in recent years is the sudden rise in teens' feeling negative about their body image and a decrease in a person's self-esteem. The major issue appears to be most prevalent in adolescent girls, but it appears to affect a wide range of users of various ages from all over the world, as witnessed by teens ages 12–20 in the United Kingdom (Jones). As the social media platform is picture-based, the app is full of pictures to self-compare.
  • To add to the problem, Instagram has a feature called "filters," with which users can manipulate their photos; some filters can vary, but the ones that seem to be harmful are the ones that distort physical features and manipulate the photo entirely, which in turn leads to unrealistic beauty standards that are unattainable. Teens exposed to filters are influenced by them and compare themselves to the point of actually seeking to look for and achieve filter features.

Mental Health:

  • In recent years, one of the many negative impacts has been a rise in mental health concerns among teens. For example, self-comparisons have caused teens to feel dissatisfied with themselves and their bodies to the point of facing depression and furthering its symptoms.
  • Anxiety has been found to be linked with the overuse of social media networks like Instagram. (Bozzola.) Elena Bozzola, who works in the Department of Pediatrics in Italy, conducted a study that found "Social media increased use correlates to emergency department visits for mental illness, including depression, addiction, and anxiety." (Bozzola). Anxiety is an issue many teens are facing, as is suicide, which is the most detrimental impact of the overuse of Instagram.
  • With suicide as the second-leading cause of death among teens, a spike has been seen with the increase in social media use. With an increase in suicide, there has also been an increase in self-harm content focused on harming oneself, such as cutting oneself with graphic pictures of blood or scars, which has been triggering for users suffering from and recovering from mental health issues. 


  • According to the Pew Research Center, which conducts research and opinion polling, a survey conducted in 2021 found that four in ten Americans say they use the social media platform Instagram. And the survey’s findings reported that among younger users aged 18-29 who were surveyed, it was found that 73% used the platform, with a total of 53% using it several times a day (Pew Research Center). With teens using Instagram multiple times a day, there has been a concern about the overuse of Instagram and the impact it has on teens. For example, teens spending hours on the platform can be detrimental in the way it interferes with everyday life, leading to procrastination, delaying certain tasks, as well as low academic performance.
  • With a dependency on Instagram, it is leading teens to form bad habits that are damaging their emotional responses from an overload of information, which in turn is causing emotional fatigue and, in other words, leaving them feeling drained. According to the findings by Silvia Sanz-Blas, a professor at the University of Valencia, "An addictive behavior, in turn, may result in users losing control of their social media usage, being completely absorbed by that activity and ultimately, suffering disorders in their daily life.( Sanz,155). Ultimately, the impacts of Instagram addictions are harmful and need to be prevented by limiting time on the platform.


Bullying in the United States has been on the rise, even more now with today's society and Instagram. At the touch of a button, cyberbullying has emerged, in which bullying is easily accessible among teens. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2022 found that 46% of U.S. teens aged 13–17 reported experiencing cyberbullying, with older teen girls facing more cyberbullying online than boys. Cyberbullying isn’t limited to teens in the USA but occurs worldwide. In a study conducted by the anti-bullying organization "Ditch the Label," which surveyed 10,000 adults from ages 12 to 20 in the United Kingdom, the organization found that 54 percent said they had been bullied, while 17 percent said they had experienced cyberbullying. Of those who had been cyberbullied, 42 percent had faced it on Instagram. (Jones). The survey showed that Instagram is a platform well known for being used for cyberbullying and that it is common and on the rise. With the platform being easily accessible to bullies, it is easy to become a victim of bullying as well as to become a bully.


  • Another impact caused by Instagram that is harmful to teens is that it is impacting romantic relationships and creating what is called "relationship dissatisfaction" that is caused from comparing one relationship to one that is seen online and is "picture perfect".
  • In an article on Medical News Today, a website for medical information and news, it stated, "During a 2021 study, researchers used Instagram and the app’s time-tracking capability to learn more about the connection between social media and relationship satisfaction. They found an increase in Instagram usage led to a decrease in relationship satisfaction and an increase in conflict and negative outcomes." (Johnson)  





Video, Graph, or Image


The video "5 Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health" by Practical Inspiration is about the harm social media has to offer with platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and how people can fall into the hands of scammers, experience cyberbullying, and get depressed.


Practical Inspiration. “5 NEGATIVE EFFECTS of SOCIAL MEDIA on MENTAL HEALTH.” YouTube, 21 Aug. 2019, 

All Content CC-BY.