What’s on Your Teen’s 'Finsta' Account?
If you have teenagers, encourage positive "Finsta" posts
Photo courtesy of Fizkes/Shutterstock.com
I have three teenagers. When I heard my 15-year-old daughter mention something about her "Finsta" account about two months ago, I immediately — and incredulously — questioned her about exactly what it was and why she had one.
“It’s just for sharing funny stuff with close friends, Mom,” she assured me. “No inappropriate stuff — I promise.”
She added that before I had a chance to ask her about it, because she knew I would.
The “F” in “Finsta” is for “fake.” Add that to the “insta” in Instagram and you have a “Finsta,” aka fake Instagram account. Bewebsmart.com offers an eloquent explanation for why teens are creating finsta accounts:
"Teens – particularly girls – are feeling the pressure to create a beautifully curated Instagram account. They don’t just snap a photo and upload (that’s for Snapchat); on Instagram they will edit the photo within another app (perhaps VSCO), create and refine the perfect caption, then publish and hope for the likes to roll in. Having a second Instagram account, or finsta, gives them a place to share their silly pictures, inside jokes and rants, or anything not meant for public consumption. It’s a place to share with their closest friends, not every single person they’ve met since middle school. It’s a place where they can put their guard down and not worry about how many 'likes' they will receive."
There’s one more reason teens create Finsta accounts: To post something they don’t want their parents to see.
It's a harsh reality to face, but your teen may have already shared something you would have advised her against posting. It's worth asking her to discuss her Finsta activity with you, so she'll know you’re paying attention. More importantly, she'll know you care.
How Finstas Can Hurt
Teens sometimes share jokes or rants that make others feel bad, so their Finsta becomes a tool for targeting one or more followers with passive aggressive comments or baseless assumptions. This recently happened to my daughter. I was very proud when she not only told me about it, but shrugged it off and recognized the truth behind the post: This particular Finsta follower was feeling insecure and chose to hide behind comments designed to offend a group of people.
Remember, Finsta friends are supposed to be in your teen’s inner circle — the friends she can trust. When your teen becomes the target of a Finsta friend’s intentionally negative comment or joke, it can hurt. If your teen trusts you enough to share a follower’s comments that may have offended or upset her, you can use that not only as an opportunity to discuss the friend’s possible intentions, but also as an opportunity to teach her right from wrong. This will strengthen your trust and respect for each other, too.
My husband and I will not ask our daughter to delete her Finsta account as long as she uses it as a force for positivity and trusts us enough to inform us of any questionable or inappropriate Finsta activity. We look at it as an opportunity for growth because she is learning to identify and reject inappropriate behavior — a valuable life lesson.
And let’s face it, we can’t control every facet of our children’s lives. They need to know we trust them to make good decisions and do the right thing.
No matter how high you feel your teen’s self esteem is, he or she more than likely has a Finsta account. If your teen isn’t interested in having a Finsta, consider him or her in the minority — and yourself lucky. Teens, by nature, are starving for peer approval. A Finsta account is an easy way to acquire it.
Make sure your teen knows there are consequences for inappropriate Finsta posts — and that those consequences won't just come from you. More likely, her followers will deliver the consequences themselves by unfollowing her and choosing to follow Finsta friends who have something more positive, uplifting and inspiring to say.
Beth Shugg is the editor of Carolina Parent and WhereTraveler.com/Raleigh-Durham.
Edited image courtesy of Brilliantist Studio/Shutterstock.com