Does Instagram negatively impact student spending habits?
Is Instagram to blame for bad student spending habits? Source: Kevin Grieve/Unsplash

Last year, a public relations student moved to New York City for an internship that only paid her travel stipend.

Wrapped up in the seemingly perfect images Instagram users display to portray their NYC lifestyles, she wanted to feel the same way – and was willing to spend whatever she had to to get there.

Relying on her savings and ignoring her student debt, she began taking out multiple credit cards and managed to save from a part-time retail job.

After ending up with US$10,000 in debt, she then blamed Instagram for distracting her with enticing advertisements, idealistic imagery and the pressure to appear wealthier than she actually was.

Is Instagram trapping students in these little square boxes of imagery? Source: Luke Van Syl/Unsplash

Is Instagram to blame for student spending habits?

With one billion monthly users, there’s no doubt that many Instagrammers are aspiring, current students and graduate students.

For Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, social media can be highly addictive, “The very nature of scrolling impacts our mental health. It’s hard for anything to compete with the constant high that comes from checking for new posts, getting new likes, or being retweeted. Virtually every aspect of social media is designed to activate the pleasure centres of the brain.”

To highlight several red flags, you may have an Instagram addiction if you’re:

– Using your Instagram page to portray an alternate or desired lifestyle

– Engaging in Instagram by scrolling and ‘liking’ while in lectures or while supposed to be studying

– Losing track of time and spending hours online

– Needing to purchase new things in order to show them off to your followers

– Ignoring important work or life tasks to update your Instagram feed instead

Instagram can negatively impact your daily routine and mental well-being, it could well be the cause of overspending due to the vast amount of time it consumes.

Social media is swaying our gaze towards the screens rather than reality. Source: Rawpixel/Unsplash

The ways Instagram entices students to spend


By favouring a particular influencers on Instagram, students may soon find themselves copying their spending habits.

For instance, an influencer is adverting a new backpack to wear on-campus, an AI-enabled calculator to enhance your study experience, or a membership card that gets your exclusive university offers. The products seem to be endless and often lead to contagious consumer habits.

University accounts

University Instagram accounts will also entice students to spend by posting links to their merchandise page or selling tickets for student events.

It’s not just independent brands that try their luck – as long as students keep spending money on their promotional materials, academic institutions keep their marketing flow stable and steady.

Student discounts

Many brands on Instagram will target their student audience by regularly posting flashy images of their latest student discounts.

With just over 100k followers, the student offers company Unidays mischievously masks their discounts among other eye-catching images. But now and then, they’ll post advertorial images like this to catch your gaze…and your bank account details:

These are just a few ways in which Instagram has the power to trap and attract students’ bank accounts.

Adding to their existing student debt, it’s a frightening and materialistic platform to get swept into.

However, its not just the companies or the influencers that are at fault – it’s also the students.

Remember, we all have the ability to tap the ‘buy’ button, so to blame Instagram may just be a scroll too far…

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