In the age of social media, young girls are arguably more impressionable now than they have ever been before, largely thanks to constant internet access and the wide variety of content at their fingertips.
But recent research has highlighted the dangers of social media, and the negative impact it can have on the minds and self-esteem of young people.
In late 2020, Canadian company Edelman Data & Intelligence conducted a local survey in partnership with the Dove Self-Esteem Project, in which they spoke with 503 girls aged between 10 and 17.
They found that by the age of 13, 80 per cent of girls had downloaded a filter or used an app to distort the way they looked in photos, while 67 per cent tried to change or hide at least one feature before posting a photo of themselves.
During an already difficult transition from tween to teenager and primary school to high school, these girls are facing an uphill battle when it comes to expectations about their appearance and body shape, often comparing their lives to celebrities and famous personalities whose popularity, behaviour and looks are all validated by mass follows and likes.
Following more realistic role models can help
Another study conducted by Harvard University in 2017, in which 588 students at a public high school in the United States were surveyed, found that teenagers who were making negative comparisons between themselves and others online would find it helpful to be given regular reminders that people only typically post their life highlights.
But Australian social media expert Edwin Smith told the ABC that users can take a couple of steps further to take better control of the type of content they are exposed to in the first place.
“For all its flaws, social media and Instagram in particular use algorithms from trends in the way you use the app to work out what you want to see,” he said.
“So you can positively impact your feed by being strategic about whose posts you engage with, because the more likes and engagement you have with a particular account, the more you’ll see from them in your feed.
“On one hand, there seems to be a growing trend of people doing this and gravitating towards more authentic accounts, but there have also been developments in social technology that go against that and encourage people to use filters on Instagram stories that make their skin flawless or lips bigger.”
Female athletes could be the place to start
NSW Swifts co-captain and Aussie Diamonds squad member Maddy Proud has a strong link to this age group, given netball is one of the country’s most popular team sports.
As an athlete and author of children’s book Grace on the Court, she has built a following of close to 21,000 people on Instagram, and regularly interacts with young girls online and after matches on game day.
Now 27, Proud told the ABC there was a stark contrast in the way she and her peers used social media while growing up.
“It was so different back then, I didn’t even have a phone until I was in high school,” she said.
“I definitely see that side of things and when you see how much time young kids are spending on these online platforms now, it’s scary.
“The only comparisons I had when I was young was talking to friends about what they did on the weekend, but social media has expanded the influence that young kids get way outside immediate friends and family.”
During her 10 years playing at the top of her sport, Proud has received plenty of positive comments from parents about her leadership and role-model-like qualities.
But even she admits that she too has felt the pressure to portray a perfect version of herself online.
“Thanks to the speed and reach of the internet, we’re much more knowledgeable about what is happening around the world and that can lead to incredible learnings and opportunities,” she said.
“But if it gets into the wrong person’s hands too early in life, and they aren’t experienced enough to know what is real and what is fake, there are dangers of going down some deep rabbit holes when it comes to comparison.
“And as a netballer with a profile, once you get a few followers you can get caught up thinking, now is this the photo I really want to post, does something not look right?
“But I’m loving the recent trends that show Instagram vs reality and we have so many great people around us in netball and sport that you learn to only worry about the people’s opinions that actually matter.”
What makes them good role models?
Besides being well-rounded people that balance study and a career in sport, Proud believes female athletes — and in her case, netballers — provide a more balanced overview of life.
Dealing with failures and setbacks like match losses and injuries in the public eye, and embracing them as new challenges and learning experiences.
She believes sport also showcases examples of a range of body shapes and sizes, with a stronger emphasis on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“When it comes to body shape, we are strong and not necessarily women that are petite or that have curves in all the right places, because what we do is focus on making our bodies as functional as they can be so that they can work at their best,” she said.
“Even just seeing that we do lift weights and put effort into our fitness shifts the focus from physical appearance to playing sport with your mates and your well-being.
“When you’re playing sport, there are a lot of photos that fly around of you with very unattractive facial expressions, because you’re not focused on looking good, you’re giving everything you have in the moment to play well.
“If you have a look at mine, I’m sure in every single photo I’m sticking my tongue out or doing something ridiculous … so we are showcasing something online that is very real and that although everybody has flaws, we’re not going to let it stop us doing what we love.”
Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …
Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.
Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.
Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.
Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.
Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.
Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.
— Yash Joshi (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021
5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android
Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.
You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).
You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.
While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.
We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.
Credit: buffer / app store
Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.
Credit: preview / app store
Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.
Credit: content office / app store
An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.
Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.
Credit: plann / apple store
You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…
Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.
Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters
From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.
It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.
TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.
I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones
More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.
People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.
A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said: “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.
“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.
“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”