THIS POST IS SHARED WITH PERMISSION FROM DR. DELANEY RUSTON, MD, FILMMAKER OF SCREENAGERS. Read more of these articles on Dr. Ruston’s site: Tech Talk Tuesdays
It is very common for teens to have two Instagram accounts or even three or four. Their main, public-facing one is referred to as their Rinsta (as in Real + Instagram). Their second account is called their Finsta (Fake + Instagram) and is in addition to their main account. Teens use their Finsta as a place to post pictures and videos meant only for their closest friends to see.
Since teens’ main accounts generally have a lot more people following them, including adults, the posts on them are curated whereas Finstas offer teens a place to be themselves and post unfiltered content. And sometimes a place to hide things from their parents.
I talked to a 14-year old named Isabel who has a Rinsta and a Finsta. She tells me that she uses her Finsta daily to vent to her closest friends. Her main Instagram account only has a few well-composed photos on it. While her Rinsta has over 1,000 followers, her Finsta only has 64.
Isabel says that she posts things to her Finsta that she thinks her friends might find funny or relatable. But some teens also use their Finsta accounts to express deep emotional feelings. I’ve heard stories of middle-schoolers posting something that made their friends concerned, like signs of a possible eating disorder or clinical depression.
How do we give teens privacy and autonomy while at the same time knowing that they may be posting to reach out for emotional support around something that we adults need to know about? We want them to express themselves but, of course, we worry about what they express and to whom. And we know that, when hard emotions are happening, hiding behind a screen can be easier than dealing directly. It is key that our teens reach out face-to-face when things are hard. Social media and the Internet can allow an adolescent to isolate themselves which will likely exacerbate their sad feelings.
This is where having regular conversations with your teen is key, so that when something is really wrong they will come to you. Recently I heard from my friend about how happy she was that when she recently spoke with a group of middle schoolers about that issue, they all seemed to understand that if they felt that their friend was in danger of hurting themselves or someone else, that they should contact an adult.
Here are are few questions for your kids and teens to get the conversation going today:
- Do you have a Finsta? If so, who do you let in as a friend?
- How often do you post on Instagram and to which account?
- How do you choose between accounts to post pictures?
- If you don’t use Instagram, why doesn’t it appeal to you?
How about all your other social media sites, i.e. VSCO, Snapchat, social video games, etc. how do you choose who to be friends with and what you post?
For you adults, share with the kids how you choose who to accept as a friend on the platforms you use whether that’s Instagram, Facebook or Linkedin, and what kinds of things you post.