By Aabida Dhanji
#InstaFame, a recent study conducted by Centennial College, revealed that many teens are posting images online in order to lure more followers.
“Young adults and teenagers are using social media to brand themselves online in order to become famous,” said Kayla McNally, co-author of the #InstaFame research project.
The study revealed many shocking facts that were not known before such as youths living double lives to which their families are oblivious.
McNally said one of the most disturbing facts found by the study was that a lot of kids with large numbers of followers are making money or getting gifts from posting pictures online.
“Companies send these kids products so the kids can wear or use the product, take a picture and give the company a shout-out,” she said. “They’re making real careers out of posting online.”
“Their followers, which are other kids are sending money, gifts or products to get shout-outs,” said McNally.
“We also found, that many of these youth are lying about their age to get on to social media and parents are unaware of what is happening online,” she said.
Humber College student Ryan Lenardon said although he was unfamiliar with the study, he was in agreement with its findings.
“The media gives so much attention to all these people that post these pictures or who are in magazines or who do all these crazy poses,” he said.
“So kids think that’s going to make them better or greater,” he said.
Lenardon said he thinks it is very superficial and unhealthy.
“Everyone wants to be cool, get attention, have people talk about them, so I think it does affect their image but I don’t think it’s the right way to do it,” he said.
Anna Akoto, a 19 year-old Media Studies student at the University of Guelph-Humber, said social media is a popularity contest and most people feel the need to compete. “The more provocative a picture is, the more likes or followers you gain, so in a sense it is glorified,” she said.
Humber College Student Helene Bourque, 27, doesn’t post suggestive pictures or follow people that do unless she knows them personally.
“We are a judgmental society, so images like these can affect a persons image,” said Bourque.
“It depends on how much you post and how far you take it, it’s how you feel personally. I like to keep that stuff under wraps, and my boyfriend should be the only one that sees that kind of stuff, not the whole world,” she said.
McNally said while there were many questionable practices uncovered by the study, there are also a lot of youths who are being very responsible and using social media for good. They use social media to raise awareness of charities, fundraisers and causes they support.