What Types of Photographs Do Teenagers “Like”?

What Types of Photographs Do Teenagers “Like”?

Patricia M. Greenfield (University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA), Noah F. G. Evers (Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, Santa Monica, USA) and Josh Dembo (Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, Santa Monica, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2017070101
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Instagram is a popular photo-sharing application. Viewers interact with those who post photographs through registering “likes” and making comments. This experiment investigated what kinds of photos teenagers “like.” Two teenagers created and selected photo stimuli of different types and posted them to their existing Instagram accounts. In this way, the authors ensured a high degree of ecological validity. The research design called for 16 photos in each of the following eight categories: peer, romantic relationship, solo activity, selfie, family, violence, nature, and food. In the categories of peer, romantic relationship, solo activity, selfie, and family, half the pictures included the person posting and half did not. Hypothesis 1 states that the pattern of “likes” would reflect adolescent developmental issues: as a group, peer relations, romantic relations, identity formation, and independence from family would receive the most “likes.” Hypothesis 2 states that photos that included the person posting gather more “likes” than photos that did not. Both hypotheses were confirmed by the pattern of “likes” elicited by the posted photographs. Thus adolescent Instagram use, like the adolescent use of other social networking tools, indicates that the same developmental issues are expressed online and offline. The fact that teens prefer Instagram photos in which the person posting appears (as shown by the increased amount of “likes”) indicates that the narcissistic tendencies of creating and editing a social network profile are driven not just by the individual; they are also driven by the audience.
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Instagram As A Social Network Site

Online pictures have been around since the early 90’s, but only with social media has it been possible for the average person to share their photos. Created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram is a smartphone app where people can post photos, look at other people’s photos, and comment and/or register their “likes” on photos. By Fall 2014, 76% of teens were using Instagram (Blaszczak-Boxe, 2014). This percentage has stayed constant through 2017 (National Opinion Research Center, 2017). Because Instagram is so popular with teens, it is important to study the responses to Instagram photographs of the teen audience, the topic of this study.

Going beyond photo sharing, Instagram has begun to be recognized as a social network site. The first hard data on this point was the finding that a social stimulus, the presence of at least one face, increases “likes” by 38% and comments by 32% in a sample of one million Instagram photos (Bakhshi, Shamina, & Gilbert, 2014).

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