Date Presented

Spring 4-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Alisha Marciano

Second Advisor

Dr. Virginia Cylke

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Kicklighter


With the increasing use of social media in the daily lives of undergraduate college students, it is important to investigate the effects of social media on psychological well-being and cognitive function. Lillard and Peterson (2011) found that overstimulating children’s televisions shows, such as SpongeBob, negatively impacted children’s impulsive behaviors and attention. The current research focused on emerging adults and considered the effect of overstimulation of social media, specifically Instagram, on anxiety level, self-esteem, fear of missing out (FoMo), and memory. Participants were randomly assigned into either the control (coloring on an Ipad) or experimental (Instagram stimulation) group and after a set of pre-test questions regarding self-esteem and anxiety, participants were exposed to cognitive stimulation for 10 minutes. Then participants completed a post-test questionnaire of self-esteem, anxiety, memory recall, and fear of missing out (FoMo). Researchers hypothesized that the Instagram stimulation group would have lower levels of self-esteem, higher anxiety, higher levels of FoMo, and lower memory recall than those in the coloring group. Effects of exposure to Instagram has not been thoroughly researched, therefore it is an important avenue to study as emerging adults have an increasing habit of looking at Instagram on a regular basis. An independent samples t-test and a mixed-model ANOVA found that those exposed to Instagram had heightened levels of FoMo. In addition, participants, regardless of condition, experienced a significant increase in self-esteem from pre- to post-test. Future research may consider examining the effects of stimulation of Instagram regarding short-term memory and self-esteem.