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Instagram fuels both body-image issues and social connections, teen girls say | CBC News

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CBC News spoke with teenage girls who acknowledged Instagram can exacerbate body-image issues but can also play an important role in connecting with others and sharing information on significant world events.

Teen girls say Instagram lets them connect with peers and share experiences, but reportedly, according to research, about one-third of them also said that, when they felt bad about their bodies, the photo-focused app made them feel worse. (Sergey Causelove/Shutterstock)

For 17-year-old Toronto student Scarlett Pourmartin, Instagram has been a bit of a mixed bag. It has provided the opportunity to be part of a larger social network, exchange information and share experiences with her peers.

But it’s had some drawbacks, significantly when it comes to self image and comparing herself to others — models like Kylie Jenner, who post their glam shots to be seen by millions of followers.

“I feel unworthy. I just don’t feel great. I don’t feel pretty. I don’t feel right. I don’t feel like I’m up to the beauty standard that women kind of have to uphold,” she said.

“Sometimes I feel depressed about it. I definitely went through a phase where I was unhappy with my body because I was on social media so much.”

Facebook conducted studies

Pourmartin is among many teenagers who struggle with body image when comparing themselves to others on Instagram. Indeed, Facebook, which owns Instagram, has discovered this through its own research, according to the Wall Street Journal. Company documents, obtained by the Journal, reveal that for the past three years, Facebook conducted studies into how Instagram affects its millions of young users.

It found Instagram can be harmful for a significant number of users, in particular teenage girls. According to the research about one-third of teen girls said that, when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. Research also showed that the peer pressure generated by the image-focused Instagram led in some cases to eating disorders and suicidal thoughts.

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Scarlett Pourmartin is among many teenagers who struggle with body image when comparing themselves to others on Instagram (Courtesy Scarlett Pourmartin)

Pourmartin says it’s not just comparing body images — pictures of others engaging in fun social activity can also affect her mood.

“It just makes me compare my life to others and just think that their life is way better than mine, or way more perfect,” she said. “It definitely makes me not feel good, sometimes even depressed about it.”

Even for someone like Hannah Alper, 18, a Canadian social activist with nearly 13,000 followers, Instagram can exacerbate her insecurities.

‘Impossible to not compare yourself’

“I’ve had insecure body issues since I was really young. I’m really short. So that has kind of played into the mix of that and looking at other girls and it’s kind of impossible to not compare yourself to other people,” she said. 

“Then that translates into us not feeling good about our bodies, about how we look.”

Alper acknowledges that pictures posted on Instagram are of people presenting themselves in their best light.

“A lot of people on Instagram, including myself, we only post the highlights that’s going on in or lives. When people see all of these people’s lives with the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect everything — you can’t almost not feel a sense of jealousy, sadness.”

Still she says, for the most part, Instagram has been a big positive in her life; that she’s been using it since the start of her activism to talk about issues she’s passionate about, to connect with people across the world and learn from them. 

But she also believes it’s important, once in a while, to step back from Instagram.

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“Sometimes it’s important to take a break, take a breather, come back to the real world, go for a walk, don’t be on your phone for a little bit,” she said.

A few weeks ago, 15-year-old Toronto student Megan Fedorchuk took a permanent breather and gave up her Instagram account.

“I just kind of realized I was talking about and communicating and obsessing and comparing over something that quite literally doesn’t exist,” she said.

Kylie Jenner arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2018, in New York. Models like Jenner post their glam shots on Instagram to be seen by millions of followers. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“Even the people who seem to be demonstrating some form of authentic, realistic representation, who seem to have it all together, it’s all a facade, like it’s all a fine-tuned image.”

She said she feels “markedly better” since quitting the app, that she’s seen a “drastic difference” in her attention span and is being more mindful about the media she consumes.

Katherine Tucker, a 17-year-old student from Dundas, Ont., says she realizes she spends way too much time on Instagram.

“I’m on it at school, at class, at home, at night, in the morning. I’m on it all the time,” she said. “It’s totally an addiction.”

She said her friends often talk about wishing they lived in a pre-Instagram era, yet still, none will give it up. 

Megan Fedorchuk says she feels ‘markedly better’ since quitting the app, that she’s seen a ‘drastic difference’ in her attention span and is being more mindful about the media she consumes. ( Helen Tansey)

“You don’t want to be the first one to give it up. You want to be doing what everyone else is doing.”

There are benefits of Instagram, she said. While it provides a social media circle, it also plays an important role in information consumption, learning about different events and social movements around the world, she said.

‘Body image is a huge thing’

But then, on the flip side, I would definitely say it does have a negative impact on not just me, but my friends. Body image is a huge thing already with teens,” she said.

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Tucker says even though she’s aware that some images may be manipulated, it still can impact her self-image.

“I know what’s going on, I know, well, she’s posing, it’s the angle, she’s sucking in, it’s Photoshop. I know in my mind,” she said.

“It still affects you. Next time you look in the mirror, you’re thinking of that picture.”

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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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.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

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.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

2. Buffer

BufferCredit: 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.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: 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.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: 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.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: 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.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

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.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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