Instagram and Teens: a Toxic Duo

Instagram has become a popular app among teenagers and throughout the last few years it has increased the rate of cyberbullying. Instagram has also affected the teenagers mind in...

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Instagram has become a popular app among teenagers and throughout the last few years it has increased the rate of cyberbullying. Instagram has also affected the teenagers mind in many different ways. One way is that when you are on social media websites they can alter the brain to change or grow.  As a result, “ we might be a bit less good at reading subtle expressions on faces that are moving, but we might be much quicker at monitoring what’s going on in a whole group of our friends”(East). Instagram may not be for everyone but it has lent itself to be a significant part of teens lives. The social media platform is designed for sharing photos to your friends that follow you on the application. Teenagers however can be especially cruel and make jokes to the poster that are unnecessary and can often lead to he/she feeling angry or upset regarding the comment that his/her friend has made. There are also many times where the person who made the comment says it was a joke but was not taken as a joke.

Instagram affects teens in a few different ways. We love instant instant gratification.When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of likes, they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain’s reward circuitry,” says lead author Lauren Sherman(East). This is the same group of regions responding when we see pictures of a person we love or when we win money.” Reward circuitry is “particularly sensitive in adolescence,” says Sherman, “It could be explaining, at least in part, why teens are such avid social media users.” (East). There are underlying factors that cause cyberbullying these can be “peer conflict, immaturity, insecurity,ethics, social, emotional dysfunctions, and behavioral issues that foster instances of online bullying among individuals. And that is something we must all continue to target, so that we can make further headway in safeguarding, equipping, and empowering our youth as they navigate the difficult waters of adolescence(Cyberbullying on Instagram) “There are a few ways that teens can be bullied, posting malicious or embarrassing photos of his or herself, writing, posting a  cruel remark that someone else post, using a mean hashtag, creating a fake account, and posting a screenshot of private text messages(Gordon).

There are many ways that teenagers can handle cyberbullying but there should not be cyberbullying in the first place. One suggestion is having parents control  when their son or daughter is able to have an Instagram. Teenagers hate being told “no” but it is important that parents stick by this rule until they think that their teen seems ready for it. “As a parent, [you] may believe Instagram may not harm your child, but there is a seedy underbelly of these sites that if not protected against, may introduce your child to more than you ever intended.As a parent, we have the responsibility to protect our children and help them make wise decisions“( Yeats). However, if that does not seem like an appropriate approach to take, parents may choose to moderate what their son or daughter is posting and commenting on to make sure that are not being cruel or making anyone upset. This allows parents of teens to be more in tune with what their child is doing online. One important action to do when you are a victim of assault is to not delete the comment and keep it has as evidence. A lot of us on the internet are bystanders we may see something online that may be out of line and ignore it. However, it is important to notify someone so something can be done. Unfortunately, bullying happens and you have to realize that you are not alone. It is also important to keep in mind that you should “Never allow yourself to be defined by someone’s opinion of you( Miller).



“Cyberbullying On Instagram”. Cyberbullying Research Center. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 


East, Susie. “How Does Social Media Affect Your Brain”. CNN. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.


Gordon, Sherri. “How Teens Use Instagram To Cyberbully Others”. Verywell. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2016. 


Miller, Marissa. “The RIGHT Way To Handle Social Media Harassment And Bullying”. Teen Vogue. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.


Yeats, John Mark. “Saying “No” In An Instagram World.”. John M. Yeats. N.p., 2013. Web. 3 Oct. 2016. 



Samantha Lynch( University of Vermont)

22 year old who’s passionate about traveling,food, and social media



Rob Williams, Ph.D., University of Vermont Professor of Media/Communication.


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