Technology Tuesday: The Story on Finstas

Have you heard your child use the word “Finsta?” (I think regularly, if our grandparents were to sit in on a conversation with teenagers, they would be as confused as if someone were speaking a foreign language.  Finsta…tweets…snaps…what are we talking about, anyway?).

So, here’s the story on finstas.  A finsta is what it sounds like—or what it sounds like if you’re 15 and thinking this way—a fake Instagram account.  (Get it…fake Insta?) I hear about them weekly now in my counseling office.  Middle school girls tell me they have finstas with their very closest friends.  “You know, there are pictures you only want your best friends to see—like things you think are funny.  All the other pictures you put on your real social media account.”  (Again…real social media account…where are we?)  Another girl told me that she had a finsta that she only let her friends and boys follow, so she could put up sexier pictures.  I’ve heard of finstas that exist to show off self-harm, and finstas for drunk pictures.  In other words, you would just see photos of kids standing around someone, laughing, while he threw up.  Literally.

Finstas may be harmless…I guess.  But we need to talk to our kids about them, to help them understand what harmless is.  Drunk finstas or self-harm finstas or even sexy finstas certainly aren’t.  Pictures of your best friends may be meant to be harmless, even to keep people from feeling left out.  But, as one girl told me recently, “they only post so everyone else could see who they were with and how much fun they were having.”  If a finsta is for “best friends”, they should treat each other that way, and not post photos that would make anyone feel left out.

As a dear friend of our says, Think before you post:

1)Would you share it with your grandmother?

2)Share it on the news?

3)Want it said about you?

The same post rules can apply to a finsta.  If your son or daughter has Instagram, ask them if they have a finsta.  (They’ll think you’re really cool just for asking).  Talk to them about why they have it.  As you monitor their social media, monitor their finsta, too.  You can get to the finsta by clicking on their username at the top of the page, and seeing if any other usernames drop down.  And stick with us for more information on technology and social media, and all the ways the kids we love are using and hiding it, at raisingboysandgirls.com.