Instagram is a photo-sharing app which allows people to keep up with friends, family, coworkers or even other professionals through picture posts and stories.

Instagram is very popular among teens and TBH (to be honest), some even have more than one account, often referring to their real Instagram account, related to their real name as rinsta; and another account that is their fake Instagram referred to as finsta or maybe even a SPAM account. Generally the finsta account is more of a secret or private account with a much smaller audience of close friends and is set up under a fake name or favorite character.

The rise of the finstas began in 2017 when for the first time, Instagram allowed users to create and switch between multiple accounts. The number of new accounts has increased dramatically since then.

According to an online article on from The Conversation from March of 2018,  teens or young adults might make finstas for several reasons: to share posts with a small group of close friends; to enjoy private interests and to boost their own apparent popularity.

“Teens commonly create finstas as a space to show their silly or more vulnerable side with close friends, without being judged by others,” said The Conversation’s article.

Teens see finstas as a place where they don’t have to be doing the perfect or post the perfect picture or caption, sometimes the can just be goofy or more real.

Unfortunately, some finsta accounts may also be used to post and comment on things that are inappropriate and mean … things which they wouldn’t want associated with their real name.

“According to several reports, finsta is where teens feel they can go wild …” shared Real Simple last July.

Teens may be using their fake account to share interests which they feel might be judged by others. For example, a teenage girl who is a fan of a TV show that has a large male fan base, or vice versa. With a fake account they feel like they can pursue interests without worrying about others calling them out or mocking them.

Finally, some teens are simply attempting to increase their own popularity online by creating fake accounts to follow and comment on their real accounts showing more likes and positive comments.

We agreed with the advice in The Conversation’s article which suggests:

A private setting does not protect you from a screenshot being taken of the post and distributed – nor does it stop someone that you’re not “friends” with physically looking at content on your account, perhaps on another persons’ phone.

Additionally, you are always trackable online somehow. Even if you are using an alternate username, a screenshot of the post may still be tied to your name in a Google search result.

Whether real or fake accounts, the message to teens about social media should consistently focus on always being in control of your own reputation, sharing things online that reflect the real you, and thinking of the long-term implications of posts. Real or fake accounts – the rules stay the same.

In addition, teenagers interviewed in an article posted online by the Washington Post on Jan. 9, 2018 actually said they want their parents to be more involved in what is happening with them on social media:

“Talk with us about the apps we like to use and why. Most of you have no idea about our world.”

“Help us keep an eye on who is following us.”

“Accept that there are lots of good things on social media — it is not all bad stuff.”

“Talk with us about healthy relationships.”

Both Instagram and Snapchat have resources for parents on their websites which guide you through ways to help and find out more about what your teen is doing on social media.

If you are worried your child may have a finsta? Real Simple offers a way to find out: “Go to the Instagram app on his/her phone, and tap on the profile icon all the way on the bottom right. Once you tap that, you should see your child’s name at the top of the screen. If he or she has more than one account, an arrow will appear next to the name — click on that to see a drop-down menu of all accounts.”

Sources:

“What teens wish their parents knew about social media”, Homayoun, Ana (2018, Jan. 9) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2018/01/09/what-teens-wish-their-parents-knew-about-social-media

 

“How teens use fake Instagram accounts to relieve the pressure of perfection”, Orlando, Joanne (2018, March 6) https://theconversation.com/how-teens-use-fake-instagram-accounts-to-relieve-the-pressure-of-perfection-92105

“Find out if your tween or teen has this — Fake + Instagram = finsta” Bouknight, Deena (2018, Aug. 14) http://www.thecabin.net/zz/timeandmoney/20180814/find-out-if-your-tween-or-teen-has-this—-fake–instagram–finsta