Like Me! Follow Me! A Grounded Theory of Adolescents’ Public Posts on Instagram
Abstract: Instagram is one of the most used social media platforms that allows adolescents to socialize with others and thereby may have a profound impact on their social development and identity formation. The purpose of this study was to develop a tentative theoretical framework that explains the role of social media in adolescent development. Grounded theory procedures were used to inductively develop a theoretical framework to explain how adolescent students use Instagram to achieve their developmental tasks. Two categories emerged from the analysis: self-representation and social acceptance. The analysis reveals an association between adolescents’ self-representation and their desire for social acceptance. To gain social acceptance, adolescents use school-related hashtags (e.g., #schoolboy) along with connection-related hashtags (e.g., #like4like) and provide flattering photos and descriptions to seek attention and positive responses from others. Responses from others (e.g., the number of Likes, comments, and followers) appear to have significant impact on adolescents’ self-esteem.