Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Amanda Martinez; Dr. Rick Gay
This thesis delves into the various struggles Division I student-athletes undergo when balancing and managing their social media accounts. In my research, I seek to address the following questions: How does gender influence digital native athlete’s impression management on their social media pages? In addition, how is impression management impacted by the social media policy of their universities? More specifically, I address how gender and social media policy influence the ways in which individuals choose to disclose or withhold information about themselves through impression management on their Instagram pages. Although there is minimal literature regarding this specific area of focus, I connect and apply the ideas of impression management, gender schema theory as well as uses and gratifications theory to the social media sphere. I provide systematic content analysis of male and female Division I athletes Instagram accounts during the 2017-2018 basketball, tennis and soccer seasons. I argue that much of the content produced and created by athletes is not entirely authentic to that individual, but rather is shaped by societies gendered stereotypes that are perpetuated through social media as well as the athlete’s sense of surveillance through the universities explicit social media policies.