Use of Instagram strengthens closeness of adolescents’ friendships

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With onslaught of social media platforms over the last few years it is all but natural for scientists to look into the effect of these platforms on the daily lives of people using them. While there are many who have criticized the constant use of social platforms to stay connected and have linked these platforms to a number of issues including depression, jealousy, stress among others, there are studies that have put forward their positive impacts.

One such study has been carried out by a researcher at the University of Leuven who found that use of Instagram strengthens closeness of adolescents’ friendships. The study investigated the relationships between Flemish adolescents’ social networking site use and their well-being. For the study, adolescent participants filled out paper-and-pencil surveys between 6 month periods. The surveys asked students about their use of social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, and their well-being (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, loneliness).

Data analysis revealed that frequent use of Instagram at one point was related to greater depression six months later. However, using Instagram at one point was also related to increased closeness to friends (perception that they are appreciated and loved by their friends) six months later, which in turn was related to lower levels of depression.

There have been studies that have investigated the impact of social platforms in people’s well-being, there have been no studies that have investigated the longitudinal relationship between Instagram use and well-being in an adolescent sample – this being the first to examine the role of adolescents’ closeness to friends in this relationship.

“This age group may be particularly at risk for the impact of Instagram, given the increasing popularity of Instagram in adolescence and given the increase of depressive symptoms during this stage of life,” said Frison. “This study offers practitioners greater insight into the outcomes of adolescents’ Instagram use. More specifically, using Instagram can be both beneficial and harmful for adolescents’ well-being. If using Instagram stimulates adolescents’ closeness to friends, it is beneficial in the long run, but if Instagram is not capable of that stimulation, it is harmful in the long run.”