The ‘perfect life’ of Instagram

As part of my Major Project, I am focusing on two very popular social media apps: TikTok and Instagram. In this blog post I decided to take a look at Instagram, a social media app that has become part of my life just recently. Focusing on Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship helped me look at this app critically and have a better understanding of its behind the scenes.

  1. Digital Access: Instagram is an easy to access app. Anyone can look at someone’s Instagram without having an account of their own. There are certain limitations to Instagram without having an account, such as the ability to like or comment on a post, or like a comment, view stories and story highlights, follow an Instagram account, view a private account and use the mobile app.
  2. Digital commerce: Instagram users will encounter ads and photos promoting commercial brands. They can also make purchases via links embedded in stories. There are also people with several accounts using Instagram for building and promoting their business brands adding the geotag for easy accessibility. Startups can showcase their work to the audience as well. Instagram is an effective marketing strategy.
  3. Digital Communication and Collaboration: Instagram is a social media app giving the users the opportunity to express themselves through taking, editing and sharing photos and videos. The content of Instagram is made up of feeds, stories and IGTV channels, the later used for sharing collection of videos ranging between 15 seconds and 10 minutes. The stories are a series of photos or videos that will last for only 24 hours, then disappear. Instagram also provides the instant share feature across multiple platforms.
  4. Digital Etiquette: Just as TikTok users, Instagram users should also remember to be cautious how they present themselves in front of the world. Since this app has an option to comment on each other’s posts, this is when raising responsible digital citizens is crucial. Teaching people to THINK (Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?) before they post anything is the key. And the most important question would probably be “Is it true?” with all the special features that can make life look ‘just perfect’.
  5. Digital Fluency: Instagram being the worst social media for mental health, the users need to have the ability to differentiate reliable information from poor content. On the photo-based platform, where users have the ability to add filters and edit pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’, it is crucial not to believe everything we see in order to avoid psychological distress due to negative body image and anxiety. The article, Instagrammers reveal the difference between a posed body and a relaxed one, shared by Kalyn, brings to our attention not to believe everything we see.
  6. Digital Health and Welfare: Although there is an option to set a time limit, just as TikTok, Instagram can be very addictive. Instagram has been proven to have a lot higher impact on the users’ health and welfare due to the ‘perfect’ body, life or world that is depicted in the photos posted causing a high level of anxiety, depression, bullying, FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out’. As Kalyn highlighted, the popular trend involving health, fitness and nutritional advice called ‘fitspiration’ also known ‘fitspo’ not only works as inspiration. The unrealistic expectations cause feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, unworthiness leading to lack of self-esteem and mental health problems. Spending more than two hours a day on social networking sites can increase the users’ tendency to fall into the “compare and despair’ attitude. Thankfully, as Nataly mentioned, Instagram is now hiding likes counter, another element that can cause lack of self-esteem being based on the number of likes.
  7. Digital Law: Just as with TikTok, setting a private account is crucial to be able to avoid anybody being able to see the content. Cyberbullying and sexting can still be an issue in within the circle of youth.
  8. Digital Rights and Responsibility: Instagram users need to be aware of the fake accounts of people who are just trying to become famous with a fake life they created. ‘Finsta accounts‘ are also trending where users post their ‘less-edited’ lives. This tends to be the right platform for racy content and bullying. When it comes to raising digital citizens, it is crucial to teach youth to be critical thinkers and be able to identify potential problems as well as be brave to inform adults of problems they come across. This way they can protect themselves and others. 
  9. Digital Security and Privacy: It is important to teach our students to respect their privacy by creating a private account as well as being careful with the information they share through photos, videos and comments, since after posting photos, image theft and screenshots cannot be prevented.

Looking at Instagram through Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, I am certainly seeing this social media app from a different point of view. The more apps I examine, the stronger I feel about bringing social media into our classrooms and guide our students in becoming critical thinkers.

9 thoughts on “The ‘perfect life’ of Instagram

  1. Hi Melinda
    It was helpful to see your review of Instagram through the “filter” of Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of digital citizenship. After reading your review of how Instagram measures up, it feels like it has a more negative assessment than the positive attributes that Instagram provides. I wonder if we should weigh all 9 elements equally, or if one has more impact than others. For example, I would consider the element of digital communication and collaboration to be one of the best attributes for Instagram.
    We can also determine our news feed by selecting accounts that we choose to follow. It would be valuable to teach kids the options of not following accounts, and also the option to “mute” both feed photos and story videos from people they don’t want to unfollow.
    Once again it seems to come back to the idea of knowing how the social media apps work in addition to the pitfalls of the content/usage.
    Thanks for sharing this thought provoking post!

    • Thank you Nancy for sharing your thoughts. Not being very familiar with Instagram, I appreciate learning more about how you see this app. I think that the idea if we should weigh all 9 elements equally is a very interesting point.

  2. Thank you for sharing! This has helped me understand the nine elements of digital citizenship better.
    I find it very interesting but not shocking that Instagram has proven to not be good for mental health. I often get caught up in seeing celebs ‘perfect’ lives. I get very anxious to post anything and haven’t posted in a long time.
    Thank you for sharing your learning with us!

    • Thank you, Christina! I definitely feel the same thing is happening to Facebook. Sometimes the lives of others seem to be just way too perfect.

  3. Melinda it has been absolutely amazing to watch your journey through out the eci classes. Your blog is so well put together and so insightful. I sometimes think that Snapchat is worse (more of a unfounded belief that the pic is temporary) but the article you shared was really insightful. Here’s a non tik tok tiktok activity that might be interesting to look at Keep up the great work.

    • Dean,
      Thank you so much for your kind words, encouragement and all your support. Cannot wait to try this cool resource out!!!

  4. I like how you analyzed Instagram using Ribble’s Nine Elements. I was particularly intrigued by the information you provided on the IGTV Channels (something I’ve never heard of), the posed vs. relaxed body Instagram accounts shared by Kalyn, and Instagram hiding the “likes” counter. Very informative post!

  5. Melinda, thanks for using Ribble’s 9 elements as a lense for examining Instagram, this really helps me out, as you mentioned, we are both looking at it (or at least I hope to, depends how long the other ones take). I am very happy with your analysis! Thank you!

  6. I appreciated how you linked Instagram and TikTok to Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship. I like Instagram more than Facebook. It is nice to see the friends’ lovely photos and the beautiful places they have visited. But, I am really concerned about the power of influencers (on us and our kids) with thousands of followers. It was hard for me to figure out the authentic and credible ones. Therefore, I realized the importance of teaching our kids how to be critical thinkers and make better choices online. Thanks for sharing!

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