Are Instagram Influencers really shaping the mind of our youth? Want to know how much of the decisions your kid makes are influenced by these Instagram Influencers? Well, then stick around because in this blog we will discuss the impact Instagram has had on youth and especially the sub culture of Instagram Influencers.
Technically social media may be defined as a smart device-based technology which allows people to share information, ideas and thoughts virtually and form a community on the basis of mutual interest. This may be technically true but to me social media is that montage of pictures and texts set to the coral cover of Radiohead’s’ hit song Creep, shown at the beginning of The Social Network trailer.
Instagram may initially be created as a platform to share visual media in the form of pictures and videos but to me personally Instagram, the world of aesthetics has always been about this pursuit of utmost perfection almost always out of reach. Instagram has a massive 2.35 billion audience as of 2023 and 71% of its users are people between the age of 18 to 29. On average a user spends 53 minutes per day on Instagram.
Impact of Instagram Influencers on Young Minds
Like all other social media apps and everything associated with the internet, Instagram has both positive and negative impacts, like a double-edged sword, it’s mainly up to the user on how they use it or in Instagrams’ case the online avatars of the people they follow. Instagram has really revolutionized industries, redefined careers (believe it or not in many capitalist societies being an Instagram model is a viable career) and business, created many subcultures. One of the cultures associated with Instagram is that of Influencer culture.
Are influencers really that new?
Influencers are old as time itself where in the past the power to influence was in the hands of a few selected people such as celebrities, warriors and politicians. The impact with which they could influence was somewhat hindered by the distance to reach them. Young mind is shaped by its surroundings and with today’s generation spending more and more time on these apps it is very clear that they are influenced by the avatars they follow on these platforms.
Relatability is a necessary success factor!!
When you see a person you have known for quite some time on Instagram having the same issues as you telling you that a certain product or a service has provided them relief you immediately want to give it a try and who knows it might work for you.
Influencer Culture Evolution
Influencer culture is often seen in the modern world with a certain degree of cynicism. It is true as it keeps you in this constant chase with the influencer to buy everything they have or say so. Over time the influencer culture has been democratized with the marketers knowing that friend’s content is much more persuasive and impactful. So now a modern-day influencer can be living in the same bad apartment as you just with a lot more excess.
Is Rational Decision Making Possible?
Anybody but especially a young mind may not be able to make a rational transactional decision or form a rational thought on certain topics due to the constant influence they are under from these online avatars and bias which may be created due to long term para social relationships they might have with these influencers.
Positive Impact of Instagram Influencers on Young Minds
Not all the influencers have a necessarily bad influence on young minds. Following are some of the ways discussed briefly through which positive impact can be created in the youth.
- Aspirational Role Models: Young people can follow people they look up to on Instagram to see a more nuanced and complex portrait of them as an overall person. They can learn to develop certain characteristics like their ideals which lead them to success.
- Educational Content: To keep up to date with the most recent developments young people can follow many educational profiles on Instagrams which may teach them about certain shortcut techniques for math for instance. It can be an effective tool for passive learning.
- Creativity and Inspiration: Creativity and inspiration are required for a young soul to grow. Today’s youth can access many creative ventures ranging from art, drawing, music to gardening. For every passion there are creative outlets and inspiration available on Instagram.
- Empowerment and Self-Confidence: As a young person empowerment and self-confidence are necessary to grow. On Instagram you can find who have gone through and overcome the same problems as you which can be empowering and boost your confidence. Positive responses to your own creations can be validating.
- Community and Support: As a young person you need people where you can feel a sense of belonging. People on Instagram with the same passions can find a community to share their feelings of joys in good times and community can also support you through tough times.
- Awareness and Activism: Instagram can be used as a tool to raise awareness for the issues you care about with impact. Imagery is a powerful tool to raise awareness. Many celebrities and influencers used their platforms to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter movement. Activists can directly address their audience through Instagram.
Negative Impact of Instagram Influencers on Young Minds
There is certainly a large amount of negative impact this influencer culture has on youth which is explored below.
- Unrealistic Beauty Ideals and Filtered Images: At the end of the day Instagram is the perfect curated images which differ a lot from the reality. Young people see models and celebrities and set unrealistic beauty expectations from their partners whether in terms of beauty or physical prowess. Many influencers bank on these insecurities.
- FOMO and Social Comparison: There is constant fear of missing out on something as it might fade away from trends and social comparison with your ideals. Rather than being content with what you have you are in constant struggle to be as luxurious as these influencers.
- Influence on Academic Performance: Many young people waste a lot of their time on Instagram to be up to date with their favorite influencers. I have seen young people use Instagram the night of the exam rather than focusing on their academic careers.
- Materialism and Consumerism: Instagram influencers generate the desire to always want more appreciation, likes, followers and engagement which generates a materialistic youth and consumer society.
- Addiction and Mental Health Issues: Constant comparison with Instagram gurus can be really addictive and affect your mental health badly. Data shows that body image and issues of dis-condiment with one’s lifestyle are all time high among the users of Instagram, especially youth.
- Misleading Information: An influencer is not well versed in every aspect of life and many times in the race of being the first one to deliver a news there is a lot of misinformation shared even by your favorite avatars.
- Cyberbullying and Toxicity: Influencers can use their followers to launch massive hate campaigns and cyberbully certain individuals. Like the massive 2016 hate train for Taylor Swift which often creates a toxic culture and destroys a person’s creative streak.
Q: How do influencers affect children?
A: Influencers affect children adversely as they set unattainable goals, unrealistic standards and romanticize bad acts which results in an unhappy, insecure and rebellious kid.
Q: What is the impact of social media influencers on youth identity?
A: Modern youth follows influencers and make their identity on the beliefs of the influencer rather than doing the hard work of engaging with the uncomfortable truths themselves and forming an unbiased opinion.
Q: How does Gen Z feel about influencers?
A: Gen Z trusts individuals more while making their due to the para social relationship with the influencer. Their reliability over time and unbiased opinions.
Q: Do influencers have a positive impact on society?
A: Influencers can have a positive impact on society if they use social media more responsibly.
To sum it up, Instagram is a world of perfection more so than that of reality. Like all things it can have a positive impact when used responsibly. The negative impacts of Instagram and its influencer culture cannot be ignored especially in youth who are still growing. Personally, I would suggest you to use Instagram but take frequent breaks, to keep yourself grounded and in touch with reality. Good luck and thanks for reading!