Instagram use and its effects on self-esteem during the COVID-19 pandemic


  • Gianni Quaedvlieg Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Paulina Pankowska Utrecht University


Instagram, Social media use, Self-esteem, COVID-19, Latent class analysis (LCA)


In recent years, Instagram has become one of the most commonly used social media platforms among young adults worldwide. Given its popularity, a large body of research has been conducted to examine different patterns of Instagram usage, and the effects they might have on various mental well-being outcomes, including self-esteem. However, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation and context in which Instagram was being used changed substantially. This in turn, might also have had implications on the relationship between Instagram use and mental well-being.

Therefore, this research re-examines the different patterns of Instagram usage among young adults and their effect on self-esteem, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, using latent class analysis (LCA). The results suggest the presence of four distinct usage patterns: two usage patterns in which individuals seek to gratify their social needs and needs for knowledge and stress relief, respectively, and two patterns that are characterised by low and high intensity of using Instagram for different reasons and to fulfil various needs. The results also show that using Instagram to fulfil social needs is associated with lower self-esteem levels than when this platform is used at low intensity.   


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