Instagram just proposed that they would start hiding likes from other viewers in an attempt to empower users to use it as a platform of self-expression rather than self-comparison. Younger generations are more drawn to social media apps like Instagram where they can interact with celebrities, businesses, and influencers than websites like Facebook, where they share personal updates with friends and family.

As posts reach a wider audience and their feed is updated more frequently, it is not uncommon if your daughter has become addicted to scrolling through Instagram. For teens struggling with self-esteem and connection, Instagram provides the illusion of validation through likes and comments; but, the more teens post and put themselves out there online, the less connected they often feel offline.

Isn’t everyone addicted to their phone?

With smartphones, we carry access to the whole world in our hands. According to a recent New York Times article, “most people check their smartphones 150 times per day, or every six minutes.” Each time we pick up our phone, we get sucked into a vortex of selfies, articles, emails, and endless scrolling. Teens spend an average of nine hours a day staring at a screen and most of them are worried they spend too much time on their phones. Like all addictions, technology convinces us that we need it and we can’t live without the identities we’ve built online. Although technology gives us access to more information, improves productivity, and helps us to connect with others, it can have a significant impact on our self-esteem, relationships, and digital safety.

Potential Harm caused by Instagram

Social media is just another form of media that can offer fake news, unrealistic role models, and awareness of violence in society. The difference between social media and other news outlets is that it is run by users and largely unregulated, unless you are a high-profile personality. Most teens that use Instagram as a cry for help or to target others go under the radar.

The biggest problem with social media is that people feel pressure to present false, idealistic versions of themselves. Most accounts are used to glamorize your life, which can be an immediate boost to your self esteem, but forces you to keep up appearances. While more influencers are becoming vulnerable about having bad days or using photoshop, teenagers often compare themselves to the good parts of other people’s lives without realizing a picture may hide a thousand words.

Hiding likes may not protect teenagers from cyberbullying or censor the type of information they are exposed to, but it can help teenagers form an identity outside of likes. Constantly comparing yourself to others and receiving messages about what your life should look like, if only you could afford these products or have these experiences, takes a toll on one’s self-esteem and self concept. Teens feel pressure to be the person they want to be online and look for approval from others by giving into buying products and going places “for the gram.” The lack of censorship of smaller accounts can contribute to receiving hateful comments or spreading screenshots of personal information that can tear apart the unstable sense of self-esteem teens build online.

Benefits of using Instagram

It’s impossible to make your daughter avoid using Instagram altogether. Most teens have smartphones and communicate with their friends more often through social media than over text.

We don’t believe technology use should be restricted, but we encourage girls to learn how to use social media to empower themselves rather than to self-destruct.

  • Helps teens stay in touch with friends
  • Provides a way to bond over content in person or to discover you have shared interests with your peers
  • Easier than communicating in person for teens with social anxiety
  • Can be easier to reach out for support to a wider audience than to text a specific person. You never know who might respond and how supportive they might be.
  • Likes are a stamp of approval and support, even if they are easy to obsess over
  • Encourages teens to share their achievements and creativity
  • Can be a good distraction from overwhelming emotions
  • Many accounts are filled with positive messages about self-esteem and embracing who you are

It’s all about choosing who you follow and who you let follow your account. Maybe hiding likes will help get back to the real purpose of social media: forming positive connections.

Solstice West can help

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Many of them struggle with technology addiction that has taken a blow to their self-esteem and they have difficulty maintaining in-person relationships due to self-doubt, people-pleasing, and insecurity.

Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves offline and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.