Social Media Update: Teens and “Finstas”

For some teens, one Instagram account isn’t enough these days. They are turning to secret Instagram account termed “Finstas” (a combination of the words, “fake” and “Instagram”) in order to share more private images and videos with their closest friends.

A recent panel of teenagers attending Business Insider’s IGNITION conferenced explained why “Finstas” are popular. “You’ll have a regular Instagram, and you’ll have hundreds of followers there, and on your Finsta you’ll have a fake username and it’ll just be your best friends, the people you’re friends with, and you post funny or embarrassing pictures,” one teen on the panel said.

The normal Instagram account is carefully managed to present a polished image of a teen’s more public digital self, while the Finsta allows teens to share unfiltered content with a small circle of closest friends.

“It’s not that I necessarily like [Finsta],” a teen named Dylan said at the teens panel at Business Insider’s Ignition conference. “It’s just that it’s required when you’re on instagram. You put stuff up on instagram you want people to see and your finsta is just for photos that your close friends enjoy.”

What this means for parents:
• Do you know if your teenager has a Finsta? If not, ask your teen.
• Remember that part of adolescence has always included teens sharing semi-private or private information with their closest friends. Finstas are a modern method for kids to do this in the digital age.
• Discuss social media with kids. Focus on both the positive and negative aspects of using picture/video-based apps, as well as the importance of protecting one’s reputation — even when posting content among their closest friends.
• The expectations you’ve set with your teen regarding social media still apply. If you haven’t set any expectations, get the process started. There’s no time like the present.
• Keep current on what picture and video apps are on your teen’s phone, tablet, or computer.
• Make sure your kids appropriately use the Instagram app privacy settings.

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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