You may be wondering, what the heck is a “finsta”? No, it’s not the latest new app. Finsta refers to a fake Instagram account. Just add “F” to “Instagram” for “Finstagram” and shorten that to “Finsta”.
A finsta is a second Instagram account used for sharing with a smaller circle of followers. A finsta is usually a private Instagram account. While a teen’s primary account might also be private, a finsta is for close friends only. Only your BFF’s, your baes. (I can imagine my teen daughter cringing as she reads this – if she reads this!)
Why are kids creating Finstas
Instagram is likely a teen’s primary social media account and it is not uncommon to have over 100 followers, sometimes many, many more. The longer you’ve been using Instagram, the more followers you have. 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.
(Another reason for creating a finsta might be to hide social media activity from parents – sorry kids, I just outed you.)
How do I know if my child has a Finsta?
There are a few ways you can determine if your child has a second Instagram account:
1. Ask them.
2. Instagram recently introduced the ability to switch back and forth between accounts without logging out of one and logging into another. Take a look at the app on their phone. Click on their profile (icon in the lower right) and then look next to their username at the top. If you see an arrow next to it, click the arrow. If there are any other accounts in use, they will show up here. And, this is where someone can add a new account (which will require a different e-mail address than used on the primary account).
3. Take a look at their list of followers and who they are following. Your teen may be following his or her own finsta and then you’d see it here, although likely using a fake name. Oftentimes kids will collaborate on a finsta; it could be a joint venture, and they may have more than one finsta.
Should parents be worried about Finstas?
In one sense, parents could look at fake Instagram accounts as a good thing. It means your child has given some thought to what they want to share with a wider audience vs. smaller group of friends.
An area of concern in general, as noted in the NY Times article “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real”, is the very notion of a finsta account in the first place. If a teen’s Instagram profile and photos were a true reflection of their lives, a fake account may not even be necessary. As a commenter on that article put it “So, the real Instagram accounts are their fake selves, and the fake accounts are their real selves”.
And there might actually be some pressure to have a Finsta (as noted in this article about Finstagram from a teen’s perspective). So not only are teens feeling like they’re left out if they’re not on social media, they may feel it is not enough to even have just one account.
Lastly, just as with anything posted online, any photo or video posted to a finsta account is out of your control the moment you post it. While the finsta account is shared only with those you trust, that could be a fluid group especially in adolescence. A so called friend could always take a screenshot and share outside your inside circle. Always a good reminder when discussing with your kids.
So talk to your teen – they may be impressed that you’ve heard of Finstas! Find out if and how they’re using a fake Instagram account. Not up on Instagram? Check out the related articles below!