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Correlation of Instagram Usage and Self Esteem

2836 words (11 pages) Essay in Psychology

08/02/20 Psychology Reference this

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Instagram is a social media site that allows you to share personal photos or videos of oneself and one’s life. It is a new digital age way of keeping up with friends and family and allows an individual to have immediate interaction with some via likes and comments. Although this is an amazing step in technology for that instantaneous connection, using this social app daily might be correlated to mental health issues in adolescents and young adults. Which will lead to extreme social problems in today’s generation. The purpose of this study is to determine and analyze the correlation social media use have with mental health issues specifically self-esteem. This will be a correlational survey design that uses the Rosenberg self-esteem test, a modified Instagram addiction test, and the average use of Instagram to show the relationship between Instagram use and self-esteem. The results of this study are to be determined; however, the researcher expects there to be a significant correlation with the amount of social media use and an individual’s level of self-esteem.

Introduction/ Literature Review

Social Media

As of 2016, there was an estimated around 196 million people in the U.S who used social media, while this number is projected to reach 216 million by 2021 (Zhang et. 2018). The evolution on how people shared their personal lives virtually and interacted with friends changed all within the past two decades as social media platforms continuously hit the market. During the early years when social media started to emerge and expand, platforms such as Myspace and LinkedIn were the predicters that gave life to the activity of creating a profile and interacting frequently with other users. According to (Varghese & Pistole 2017), “In the digital age, almost all college students access the internet regularly, with 86% of students communicating and sharing information on social network sites”. This quote is to reference why the basis of the study participants are college students. More than 50 percent of the users of social networking sites are in school or has the 18-24 age range. Social network is a part of new technology and being as though millennials and z generation users were born through the emergence of that era majority of them will be the primary users. Pantic (2014) is an article that weighs in on social networks and mental health issues. It outlines the possible effects of social networks such as cyberbullying and how an individual’s behavior on such networking sites can impact them outside of the virtual world.

Instagram has become increasingly popular lately and Barry et. (2019) research shows the correlation between narcissism and Instagram posts. Their study looks at how individuals may view themselves based on the number of self-photos individuals may upload to Instagram. Although their findings were not consistent with similar studies. It relates to this study because the idea that self-awareness is now being assessed through photo uploads and the amount of positive feedback that is being mentioned. Using social media is arguably one of the top leisure pastimes that the general population indulges in. Today, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the top three most used social platforms (Brailovskaia & Margraf 2018). Applications, websites, and blogs are all instruments that provide the necessary tools for interacting with other people through shared information. Social media has been the go-to place for individuals to share their lives with people all over the world. Technology today has made it more efficient and easier to bond and share each other lives just from one post. This phenomenon has extreme benefits and disadvantages. A major disadvantage of social media is the psychological effects it can have on adolescents such as self-awareness.  A similar study Brailovskaia & Margraf (2016) did an experiment testing Facebook users and its non-users and how the type of user compare to personality traits. This is a similar study because it recognizes a general idea of how social media has an impact on an individual.

Self- awareness

Self-assessments an individual give oneself is based on their self-esteem and how they would rate their personality. This assessment can be an outlook, of their physical body, or how they may think the world perceive them. Self-esteem is the confidence an individual has in him or herself and the confidence they have in their abilities.  It is all opinion based on how what they think of themselves, and could at times be skewed with a variety of influences such as their community, peers, economic status, age, gender, personality etc. These influences weigh in and often assist an individual with their self-evaluations.

The main outlooks of self-esteem people usually connect with are high and low self- esteem. Research has been done to determine what are the factors that result in low self-esteem and what factors go into determining a person has self-esteem. High self-esteem connects with the idea that an individual can leave their live in a glass, meaning everyone will see their weaknesses, failures, strengths, and accomplishments, yet they will be able to go on and not let the judgements of others tear them down nor interfere with who they are. With that same situation, an individual who has low self-esteem will not be able to live like that because of the criticism they may receive from other individuals may tear them down and cause loathing feelings for them self; based on the fact that individuals with low self-esteem try so hard to please other individuals and lack confidence in themselves. Costin & Vignoles (2019) studied people’s differences in their meaning of Life. This study was important because it outlines the point hat not everyone thinks the same, however their meaning of life relates to how centered the self is. Without a level self-awareness, the judgement people get from living will way heavier than those individuals who has a more leveled self-awareness.

This study looks at the relationship between Instagram usage and an individual’s self-esteem. Its main purpose it to find that correlation of how technology can be a controlling factor of how self-awareness is perceived. It is relevant and important because of how innovative society is, in which technology is going to become a greater factor in everyone lives. It also shows the relevancy of the psychological problems social media might cause people if the correlation is detected.



For this research study, the recruitment process for finding participants will be through internet ads, word of mouth, and fliers posted throughout different college campuses and schools. Participants will be voluntary and there will be no compensation for the completion of the experimental study. For this study the participants included males and females targeting the age range of 14-25. This age range is significant to the researcher because this is typically the ages of the individuals who are actively involved on Instagram. These are the people who are either born into the digital age or those whom grew up used to it.


The measures that will be used are the Rosenburg self-esteem scale, Modified Internet addiction test, and the researchers will tally the average time that is being spent on via the participants smartphones. Questionnaires will be sent out to those who have agreed to participate in the study after they have read and signed the consent form. The questionnaires will have the two tests, a section where the participant can add their demographics, and a section where they can input the average time, they spend on the Instagram application. Being as though this is an online questionnaire, participants will be brief as to how important is it that they share accurate answers to the surveys, and to be honest about the number that is totaled on their smartphone regarding time spent on Instagram’s social media app.

The Rosenburg self-esteem Scale

The Rosenberg Self-esteem scale is a measure the indicates a low, high, or moderate level of self-esteem. This scale is primarily to test the level of self-esteem the participant may have based on and in comparison, to the Instagram addiction test and their time spent on Instagram.

Instagram Addiction Test

The internet addiction test is a modified test that will test the individual’s addiction to Instagram. Kircaburun & Griffiths (2018) used an old Facebook addiction test in which the researchers of this study replaced the term, “Internet” with “Instagram”. Almenaye, Andreassen, & Salem (2016) used the original Facebook addiction test, to test participants addiction to Facebook and how it has a positive relationship of leading to mental health issues. The researchers adapted the modification mechanism to test participants Instagram addiction. This test will determine how much the individual is addicted to Instagram and will play a significant role in whether their self-esteem is affected by their amount of Instagram usage.

Time Spent on Instagram

For this measure the researchers will just input a section on the questionnaire that will allow the participant to input the number of averaged time spent on Instagram. It will have instructions of how to locate that number for iPhones and androids.


This research study is to show the correlation between an individual’s Instagram usage and their self-esteem. Once the participant agrees to be a part of the study, they will partake in a questionnaire that will have the combination of the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, Instagram modified addiction test, and the average amount of time the participants spend on the app. The questionnaires will be sent via a link in an email to those who have completed the consent form and agreed to go forward with the study. The manipulation that will be used in the study stems from the participants just wondering if they are addicted to the Instagram app. They will not know until after they have taken the entire questionnaire, during their debriefing page, that they have been manipulated and instead the test is a correlational study testing Instagram usage and self-esteem. It is there to make sure no participants are answering questions based on what they want their score to be. Participants will also be notified that these scores are completely anonymous, and their names will not be attached to any of the information that is provided for the study


Results are to be determined.


The results will indicate that social media does have a significant correlation with the participants self-esteem and their time spent using the Instagram application. The main message people will get from this message will be the interpretation of the results and how they should make changes to their daily lives to see if they may benefit from more or less Instagram usage.

Strengths and Limitations

A limitation of this study is the design being a survey and questionnaire research study. The researchers will analyze data gathered from the questionnaires that will include the Rosenberg self-esteem test, Instagram addiction survey, and the participants average time spent on Instagram in order to show the correlation of self-esteem and Instagram usage. The study might be better if it were more of an experimental study which would allow for a control group and experiment group testing participants before and after effects from either withdrawing or spending majority of their free time on Instagram. A controlled experimental design could possibly show more extensive results of the correlation between self esteem and Instagram by comparing the results of the individuals in the control group who will not be expose to social media. The results from the comparison of the control and experimental group will be significant because the researchers will be able to identify any confounding variables that correlates to high or low levels of self-esteem. One of the main strengths that will come from this study is the information of how Instagram or social media sites similar to Instagram can correlate to a shift in their self-awareness because of maybe the comparing of their lives with others on the app. This possibility can lead to lower levels of self-esteem because individuals are seemingly feeling sorry or discouraged because someone has physical features, they may want to see in themselves or they may see that an individuals life seem more extravagant and they may want to live like that as well. 

Future Directions

To improve this research study there should be a study that examines the differences in the use of Instagram and its effects between genders. People use social media because of different reasons and mostly there are difference in the interest of males and females. It will be a more important study showcasing the depth of the mental health effects from Instagram with different genders. Another way to make this research study more generalized between social media apps will be to replicate this study testing participants usage of all the most popular social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram and comparing the results to see if they are the same. These social sites allow people to edit their lives and share what makes them look well, which is not a bad thing at all because individuals should be able to publicly share what they want and keep parts of their lives separate. However, it becomes an issue when young men and women look at other people lives and compare it to their own. Most people do not post their struggles, failures, or insecurities and looking at others as if life is perfection and theirs is not contributes to symptoms and factors that lead to mental health problems such as self-esteem, depression etc. These studies are important because it will outline an issue in society that will lead to scientists and leaders to be able to come up with preventative measures to stop social media in becoming a gateway to mental health issues.


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