Instagram acquaintances turn into friends in real life: Study

Washington, Dec 18 (PTI) Instagram may be helping young-adults develop friendships in real life, especially among those hesitant to try new experiences, according to a study which analysed the survey responses of nearly 700 college-age adults about their use of the social media site.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, noted that Instagram has a greater effect on people who ranked low on the personality trait of 'openness,' meaning they tended to be more reserved and closed to new experiences than those who ranked high in this trait.

The researchers, including those from the Washington State University (WSU) in the US, said the social networking platform encouraged survey participants to express themselves, leading to new and deeper relationships offline.

'Our findings are optimistic: that self-disclosure on Instagram could facilitate friendship development, even if followers were just casual acquaintances at the start,' said Danielle Lee, the study's lead author from WSU.

Instagram's influence on young adults, the researchers said, could be because the platform allows users to follow others on it without their approval, if their accounts are public.

They said this feature allowed people who don't have strong social ties outside of the platform to interact with others.

'Studies have shown that in general people who are not extroverted, who might be somewhat shy, find social media platforms an easier way to interact with other people. Instagram is such a visually rich platform and that really helps in self-presentation,' said Porismita Borah, study co-author from WSU.

Compared to other social networking platforms, the researchers said Instagram distinguishes itself with its focus on images.

On the platform, users cannot create a post without a visual as they can on Facebook and Twitter, providing an easy way to control how users present themselves.

'In Instagram, you can change the image the way you want with filters and many different tools before posting it. Both media richness and user-friendliness come together in Instagram, which is probably what makes it so appealing to the younger generation,' said Borah. PTI VIS VIS VIS