The Pros And Cons Of Your Instagram Addiction, According To Science

Love it or hate it — and you probably do both — Instagram is here to stay.

Two studies by University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business looked at our addiction to social media and as of now, it’s looking like there are quite a few pros and cons to Instagram. Which you probably already intimately know.

On one hand, people respond really well to the act of taking photos. In one study, researchers sent out sent two groups of participants on a tour of Philadelphia via double decker bus (why that’s part of their experiment, I do not know). One group was asked not to take photos of their experience, while the other group was given a bunch of digital cameras and asked to photograph their day.

The group who took photos reported feeling more enjoyment. “Consider this the justification for constantly posting to your Instagram,” Shape rerports.


Another study at USC examined the affect of Instagram “likes” on the brain by getting together a group of kids aged 13-18 for a mock-trial of a social media network modeled after Instagram, complete with heart-shaped “like” image to co-sign a photo. The kids were asked to take some of their own photos as well, and contributed them to the network alongside images of food, or things like marijuana and packs of cigarettes — which the New York Times categorizes as “risky behavior,” and studied their reactions to both.

One finding concluded that the same area in the brain that responds to pleasurable activities like having sex or eating ice cream, were similarly lit up when the participants viewed images with a large number of “likes,” and even more so when it was on a photo they took themselves.

They also found that students were more likely to “like” photos that already had a large number of likes, especially in terms of the images that weren’t representing risky behavior. If a photo has more “likes,” it probably seems cool, although an image with weed or cigs in it still triggers the part of an adolescent’s brain that controls inhibition, at least for a sec.

The “likes” basically function as “a social cue, orienting them to what is cool or socially appropriate,” Ms. Lauren Sherman, the study’s lead author says. “Learning about the social world is a really important task of adolescence.”

Who needs sex when ya got Instagram, right? You may not agree, but the world seems to; millennials’ declining sex rates don’t lie.

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