If your middle schooler (or high schooler) has a phone, they likely use the social media platform Instagram. Instagram burst on the scene in late 2010 and exploded in popularity among teenagers, primarily because it was where their parents were not. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of teenagers have one or more Instagram accounts.
Why would a teenager have more than one Instagram account?
Many teenagers have their “real” account where they post photos and videos for all of their followers to see (including parents); this account tends to be the persona they don’t mind the world and their parents seeing. It’s likely G rated. If a parent asks, “Let me see your Instagram account,” this is what they can show parents or share with new friends they meet in person or online.
Since teenagers (especially middle school girls) are overly concerned with what they post and how often they post, they wanted to share more but not be “spammy.” And they wanted to have more fun with it – to be themselves, be silly, be expressive; however, only to a limited audience.
Insert Finsta or Spam accounts.
The Finsta or Spam is the other account or accounts. Finsta is short for Finstagram – the term was coined for Fake Instagram. It may also be referred to as a Spam account. Even though it may still be G rated, it’s not as polished as the “real” account. The follower count is usually smaller, geared towards a closer set of friends. The content is may be like the blooper reel of a movie or the funny “inside jokes” that only a certain group of people will get. On this account, teenagers can share more often without being considered spammy, or they share the unpolished, real-life, funny stuff that enriches their lives. There are also middle school entrepreneurs that may use a Finsta account to sell slime or clothes to earn extra money – these are usually short-lived, though.
For the most part, Finsta and Spam are innocuous. But most teenagers want to keep them hidden from their parents in case the language is vulgar or if the content shifts beyond a G rating. Think of it of almost like a diary from the 1980’s … which more girls used than guys.
Finsta and Spam accounts can cross a line, however. Every year, accounts get created to highlight drama in a school culture. Accounts are created to share hook ups, match ups, even to attack students or teachers. Most of the time, these accounts are meant to share details about students (and teachers) that are untrue and degrading. Pictures and captions are posted with the intent of hurting someone’s feelings or sharing a rumor that would negatively affect a student’s reputation. It’s online bullying: bottom line. The creators of the account proclaim the anonymity of the account, so no one knows where the information is coming from … except the owners of the account.
If you’re wondering if your child has more than one Instagram account, please see the images below with directions. It only takes a couple of seconds to do. Just be sure you don’t allow your child time to log out of the accounts before look – the element of surprise will yield the truth.