Teens Curate Their Instagram Accounts, Over 25 Images is Now Uncool

Jim Liebelt

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Tech Insider.

A recent Washington Post article chronicled the way one teen uses social media and revealed the importance of Instagram in the life of social teens today. One of the most interesting moments in the article was learning that teens are now curating their Instagrams and deleting photos that don't get enough likes. The teen profiled in the Washington Post article had 604 followers and only 25 posts on her account.

It turns out for teens, Instagram is much more than a medium to share photos on — it's an extension of their identities.

Another teen Instagram user, Catherine, tells TI via text message that she too deletes photos when she doesn't get a lot of likes. She says she has over 500 followers and most of her posts have around 100 likes.

Mastering the art of Instagram sounds a lot like fishing: The photo is bait and the engaged followers are the fish. If one type of bait isn't working, you toss it and try another.

In early adolescence, between the ages of 13 and 15, teens are still fairly self-centered and are more likely to worry about a "perceived other," according to Drew Cingle, a researcher at Northwestern University.

"They know that people have thoughts and feelings that are different from their own, but they misattribute them," he tells TI. That is, teens view opinions that are different than their own as disapproval. This explains why teens will sometimes delete a post that doesn't garner enough likes — if your friends don't like your photo virtually on Instagram, that may mean they don't like it at all.

Photos that do best are those that people genuinely like in real life, not just on the app, like a team photo or something a little "artsy," Catherine tells TI. She says an "artsy" post can be a landscape picture or something with nature, and filters never fail to add that extra touch. Posts that everyone can relate to and will approve of are the most successful.

How many "likes" a post gets depends on a number of factors. Timing is an important one: Prime posting hours are usually weeknights between 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. when the most people are checking the app, according to Dan. Teens also know who to expect to like their posts. Catherine tells TI she knows what people will or won't like because she knows who goes on Instagram most often.

So Instagram isn't just about posting things you like, it's about posting things that are relevant to you and your followers. A lack of likes, or the realization that maybe your post isn't relevant, means it should be removed.

This digital curation can become stressful. All of these rules around what to post, what not to post, when to post it, and how many likes is enough likes come from the teens themselves. They've created a world where they rely on others to determine their self confidence and many feel the pressure to keep up and fit in.

Source: Tech Insider