Dip in grades prompts student influencer to call a halt

Sixteen-year-old Ashley Tay started her Instagram account two years ago, seeing it as a way to try out new products without having to spend too much money.
Sixteen-year-old Ashley Tay started her Instagram account two years ago, seeing it as a way to try out new products without having to spend too much money.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT OF ASHLEY TAY

Secondary 4 student Ashley Tay, who has about 4,000 followers on Instagram, was easily spending three to four hours on social media each day.

The 16-year-old St Margaret's Secondary School student might have continued spending all these hours updating her account if not for her poor showing at the mid-year examinations.

"I was having photo shoots about three times a week at one point. I was so busy, I couldn't keep up with my studies and my grades were dropping a little," said Ashley, who has also taken on gigs for sponsors such as blogshops.

"That was when I realised I needed to stop."

Ashley, whose parents created Instagram accounts to "keep up" with her and her 13-year-old sister, now avoids using social media platforms, even to the extent of deleting some applications from her mobile phone.

She admitted, however, that it was not easy. "I try to resist the urge (to use social media). But I do find myself re-installing and un-installing. I realised how much social media has an impact on my life, so I am trying to take action," she said.

She now spends most of her time revising for the upcoming national exam, but does not rule out using social media again after that.

Ashley, who started her Instagram account two years ago, saw it as a way to try out new products without spending too much money.

While some brands have approached her to promote their items, she has also contacted a few.

"My Instagram account was getting more popular, so I decided to try asking them. And it doesn't take much of my time to help them get more business," she said.

"I am trying to save up for university. I try to scrimp and save as much as I can. If I didn't get these sponsorships, I probably wouldn't have as many trendy clothes."

Despite this, she does not see being a "social influencer" as a future career. Instead, Ashley, who is looking to enter a junior college after her O levels, hopes to fulfil her childhood ambition of working in a research lab.

She said: "I aim to enter a local university and pursue a degree that would allow me to have a stable and well-paying job in the future."

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'Dip in grades prompts student influencer to call a halt'. Print Edition | Subscribe