Disposable photos

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have made some interesting discoveries about how teenagers use Instagram. Jang et al (2016) investigated the differences between how teenagers and adults use Instagram.

Having grown up with social networking, it would be presumed that teenagers would post far more photographs than the adults. However one of Jang st al’s findings was that, whilst these digital natives like and comment more on others’ images, they actually post less photographs. It isn’t cool to have lots of images clogging up your feed. As well as that, any images that receive few likes are removed. The vast majority of images on teenager’s Instagram accounts are the ones that they hold dearly. These images are statements about looks, emotions and possessions.  

If an image has not been well-received, then it is deleted. Generally speaking, teenagers do not hoard images. They serve a purpose, as a means of communication, and then they are disposed of when they are no longer needed.  

Subsequently, this behaviour has the potential to affect the evolution of photography in two ways. Firstly, if less photographs are being saved, what will happen to this generation’s historical archive? Also, how will photography develop as a meaningful method of communication? After all, emojis and memes are a very common in digital culture.



Jang J. et al. (2016) Teens Engage More with Fewer Photos: Temporal and Comparative Analysis on Behaviors in InstagramAssociation for Computing Machinery: Halifax