Teenagers are now brought up in a time of many technical developments, such as the emergency of the Internet and mobile devices. A higher proportion of adolescents had no idea what life was like before social media came into being. As a result of these advancements, a higher percentage of this demographic spends extremely longer times on different social media platforms, including Instagram, among others. Various surveys have found that 10 out of 15 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 devote more time on Instagram relative to other activities, such as swimming, blogging, and even watching movies. Most of the critics and writers have Most critics and reviewers have argued that, teenagers find Instagram influencers increasingly relatable as compared to traditional ones. Social media influencers, particularly those with Instagram accounts are perceived as role models by teenagers. Nevertheless, in spite of being famous on social media platforms like Instagram, outside the Instagram community, these individuals are just normal individuals. More so, parents normally have no idea regarding their children’s online behavior and why they usually spend a considerable amounts of time on Instagram.
The main objective of this research is to offer a general overview of the current Instagram community, including its influences, that is, successes and failures on a normal teenager’s life. Furthermore, this research utilizes a qualitative study technique alongside a semi-designed interviewing approach. The study focuses on normal teenagers and ‘Instagramers’, as they refer themselves, and them merges the results. The study’s sample comprises of 10 in-depth interviews with 15 teenagers in total and 5 in-depth interviews with 5 Instagramers in total. This study reveals that Instagram has become a part of the everyday lives of most teenagers, given Instagramers do have an influence on the general behavior of other teenagers, of which both those who don’t Instagram and parents are oblivious of. It is important to point out that, this influence has both positive and negative influences. However, the ignorance of parents can be an issue as most teenagers desire to become Instagramers themselves. This study advices parents to know more about their teenagers social media behavior, and proceed to make applicable rules and guidelines about what is permitted and what is absolutely not. Therefore, this expressive study outlines the world of Instagramers and teenagers. Further study could put emphasis on guidelines for guardians and parents whose teenagers are active on Instagram.
Over the past decade, the internet world has evolved, resulting into an immense shift from utilizing the internet for normal browsing and surfing, to an excitement of networking as a groundbreaking kind of large-scale cooperation as well as economic democracy for most individuals including teenagers (Brown & Hayes, 2008). This huge shift of the internet towards user-centered technologies including blogs, video-sharing podiums and social networks such as Instagram has permitted a revolution of User-Generated Content (UGC). Basically, UGC denotes to all the different types of media content developed or produced by the internet’s general populace, discounting paid experts. Additionally, UGC can be described as the process of mining value by creating, assessing, and editing and distributing media content (Fuchs, Hofkirchner, & Schafrenek, 2010). In other words, this revolution of UGC is what is currently referred to as or known as social media in general.
UGC is also detailed to be the subsequent iteration of Word-of-Mouth (WOM). Customary WOM has proven to play a significant role in the customer decision-making process. Through WOM, positive or negative declarations can be made by many potential customers regarding a product or even business, declarations which are then made available and accessible to many individuals and organizations through the various social media platform such as Instagram (Dellarocas, 2003). Consumers can then share their individual experiences as well as sentiments online, hence increasing the impartial product information various persons collect from other online consumers.
Through social media platforms such as Instagram, teenagers are now able to produce their own media content and partake in all sorts of applications, especially in social networking with their family, friends, and other online users (Dellarocas, 2003). Today, people especially teenagers create media content such as images, videos, and flyers to name a few on a daily basis. Through this media content, teenagers are then able to share their experiences and sentiments regarding everything from products, services, homework, boyfriend/girlfriend problems and gaming tutorials among others (Daugherty, Eastin, & Brightt, 2008). Usually, teenagers start using Instagram as a hobby, but creating media content for personal postings or channels evolves and becomes a full-time job.
Creating media content on a daily basis allows teenagers to have a huge fan base, which over time create a large community of numerous loyal followers. More and new media content means new followers as well as subscribers on a daily basis. Instagram is one of the most popular online platforms on which content creators, including teenagers share their contents to both their followers and non-followers (Fuchs, Hofkirchner, & Schafrenek, 2010). But, someone can decide to follow people following them or not. With just a single video or image, a teenager can be able to reach millions of people in just a click away. It is important to point out that Instagram being among the most famous online platform is used for real-time contact with Instagram users.
Teenagers who can create attractive and appealing media content may end up becoming social influencers with substantial persuasive impact on many people including teenagers. The influence and reputation of such teenagers can be compared to that of customary celebrities (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The content they share through Instagram can have both positive and negative impact depending on a viewer. Even though Instagram is used by people of all ages, this particular social networking platform is extremely popular among teenagers. Research has shown that about 95% of the young generation aged between 12 and 24 years old regularly use Instagram for various reasons (Chua & Banerjee, 2015). These youngsters consume online video clips and images through social media platforms like Instagram for a standard rate if 12 hours per week, making Instagram the most famous social media platform.
The popularity of Instagram is mirrored again in the amount of Instagramers that focus on teenagers. The effect of Instagramers on teenagers has become progressively unprecedented over time. Instagramers are today perceived as role models and usually acknowledged in the streets by their teenage fans (Constantinides, Romero, & Boria, 2009). Nevertheless, outside their Instagram life, most if not all Instagramers are just normal people with a constant online presence. Unfortunately, parents and guardians usually do not know anything about how their teenage kids behave while online and the Instagramers that their children adore (Constantinides, Romero, & Boria, 2009). This has consequently resulted into numerous puzzling instants, particularly when fans devotedly identify their favorite Instagramers, whereas other people do not recognize who that is.
Although there still exists studies on the impact of traditional media on teenagers, it is still amazing to dig deeper into the successes and failures of social networks such as Instagram on teenagers. Also, it is important to understand whether this impact is positive or negative. To date, just a small portion of this phenomenon has been studied regarding the impact or influence of Instagram and Instagramers in general on teenagers (Brown & Hayes, 2008). Earlier studies were mostly concerned with the participatory cultures on Instagram, assessing platforms of which Instagram is just a part of numerous platforms, understanding the difference between Instagram and other social media platforms (Childwise, 2016). Furthermore, not so much research has been conducted in places such as Europe or even Germany. Therefore, the current study takes both the viewpoint of teenagers and Instagramers into consideration in addition to combining them with other subjects to get better deeper insight on the influence of Instagram on teenagers; by investigating the role Instagram plays in the life of teenagers and the manner in which Instagramers assess their individual influences and experiences on teenagers (Childwise, 2016).
Therefore, the main objective of this study is to offer an outline of the current Instagram community, including the positive and negative influence Instagramers have on teenagers. The study focuses on both the discernment of teenagers as well as the experience of Instagramers themselves and merging both outcomes (Daugherty, Eastin, & Brightt, 2008). Also, this study examines what variations in behavior takes place, the manner in which teenagers identify with Instagramers and how Instagramers contemplate about their influence on teenagers. Furthermore, the interviews examines whether the life of Instagramers, particularly teenagers is actually that amazing as it looks in the videos they post and whether these teenagers know how real everything in their individual videos is (Braun & Clarke, 2006).
This hypothetical outline pronounces the rise of social media, changes to User-Generated content as well as the conduct of teenagers on Instagram. The outline will then proceed to identify and describe the social cognitive model, talk about the influence of social influencers such as Instagramers on teenagers’ purchasing behavior, and conclude by focusing on the discernment of influence and the accountabilities Instagramers, particularly teenage Instagramers have about their teenager fan base.
Teenagers’ conduct on social media
The Internet (World Wide Web) has evolved over the past decade. Whereas Instagram was new to a greater percentage of internet consumers just a few years ago, it has currently become part of a teenager’s daily life. To begin with, there are two connected notions that are regularly used to describe social media. They include the World Wide Web (WWW) and User-Generated Content (UGC) (Daugherty, Eastin, & Brightt, 2008). WWW basically describes a new way in which software creators and end users collaborate. On the other hand, UGC refers to the different kinds of media content produced by the general WWW users, excluding paid specialists. UGC has three fundamental requirements. First, it requires to be published on accessible websites such as social networking platforms like Instagram, excluding messages not accessible by the general public (Daugherty, Eastin, & Brightt, 2008). Next, UGC requires to display creativity, implying that posting a copy of existing media content like articles or phrases without alterations is not considered as UGC. Finally, UGC requires to be produced without professional involvement, discounting content that has been produced with a commercial market background.
Teenagers today are brought up in a period of smartphones and don’t even recall a time before the emergency of social media. This population is often referred to as Generation Z and are defined with birth years stretching from the late 1990s all through the 2010s. It is important to highlight that millennials are currently watching less of customary TV shows and instead consume more digital media content from websites and social networking platform such as Instagram. Reports have shown that approximately 95% of the millennial generation spends averagely 12 hours weekly viewing online videos and images from famous platforms such as Instagram (Subramani & Rajagopaian, 2003). Teenager viewers are more expected to identify with Instagramers as compared to celebrities being featured on traditional TV shows and various film stars. More so, about 60% of 14-year-olds follow Instagramers, or themselves are on Instagram. Therefore, teenagers find Instagram influencers more related as compared to customary celebrities, and tend to identify themselves more progressively with Instagramers as compared to customary celebrities.
How Teenagers identify themselves with Instagramers
Presently, the new generation of social influencers can easily be found online. Although Instagramers can be likened to celebrities in customary media, there exist attracting elements that make Instagram celebrities more popular and respected. For instance, most American teenagers find Instagramers more relatable and attainable (Variety, 2014). This is because, these teenagers feel more connected to Instagramers since they perceive them as their equals. They view them as “just” normal kids with the capabilities of producing exceptional media content on the internet, kids who can even the girl or boy next door.
The Influence of Instagramers on Teenagers’ Behavior
Social influencers including Instagramers are utilized to disseminate messages speedily among their huge fan base at comparatively low costs. This is Instagram’s hugest success. More so, Instagram has taken marketing into the next level. It is much easier for Instagramers to advertise some product or service to their loyal followers at relatively reduced costs. Furthermore, in the decision-making process, teenage Instagram consumers incline to copy others (Kaplan & Haenalein, 2010). Because of that, influencer marketing is a different marketing that emphasizes on the decision-making process. This tends to influence the buying behavior of most teenagers.
Apart from the purchase behavior, Instagramers have another kind of influence on the way teenagers conduct themselves. Teenagers copy the way Instagramers behave in their videos in various aspects including the way they dress and act (Gill, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008). This influence can be good or bad. Instagramers can positively impact teenagers by introducing newer trends of attires or even motivate teenagers in one way or the other. On the other hand, Instagramers can negatively impact teenagers (Gill, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008). For example, swearing or cursing is often a taboo to most teenagers. But since most Instagramers are older than these teenagers, they can freely curse, a behavior most teenagers can copy. Also, some Instagramers can dress inappropriately, hence influencing the way teenagers dress.
Research Design and Methodology
To examine the stated study question, this study employed a qualitative study technique. Given the aim of this study is principally investigative in nature, a semi-designed interviewing approach was employed. A semi-designed interview comprises of numerous key queries focusing on precise regions, but also permits the interviewer to deviate in order to seek a concept or reaction in a more detailed manner (Gill, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008). More so, this approach offers a study’s participants some kind of guidance on what to address, something that can be helpful, particularly for teenagers addressing a broad subject such as Instagram. Finally, this technique is more flexible as compared to structured interviews in addition to allowing discovery of information that is essential to participants but might not have been contemplated by the researcher (Gill, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008).
The study focused on two sets of groups, that is, Instagramers and their teenage followers. 15 interviews were conducted among 30 young generation individuals aged between 12 and 24 years who follow Instagramers. This particular age range was selected based on previous study which focused on the young generation and social media. Additionally, in spite of the age requirements on various social networks, a greater proportion of teenagers are already active online as from the age of 10.
All the study’s participants were interviewed face-to-face. The study’s interview queries focused on four specific themes including teenage behavior on social media (Instagram), identification, how Instagramers and Instagram in general influences teenage behavior and finally, awareness of how Instagramers influences teenage behavior. For instance, teenage behavior was quantified to see how active teenagers are on Instagram by focusing questions on the total amount of time spent on Instagram and most preferred Instagramers.
After inquiring how teenagers conduct themselves on Instagram, questions on identification were based on what attracts them to view Instagram media content such as videos and why they often follow their favorite Instagramers. Also, to see how teenagers identify themselves with Instagramers, questions asked were based on the changes in teenage behavior and whether teenagers have ever bought products recommended by their favorite Instagramers. Lastly, to understand whether teenagers are aware in the manner in which Instagramers influence their purchase behavior, they were asked how the act when they view promotional messages and whether they usually buy the products or not.
Regarding teenager behavior as one of the theme used in the study, the study shows that most teenagers consume Instagram media content on a daily basis, with an average of 12 hours weekly. Instagram has become an integral part of their daily routines. Teenagers understand precisely when they can anticipate for new media content from their preferred Instagramers. Instagramers upload media content on frequencies varying from daily to weekly. Therefore, most teenagers view these content instantly after their daily activities such as after school. The results about teenage behavior, therefore, shows that Instagram has substituted TV and teenagers have incorporated it into their daily routines.
Identification is another theme used to identify the influence of Instagram in teenagers. This theme was used to quantify the manner in which teenagers identify with Instagramers and how they relate with them. The study shows that teenagers adore Instagram because they can easily access any media content. These teenagers can view whatever they desire at any moment in addition to using it for entertainment purposes. Most teenagers love viewing creative and funny videos. Hence, the study’s results about identification illustrate that teenagers like Instagram because they have the freedom to view whatever they like at any given moment in time. Most teenagers cannot contemplate their lives without Instagram since they view Instagram as a standard daily activity in their lives. However, they have no idea the amount of work they need to put in to become fruitful on Instagram, whether in terms of getting many likes or loyal followers. This ends up wasting a lot of time they could use to do something constructive.
Evidently, Instagram influences the manner in which teenagers conduct themselves. Influences are quantified to see what impact Instagramers have on the behavior of teenagers in areas such as their purchasing behavior, sleep behaviors, how spending too much time on Instagram affects their homework and proficiency in the English language. Viewing Instagram videos, for instance, helps teenagers advance their level of English since they regularly view English videos and reading posted posts. Additionally, Instagram has another positive influence on teenagers given they can learn practical skills and tips which they can apply in their daily lives among other positive influences.
Finally, the study shows that teenagers are totally unaware of how Instagram affects their buying behavior. Most teenagers end up buying products based on the recommendations of their favorite Instagramers, but end up denying it especially when they go buying goods of inferior quality. However, these teenagers end up being influenced to buy these products because they have no idea what goes on behind Instagram. Instagramers puts in a lot of time and resources coming up with attractive and creative media content which ends up creating an illusion. This illusion may compel teenagers to buy products recommended by their preferred Instagramers regardless of considering their qualities.
Instagram has become a huge part of day to day lives of most teenagers currently. Teenagers spend a lot of time viewing videos and images posted on Instagram and are admirers of most Instagramers as compared to customary celebrities featured in movies and TV (Variety, 2014). The study has shown that, teenagers presently consume more digital media from platforms such as Instagram with a standard rate of 12 hours per week, and more probably to identify themselves with Instagramers as compared to customary film celebrities (Variety, 2014). The results also display that teenagers are feel more attracted to Instagram than customary TV show celebrities. This is because, they always emulate what Instagramers do, wear and even post.
Furthermore, results show that Instagramers impact the purchasing behavior of teenagers. Most teenagers contemplate that Instagramers are honest regarding the products and services they promote and usually desire to but things Instagramers are advertising, even if they are of poor quality (Dellarocas, 2003). Previous studies have shown that consumers tend to copy other consumers in the decision-making process, and because of this, social influencers like Instagramers are used to spread messages speedily among their dedicated followers.
Finally, the study’s results have shown that teenagers are completely unaware of the impact Instagramers have on them. Even though most teenagers state that Instagramers do not have substantial influence on them, they oversee the fact that they always buy products founded on what Instagramers recommend in addition to copying their behaviors (Childwise, 2016). More so, teenagers think that they recognize supported content immediately, but when asked regarding the objective of a sponsored message, they always fail to mention it was meant for promotional purposes.
To sum up, it is evident that Instagram and Instagramers play a crucial role in the daily lives of teenagers who are active on Instagram. Instagram has increasingly become a part of these teenagers’ lives as they view video clips on a daily basis, attend various fan forums, chat with their friends, and even as they message their preferred Instagramers. Some teenagers desire to become Instagramers themselves and have even started their private Instagram channels. Teenagers are, however, unconscious of the effect Instagram have on them. In most cases, teenagers end up asking for guidance from Instagramers, desire to purchase just the products and services promoted by Instagramers, and even cloth and act like they do. On the other hand, parents and guardians usually say that their teenage kids utilize a considerable amount of time online. Nevertheless, most parents have no idea what their teenage kids do or watch on Instagram, even though Instagram is a huge part of their everyday lives.
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