It is not so much the “Insta”, but the “finsta” that concerns parents of tweens and teens.
As of June, active Instagram users topped 1 billion, cites statista.com. More than 200 million accounts have opened since this time last year.
Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app that allows friends, family members, clients, colleagues, etc., to keep up with one another on a friendly or even professional level. Just like with Facebook, an Instagram user may have hundreds or even thousands of followers. But a “finsta,” a portmanteau of the words “fake” and “Instagram,” is intended for a private audience, connoting secrecy. It is not so much the Insta, but the finsta that concerns parents of tweens and teens.
The pressure to share idealized lives on Instagram drives some young people to open an alternate finsta where they might show an uninhibited version of themselves. While a great many finstas are harmless, points out commonsensemedia.org, presenting “more authentic versions of themselves (in an unattractive outfit or with a silly expression),” many more are platforms for posting hook-up comments, nude photos and party shots.
“According to several reports, finsta is where teens feel they can go wild …” shared Real Simple last July.
What parents — and especially their children — need to understand is that even “private” photos and messages have a way of living forever on the Internet and within social media’s realm. Employers and academic institutions could gain access to adverse content, undesirable and inappropriate images might be screenshot and shared, or a seductive or pornographic pose may become embroiled in revenge porn — posted widely as a prank or to cause emotional harm.
Worried your child may have a finsta? Real Simple offers a way to find out: “Go to the Instagram app on 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.”