Selfies on Instagram and cyberbullying: Do adolescents perceive the risk of posting selfies?

Tue, 02/27/2024 - 21:12
Social networks

Instagram is a social media platform based on images where the adolescent population tends to maximize their physical attractiveness through photos or selfies, engaging in self-objectification behaviors. These behaviors on Instagram have a negative impact during adolescence, leading to deterioration of physical and mental health (low self-esteem, decreased life satisfaction, eating disorders, etc.), mainly in girls. However, little is known about whether posting self-objectifying selfies on Instagram is perceived as a cyberbullying risk behavior during adolescence.

From the Research Center for Mind, Brain, and Behavior at the University of Granada (UGR), a group of researchers from the Social Psychology and Gender Laboratory ( and members of the Social Problems Psychology group (HUM-289) conducted research to examine the perceived risk and likelihood of a person becoming a victim of cyberbullying behaviors for posting selfies on Instagram (e.g., receiving criticism, mockery, threats, etc.). Specifically, they analyzed the differences in perception based on: (a) the type of selfie posted, objectified vs. non-objectified, meaning whether the person shows a part of their body or not (e.g., abdomen or neckline); and (b) the gender of the person posting the selfie, male vs. female.

The main results indicated that the adolescent population perceived a greater risk and a higher likelihood of being victims of cyberbullying behaviors when a person posted a selfie showing part of their body on Instagram. On the other hand, it was found that overall, the adolescent population perceived a greater risk when the person posting the selfie was a girl, considering that she would have a higher probability of experiencing cyberbullying behaviors compared to if it was a boy. Specifically, adolescent girls (compared to adolescent boys) perceived that a girl would have a higher probability of experiencing cyberbullying behaviors for posting this type of selfies.

In conclusion, the results of this research suggest that posting selfies where some part of the body is shown (i.e., objectifying) on Instagram is perceived as a risky behavior and increases the likelihood of experiencing cyberbullying behaviors, especially among girls. These findings highlight the risk to which adolescent girls are exposed on social media, with the resulting consequences. Therefore, this work emphasizes the need to develop psychoeducational programs with a gender perspective aimed at the responsible use of digital media and the prevention of cyberbullying during adolescence.

More detailed information about the research can be found in the following reference:

Sánchez-Hernández, M. D., Herrera, M. C., Villanueva-Moya, L., & Expósito, F. (2023). Cyberbullying on Instagram: How adolescents perceive risk in personal selfies? Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 17(5), Article 2.

Contact researchers:

M. Dolores Sánchez-Hernández (@email)

M. Carmen Herrera (@email)

Laura Villanueva-Moya (

Francisca Expósito (@email)