Finstagram and Teens
Recently, parents have asked me about Finstagram. Some parents aren’t sure what Finstagram or Finsta is. So, they’ve contacted me to ask about it. Others have simply contacted me because they want parents to be aware of Finstagram.
So, what is Finstagram?
First, Finstagram isn’t an app. So, you won’t find it by looking in the iOS or Google Play Store. Instead, Finstagram is the practice of setting up a 2nd Instagram account with the express purpose of keeping that Instagram account on the “down low.” It’s basically a “fake Instagram account.”
Here’s all the terminology you need to know:
Instagram: an online photo sharing social web service that lets you share your life with friends through a series of pictures captured with a mobile device.
Rinsta= Real+Instagram: Your real Instagram account
Finsta=Fake+Instagram: Your fake Instagram account
Spam Account: This is also a secondary Instagram account. Teens use it just like a Finsta account. They create an Instagram “spam” account specifically for sharing their more personal, unpolished, rough pictures with their inner circle. So why call it a Spam Account? Well, the hope is people see the word “spam” and avoid their account. This helps to keep their account private. Everyone wants to avoid spam, right?! Teens will often use a version of their primary Instagram account with the term spam to get the username for their spam account. So, their username might look something like “spam_leahn.”
Note: Teens can use either a Finsta or Spam account in the same way. I’ll refer to them both using Finstagram or Finsta below.
How does Finstgram Work?
Users set up a 2nd Instagram account. They keep it private. Then, they invite a select group of friends to their Finsta account.
Why Have a Finstagram Account?
Teens want a place to post silly or embarrassing photos and videos of themselves.
Remember, Instagram photos are usually edited and curated, so you look your best. Many teens want a place to share their unfiltered, real-life moments. They want to hold onto the moments that make their friends laugh. And, often these photos aren’t the most flattering “Instagram worthy” photos.
Teens fear monitoring from school authorities, employers, or parents.
Some say teens don’t understand or care about digital privacy. But this isn’t actually true at all. Teens want to make an impact on the world, but that doesn’t mean they want those in authority over them monitoring their every move online. Teens today are no different than teens in the past–they crave a place all their own. Finstagram fulfills this need.
Teens sometimes use Finsta accounts to ensure privacy.
Finstagram accounts are virtually non-traceable. If someone you don’t want to know about your Finstagram account catches you, it’s easy to change the account name and appearance with no need to delete the account. This gives fake Instagram accounts a big advantage over fake Snapchat and Facebook accounts, both of which can easily be traced back to the user.
How Do I Know if My Child Has a Finsta Account?
Simple, right? You might be thinking, openly asking will never work with my teen. I hope that doesn’t prevent you from trying. Remember, it’s important to keep open lines of communication with your teen. So, first try asking them. Need a way to ask them?
“[Teen’s Name], I’ve been reading about Finsta. I know you could create Instagram accounts without me ever knowing about it. But trust is an important foundation of our family. So, I really don’t want you to have hidden social media accounts. I want us to be able to be open and honest with each other always. Even if we sometimes disagree. Plus, Finsta accounts always carry the risks of screenshots and revenge. Meaning there is always the chance a photo you don’t intend to be public can go public.”
Check their phone
Instagram gives users the ability to switch back and forth between accounts easily. Those of us using Instagram for business rejoiced the day they added that feature.
This feature also means teens can easily go between two accounts as well. To see if your teen has a 2nd account, you can check the Instagram app on their device. Click on their profile on the bottom right-hand corner. Now look at their username at the top. Do you see an arrow next to it like mine? If you do, you can click to see other Instagram accounts in use. You might spot the Finsta account here.
Check their followers
Sometimes teens will follow their own Finsta account. So, check their followers. Remember the name is going to be different. But you might be able to spot it or the profile image as something you recognize from your teen. Remember to look for users with “spam_xx.”
What Should I Do if I Find Out My Teen Has a Finstagram Account?
First, don’t panic. And don’t automatically assume the worst. Most teens aren’t using Finstagram to cyberbully others. And, many teens aren’t posting graphically inappropriate images.
But kids do need to understand everything they post online has the potential to go public. This includes a secret Instagram account under a fake name! It’s as simple as their friends taking screenshots of a picture and posting it elsewhere online.
Have a heart to heart discussion with your teen about why they created a Finstagram account. Get access to it and see what they are posting. This also means checking to see the comments they have made to others.
What Should I Do if I Find Out My Teen Has Been Bullying Others?
Talk to your kid about their behavior.
Oftentimes bullies have been bullied or have some emotional issues that need attention. So, give your child a safe place to talk.
Come up with a plan to address the damages. This includes apologizing to those who have been hurt and limiting the use of digital devices. It’s likely you’ll want to include teachers, family members, clergy, or therapists who can offer support and help get to the root of the problem. Be sure your child understands in most states, cyberbullying is illegal conduct.
Sign up for my newsletter and get Tech Talk Conversation Cards FREE!
As parents we know we need to talk to our kids about technology, social media, and online safety. But, many times we just need help getting started. Tech Talk Conversation Cards can help. You’ll find over 50 questions on technology, social media, cyber-bullying and sexting.