There’s a new trend in Instagram, and your children may not be letting you in on it: Finsta, which stands for Fake Instagram.
Finsta is a term teens have coined to describe a workaround to avoid the oversight of parents checking in on their Instagram accounts. In other words, Finsta is a secret Instagram account that teens have as a way to share their images to only a select group of people (i.e. definitely not their parents or guardians). Popular with those ages 12 – 17, most adults don’t know the Finsta accounts exist.
Finstas vs Instas
Thanks to documentaries like Social_Animals, it’s no secret that Instagram is a highly-curated world for teens. Photos on accounts are extremely edited or altered and tell of a story of an alternate lifestyle than what really exists for most.
But, over on Finsta accounts, there is no pressure for teens to post things like that. On Finsta, the secret accounts show the true(er), less inhibited lives of teens where pictures range the gamut of goofy and rebellious to more risque photos that are personal and private.
Here, secret accounts are on lockdown, set to private and typically only followed by an exclusive group of friends. Accounts are set up under pseudonyms versus actual names, making it nearly impossible for parents (or monitoring programs) to know they exist.
Why are teens creating secret Instagram accounts?
Obviously, one of the reasons teens create secret Instagram accounts is to avoid parents or guardians who want to know about what they do; teens show a different side of their lives on Finsta accounts and parents aren’t privy to that information.
For some teens, secret Instagram accounts show a more mischievous or promiscuous side, including illegal behavior like underage drinking, drug use or sexual photos.
However, others have them as an outlet for humorous and silly photos they think are too embarrassing for their real Instagram account. And, others use Finsta accounts to show a more vulnerable side, sharing private feelings and images of themselves filter-free and unedited.
Regardless of the reason these secret Instagram accounts are created, the bottom line is they exist because they don’t want everyone to see this glimpse into their lives. It’s an outlet to show their “real” selves without having to keep up with the pressure of picture-perfect posts on Instagram.
And, as all teens do, they follow the masses, so more are creating these accounts to fit in with their close friends who are doing the same.
How do you know if your child has a secret Instagram account
There are a few ways to determine if your child has a secret Instagram account:
- Ask them
Give your child the opportunity to be honest with you and tell you that they have a secret Instagram account. If you can get them to talk about it, steer the conversation to why they feel they need a secret account.
- Do some digging
Instagram added the capability to switch back and forth between multiple accounts without having to log in and out. When you look at the Instagram app on your child’s phone, go to their profile and look next to the username at the top. If you see a down arrow next to it, click the arrow and any other accounts that they are their logged into should pop-up.
- Follow their followers
Check your child’s followers and who they are following. Often, they will follow their own secret account. Keep in mind the username of their secret account will be under an alias name so it may be difficult to find.
Should parents be worried about secret Instagram accounts?
Just because a teen has a secret Instagram account doesn’t mean parents need to worry. It can be a positive outlet; a place where your teen can be themselves with a group of close friends.
But if your teen is using a Finsta to show their “real” or alternative persona that depicts their wild side or you discover deeper, darker issues there is reason for concern.
Often, teens forget that even secret, private accounts are never private. Anyone can snap a screenshot and pass images/posts along.
What should parents do if their teen has a secret Instagram account?
Approach the conversation about secret Instagram accounts with an open-mind. Initiate a conversation with your teen and remind them about the dangers of posting private information and photos online and that nothing is private.
Teach your children about the value of surrounding themselves with people they can truly trust, both online and in real life.
Model these behaviors in your own relationships and online. Help remove the pressure kids feel to fit in and exist in a world where social media are important and pressure mounts to fit in.
What else can you do regarding secret Instagram accounts?
To learn how you can teach your children safe online practices, sign up for our educational webinars or learn about Digital Citizen Academy’s home program.