No Judgement vs Judgment Zone
The long and short, Finsta is a fake, or second Instagram account and Rinsta is one’s real, or first Instagram account.
But what teens say about it is that Finsta is a much more honest representation of their social media personas than their real Instagram accounts are. It is a less pressured platform where number of likes and friends don’t matter.
Instagram is about image and social acceptance, filtering photos and presenting yourself in the most put together way possible gets the likes, which gets the followers, which translates into popularity.
Sad, but true.
“Any social media account is a reflection of ourselves and they’re very curated”, says Paul Booth, associate professor at DePaul University’s College of Communication. In a recent Teen Vogue article, he goes on to describe how people tailor their behavior depending on their audience.
On Instagram, users create content for the masses, giving hundreds of people access to explore, and critique, their lives. But with finsta, “you get to curate an authentic version of yourself for the people who are following you without having to worry about how many likes you’re getting or feeling judged by your followers.”
Jennifer, a 16-year-old from a small town in Massachusetts agrees. “Finsta is just the real me, I only let my closest friends in and it is an unfiltered, crazy version of myself.”
When asked if her parents knew she had a Finsta, the answer was a quick “Hell No!”
Teens say that Finsta started, partly in response to an increase in parental spying in social media. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, around one-third of online adults (32%) report using Instagram.
To a greater extent than the other social platforms measured in this survey, Instagram use is especially high among younger adults. Roughly six-in-ten online adults ages 18-29 (59%) use Instagram, nearly double the share among 30- to 49-year-olds (33%) and more than seven times the share among those 65 and older (8%). And as was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys of social media use, female internet users are more likely to use Instagram than men (38% vs. 26%).
Many parenting experts have suggested that one way parents can ensure digital safety is to actually follow your child on their social media accounts, create your own account, friend request them and spy. I don’t agree with this approach and neither did teens, and bam!….Finsta appeared.
Much like it would be inappropriate for a mom to grab a sleeping bag and attend her daughter’s sleepover, I don’t think your best parenting comes from being on top of your child in this way.
For example, it would be smart parenting to be home the night your 13-year-old has a sleepover, in case there is a problem. However, it might not be so smart to be right in the mix, with your hand in the popcorn bowl and giggling about boys.
Parenting in cyberspace is like being home at the sleepover. You are close enough to help if there is a problem, but distant enough to give your child space for exploration and individuation.
So, Finsta is a place teens can share their real, authentic selves with less judgment and pressure than Instagram. Because it creates the illusion of being “private” as only your closest friends are usually included, it presents its own set of risks.
As private as you may think it is, there is always this thing called a screen shot. Rule of thumb…. if you don’t want a picture to be seen by the general public? DON’T POST IT ONLINE.
So, what should parents do in response to secret social media apps like Finsta?
Get smarter at parenting in cyberspace. You cannot effectively parent if you don’t know what is going on in every space your child occupies. If you never read a report card or never attend your child’s sporting events, you will be in the dark. Hands-off parenting does not work, but finding the balance between parental oversight and developmentally appropriate freedom does.
Be the smart parents who are home at the sleepover, ready to intervene if necessary. Use the parenting tool Social Judo, you won’t regret it and your child will be protected.