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Instagram as Tool for Social Science Research Reflective Essay

In the recent decades, advancements in technologies have dramatically changed the research process across all disciplines. Some of these innovations have revolutionized research with titanic and far-reaching implications. The internet, for instance, has made it easy to access information and communicate across long distances. Some of these innovations are slightly less revolutionary but with tremendous impacts on research.

Online social media platforms are examples of modest innovations whose impact on research-related tasks can only be felt cumulatively through daily interactions. With a base of 90 million active users monthly and over 40 million photos posted each day, Instagram is a powerful tool for social science research (Titlow, 2013). The innovation uses hash tags to allow users share similar information.

A researcher can visit those hash tags to get vivid graphical results on a research topic. This paper will demonstrate that despite its shortcomings as a source of social problems, Instagram is a powerful research tool on virtually all social sciences disciplines.

Kevin Systrom and Michel Krieger, a Brazilian, developed Instagram in the beginning of 2010 (How did it Impact Society? –Instagram, n.d., par 3).The innovation got a financial boast from venture fund investment in March 2010. One year later, Instagram discovered hash tag, afeature that allows users to share and discover similar information and photos.

Like-minded Instagrammers create specific hash tags to help them discover each other. Instagram became very popular and hit over million users in 2010. With invention of the hash tag feature, this number rose to 10 million in 2011. By August 2012, the innovation had over 100 million photos uploaded on its service. This number surpassed one billion in 2012.

Each second, Instagram receives fifty-eightphotos and one new user on its service. Renowned personalities and celebrities have created Instagram profiles. This allows them to share photos and videos with their followers and fans. The innovation, though modest, has exceedingly many users on its platform. It is in recognition of the growth that Times listed it as the Best Android Application for 2013.

Instagram has gigantic impacts on research, some positive and others negative. To start with, the innovation provides a platform for expression of opinions through photos. Images are very powerful in sharing opinion especially in a world saturated with text. Instagram users post captivating images on their profiles. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words (Prives, n.d., par 4).

Social activists, opinion shapers, and commentators post photographs that capture issues affecting their worlds. It is thus easy for a researcher to discover people’s opinions on different aspects of life. It is also a powerful tool for social and political mobilization. In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Indonesia, people used Instagram photographs to highlight the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Through these images, it was possible to appeal to people’s emotions and mobilize help. A researcher can therefore find Instagram extremely useful in such areas. Instagram allows users to interact with people they would never have contacted before. By sharing pictures, people miles away stay connected. Through hash tags, like-minded people interact with one another as they share ideas, jokes, and exchange pictures.

The more people share and interact, the more societies build social and political ties. A social researcher interested in studying the influence of celebrities on teenagers can use Instagram. A photo of a celebrity dressed in a certain fashion can attract many young people to dress in the same way and share their photos.

Another benefit of Instagram as a research tool is the ease in access to vast amounts of information. The innovation has made it possible to access readily available resources at a click of a mouse. Researchers do not have to read volumes of newspaper or sit down for hours watching or listening to news. Instead, they can search for a relevant hash tag and get all relevant information.

For instance, a search on the “#fiscalcliff” hash tag generates in excess of five thousand pictures. A search on the hash tag “#new” has more than three hundred thousand images. Instagram as a tool for research in social sciences is therefore convenient, fast, and highly resourceful.

In spite of being resourceful and convenient as a research tool, Instagram has several negative consequences on users. To start with, the innovation has led to emergence of narcissistic stars of social media platform. Rinosa (2013)reports that the hash tag “#me” is the third in popularity in Instagram. Through this hash tag, young people share explicit self-images.

Additionally, young users upload too much personal details on this platform. They spend most of their time on cellphones sharing where they visit, what they eat, among other details. This leads to social awkwardness as young people are detached from the real world. It is impossible to regulate what people share on Instagram. The platform therefore contributes to erosion of moral fabric and cyber bullying.

Personally, I have been an Instagrammer since 2010. I signed up to the invention under influence from friends when I was in high school. The invention has had many effects on my personal life and as a college student. At a personal level, I interact with friends and share photos. I also get information on what is happening around the globe.

It had never occurred to me that Instagram is a powerful research tool until I ran out of information while explaining something to friends. We decided to search for the information on a particular hash tag on Instagram. We were overwhelmed by the amount of readily available information on the hash tag.

We got many images that helped us to understand our topic better. Since then, I realized the truism in the statement that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. Whenever I need information on something, I simply search for the particular hash tag. I did the same during the Halloween and the photos that came up inundated me.

In conclusion, technology will play a big role in future research. Instagram, for instance, has plans to have a video-sharing feature on its service. By using this feature, it will be possible to share and watch videos online. For researchers, this is an opportunity for clear evidence in the course of research.

With the recent acquisition by Facebook Inc., Instagram has obtained financial muzzle to develop more features (Titlow, 2013). Instagram has several shortcomings including social awkwardness and rise of narcissistic online stars. However, this does not negate the invention’s power as a social science tool.

With ninety million monthly users and an even higher photo sharing capability, researchers cannot ignore this vital tool. Rather thanincur high expenditure on other tools, researchers can exploit the convenience offered by Instagram as research tool in social science subjects.


How did it Impact Society? – Instagram. (n.d.). Web.

Prives, G. (n.d.). . Digital Photography School Instagram and its Impact on the World of Photography Comments. Web.

Rinosa, M. (2013). . Web.

Titlow, J. (2013). . Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Instagram as Tool for Social Science Research." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/instagram-as-tool-for-social-science-research/.


IvyPanda. "Instagram as Tool for Social Science Research." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/instagram-as-tool-for-social-science-research/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Instagram as Tool for Social Science Research." August 12, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/instagram-as-tool-for-social-science-research/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Instagram as Tool for Social Science Research'. 12 August.

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