Social media defines the lives of today’s teenagers. According to the New York Times, teens spend around seven and a half hours per day on electronic devices. Every minute, we are bombarded by fake and distorted images of other people’s seemingly exciting and perfect lives. We start believing that our lives are boring and so we post pictures to prove that we are just as exciting and popular as our peers. It’s a cycle of over-edited pictures, an unquenchable thirst for “likes,” and self-hate.
Why does social media matter to teens? Because it embodies our whole social community.
In April 2013, Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars. That was money well spent, because Instagram’s user base is growing rapidly. Regardless of which social media device you use, Facebook, the new owner of Instagram, is the owner of your personal social media experience.
Does FB exploit and benefit from teens’ obsession with self-image? Yes. While Mark Zuckerberg probably did not initially think of it this way, it’s the reality. And he is not about to try and stop the demographic that makes up a large portion of his user base from going on Facebook as often as they do.
My survey of the College Prep student body determined that Facebook is currently more popular—but Instagram is on the rise and will soon surpass Facebook. Here’s what I found:
Facebook is seen as more popular and is used more on a daily basis.
Most students use Facebook a few times a day, but Instagram less than once a day.
Facebook is more popular among sophomores and juniors, while Instagram is more popular among freshmen.
For seniors, the two social media services were equally popular.
89% of those who took the survey thought that Instagram was on the rise and Facebook was not.
From personal experience, I know that the eighth-graders in my younger brother’s class are obsessed with Instagram, while most of them do not have or want a Facebook account.
This trend is likely to continue, because people often join the social media sites that friends are using. Many upperclassmen stated that they like Facebook better simply because more people are on it.
According to The Associated Press, an astounding 1.11 billion people worldwide were Facebook users as of March 2013, compared to a mere 130 million Instagram users. But from a youth perspective, Facebook is now too dominated by adults. Teenagers are embarrassed by their parents’ wall posts and comments. Instagram, on the other hand, is almost completely dominated by young people.
When asked which social media service is not just used more, but liked better, most College Prep students said Facebook, because it has functions besides just posting pictures. That’s all Instagram does, but on Facebook, you can privately chat with people. Plus, it’s a better combination of text and photos. Some said Facebook makes it easier to keep track of things that are going on. It’s not just for “artsy” purposes.
Most of all, Facebook makes it easier to stalk people. There is more personal information on Facebook, so you can learn a lot more about any given person.
Students who prefer Instagram claimed that Facebook is boring because it’s harder to filter out useless information about people you barely know. Most people’s newsfeeds are cluttered with “pointless statuses,” said sophomore Sora Anzora, while an anonymous senior described Instagram as “a glimpse at other people’s lives.”
Students also described Instagram as easier to use, simpler, and requiring less effort. Many stated that it’s more enjoyable and interesting to look at photos than words. Instagram also boasts more privacy and less ads. The downside is that you need an iPhone to have one.
As the years go by, the attention span of young people is getting shorter. The growing popularity of Instagram supports this. Even a two-sentence status update is now boring and slow compared to a constant stream of colorfully filtered pictures that makes our life seem, well, better than it really is.