Instagram sealed itself as a favored social media platform among various types of users. With adults taking over Facebook, Instagram felt like a safe alternative for teens to escape their parents’ eyes. In recent years, however, parents have started to join their children on Instagram. This led to teenagers creating finstas, or fake Instagrams. But what are the dangers of finstas?
What Is A Finsta?
Finstas are fake Instagram accounts that allow their owners to share private content with their closest peers. They serve as an online diary to some users. Often, finstas are a safe space for teens to vent and discuss life issues that are bothering them. Also, they act as a platform for teenagers to be their unique, unapologetic self. However, as with any social media, there are bad aspects to finstas, too.
Finstas are an easy breeding ground for cyberbullying. When users see a request from a finsta, there’s often no information to identify the account’s real owner. The secrecy of finstas give bullies the perfect chance to troll kids without consequences. Finstas are also hard to find, which means it’s hard for parents to check or control this type of account. These factors leave a space for potential bullying and hateful posts.
Dangerous Posts May Go Unaddressed.
Some finstas serve as a space to post funny and embarrassing photos teens would never show on their real Instagrams. This light-heartedness can make a serious finsta post seem like a joke. So what happens though when a child is going through emotional trauma? A user can post something about harming themselves or others that may go ignored. It’s important to take any alarming post and report them to the proper authorities online and in the real world.
The Internet is Forever.
Everything you post on the internet is there forever. But, for digital natives, that idea can be hard to grasp. In a lot of cases, finstas hold explicit content. Teens use the account’s anonymity to hide from parents and school administrators. This allows users to post about drugs and excessive drinking as well as to post sexually explicit photos without consequences. Yet, once out there on the internet, it’s there forever. This inappropriate content could destroy the user’s future if discovered. A prime example is the University of Alabama student who got expelled for finsta content that went viral.
But Finstas Can Be Positive, Too!
Despite the potential dangers of finstas, they aren’t inherently negative. In a social media age, everything that happens in our lives ends up being shared online. There is no real guarantee of privacy, even if our personal accounts have all their private settings. This can be detrimental to teenagers who need that space to come into who they really are. Finstas serve as that space. They’re the unedited, imperfect, creative versions of a self your teen might not want that random kid in Calculus three rows over to see and share with friends.
So What Can You Do?
If you suspect that your child has a fake Instagram account, talk to them about the importance of being responsible online. It’s great that they have this platform to express themselves, but everything is not meant for the internet. Encourage them to talk to an adult they trust if they experience any negative aspects of finstas.
Text by Kendal Harris