A lot of teens have a fake Instagram account, or “Finsta,” because they think it allows them more privacy than a real Instagram account.
Finstas are usually more private and closed than accounts with the owners’ reals name on them.
To teens who have a Finsta, it may feel like a place where they can be more authentic. To post on a real Instagram account, a lot of teens feel pressured to post every day, use multiple filters, and produce perfect photos of themselves living a perfect life. And they also feel pressured to get tons of likes, views, and comments.
On Finsta, they feel like they can be more honest about their feelings and looks and have more honest and meaningful conversations.
This is all very positive and can actually enable adolescents to find community and connection.
But because the audience is so closed, Finsta is also a place where teens might feel free to post pictures of drinking, drug-use, or physically revealing pictures. The posters feel like the inappropriate content won’t get shared. But have you ever heard of the word “screenshot”? This is where Finstas can become unsafe.
Adolescents sometimes create Finstas because their parents have cracked down on their social media use, maybe confiscating their passwords or even shutting down their accounts. They do this because they’re afraid for their kids.
It’s important for everyone, including adolescents, to remember that “privacy” doesn’t really exist online, even with fake accounts. And there can be consequences if you share inappropriate content.
Many parents and adolescents are not used to talking about social media. Instead, adolescents get into the habit of hiding their social media use, and parents in turn try to manage and control their use by confiscating devices, passwords, and so on.
But what if the Finsta is being used for beneficial purposes, rather than inappropriate ones? It’s important for parents not to make assumptions about kids’ behavior, and it can be hugely helpful for kids to trust the adults in their lives enough to actually talk about their social media use when their parents bring it up. They may learn something important about how to use the internet.
And they might get closer to their parents, too!