This is part two of my three-part series on Understanding Instagram. Read part one here.
What in the round world is a Finstagram?
Well, if you think about it, Instagram is nothing but perfectly curated photo posts making life appear pretty perfect. At least, with teens. Because with teenagers who won’t speak up in Bible class because they’re afraid they’ll be made fun of for what they say would never post anything on Instagram that wasn’t perfect.
There’s a side to everyone that we see represented on social media - the perfect selfies, the glamorous events, the beautiful friends. But there’s also a side that we don’t take pictures of - the time we spilled a whole gallon of milk on the kitchen floor or just waking up with bed head in the morning. The latter is more real life, and teens have taken to creating Finstagrams (or fake Instagrams) as a way of sharing photos from their lives that they may not want anyone to see.
Don’t jump to conclusions here - most teens aren’t creating these to share inappropriate or naked photos of themselves - Instagram is pretty good at not allowing that. But the thing to remember here is that even if everything they are sharing is harmless, they still have an account that you as a parent do not know about.
Ask your kids if they have a Finstagram and you’re likely to get some raised eyebrows.
Think about this. As a teen, you never wanted to hang out with your parents - in fact, it was the last thing you wanted to do. You just wanted to be wherever they were not, even if that meant hanging out in the grocery store parking lot.
Teens have moved that mentality to the digital space. They have made false identities and fake accounts because they want to express their creativity and their independence. The fear with something like Finstagram is that they can so easily be lured to something that is detrimental to their Christian walk - and that they are keeping something from you.
Finstagrams should be a teaching tool for us as parents to tell our kids that it’s completely okay to be just who you are on social media just as in real life. There is a growing disconnect in young people where they separate their digital lives with their real ones - and we need to be teaching the opposite. That your digital life and real life go hand in hand. We’re all living on these devices now, and if we’re trying to hide something, that’s wrong.
If you think your child may have a Finstagram, simply open the Instagram account on their phone, tap on the Profile icon at the bottom right corner, and see if they have any additional accounts listed under their main account. Kids are likely following their own Finstagrams and so are their close friends, so looking at who they follow is important as well.