Meet the Researcher - Sudan Smith

Breakout Room: 25

Researcher Name: Sudan Smith
Co-presenter: Shakira Miles
Title of Research: The Effects of Social Media on College Students Body Image and Self Image
Division Representing: Social Sciences
Institution Attending: Bowie State University
Institution Location: Maryland
Home State: Florida
District Number: 5
Funding Sources: Bowie State University (SURI)

Research Experience:
I have an educational background and experience in communications, researching, and writing through my role as a blog writer through SPR Group, as well as my position in my school's SURI Program I believe that I am a qualified applicant for the position. I am current senior at Bowie State University, majoring in Communications with a specification in Public Relations (PR). I have a 3.9 G.P. A, and have been admitted to a number of school funded programs, such as SURI and McNair. Through my school's Semester-Based Undergraduate Research Institute Program (SURI), I conduct supervised primary and secondary research pertaining to the ethics and influence of the media in communications. While working as an intern at Glee Church I was promoted to communications lead in less than a year. As the communications lead, I assist in creating graphics through Canva, developing, implementing, and marketing different communications strategies for Glee Church, while also managing the communications team and the church's social media accounts through Hootsuite. 

Presentation Experience:
I have experience presenting at my school's SURI Program forums on numerous occasions, presenting the summarization of the supervised research I have conducted during my semesters in SURI to a room full of other professors and student researchers. I have conducted and participated in many classroom presentations both individually and with a group. I have also submitted prerecorded pitches, presentations, and videos for classroom assignments that have received stellar grades and feedback.

Significance of Research:       
The purpose of this study is to analyze college students' Instagram pictures, the captions of the pictures, and the comments from Instagram followers within the context of body image.    Theory: This study employs uses and gratifications in order to understand how the college students and their followers gravitate toward Instagram pictures and body image. The first assumption of the uses and gratifications theory suggests that people knowingly use media for particular purposes.   Methods: This qualitative research utilizes textual analysis to uncover the themes and patterns of selected college student Instagram pictures, their captions, and audience comments within the context of body image. In addition, this study is supplemented with frequencies from qualitative analysis to capture words, decipher phrases, and illuminate emojis. Textual analysis is the best method for this study because it will capture comments, pictures, and the captions simultaneously. Hence, the audience comments, the pictures, and the captions will be analyzed within the context of body image. A total of 30 profiles were selected for this study. Then, three pictures were selected from each profile, making a total of 30 pictures.    Findings: Preliminary findings indicate that the college students used Instagram for various reasons, including body image, wellness, friendship, and connections. Emojis and likes were used for expression of feelings toward the pictures and their captions. The findings show that the students use Instagram to fulfill their needs of showcasing their image as they gravitate toward positive comments from the followers.   

Uniqueness of Research: 
This study provides an understanding of how social media effects the self-image and body image of female college students, by analyzing the pictures, the captions of the pictures, and the comments left on pictures from Instagram followers within the context of body image.