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This Facebook “like” icon is used in a similar way to an Instagram “like”. (Flickr/Thomas Angermann)

Social media is everywhere, making the 21st century phenomenon virtually impossible to avoid.

According to a new 2016 survey from InsightsWest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are growing quickly. In fact, the usage is growing more so in women than men. Twenty per cent of those surveyed checked Instagram at least twice a week.

Rose Richardson, 14, is an active social media user. She said she sees it having both a negative and positive impact on her self-confidence.

She said sometimes she can look at people on social media and be glad that she doesn’t act a certain way.

At the same time, she said she compares her weight to others and said it can become a cycle.

“Social media is definitely a place where comparing is your worst enemy,” Richardson said.

She said she sees girls her age acting older or inappropriate to get attention on Instagram.  Though she admits that “likes” give her a self-confidence boost, she said it shouldn’t be about that.

She said people used to post something on social media with the objective of sharing with friends or family.

“Now I feel it’s mostly for popularity and ‘fame’ on the internet and to have a status,” she said.

Principal of Compass Content Marketing and Social Media Lead at Humber College, Emily Baillie, said this behavior is concerning. Social media becomes dangerous when it’s used as a tool to compare oneself to another, she said.

“We start to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have,” she said.

Baillie said that we often use social media to portray the highlights of our lives which can trigger feelings of inadequacy or jealousy when looking at another person’s social media feed.

She said everyone can contribute to making social media more positive by sharing positive content and avoiding complaining or engaging in negative conversations. She said to focus on how you feel when you’re using social media as opposed to the number of “likes”.

“Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes reality with everyone else’s highlight reel, and avoid spending too much time on social media in general,” Baillie said.

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