Does it matter if my kid has a Finsta? Should I ask to see it?

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Trent, MI
7/3/2024
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Let’s start with a quick definition! A finsta is a “fake” Instagram account that’s typically made so someone can post images and interact with others in a more private way. Oftentimes kids and teens like to use their main Instagram account as a more curated account only posting their best moments while on their finsta they can share more imperfect candid moments. 

Conversations surrounding social media should happen early and often as a family, as these platforms can greatly impact a child or teen’s mental well-being. Even the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has pushed for a warning label on social media platforms warning parents that using the platforms might negatively impact adolescents’ mental health.

It’s crucial to set expectations surrounding social media usage - including that you will need access to monitor any accounts they have. It’s important to discuss WHY you are monitoring. Ideally this happens before they sign up for any account, but as a caregiver, it is your obligation to keep them safe and so know it is never too late to have this conversation now if you have not in the past. 

If your child or teen has a Finsta, you should have access to the content they are posting so you can monitor current and previous posts (once every few days at the least if they post frequently) to make sure it is appropriate. Finsta accounts are typically private so you will have to request access to follow your child or teen’s account. Take a look at the photos they are posting to both their Instagram grid and stories to make sure it is appropriate. Read the comments under their posts to monitor for bullies, sexual harassment, and child predators. If you come across anything inappropriate they may have posted, ask them to delete it and have a conversation about online safety.  

The key here is communication. Let them know what is appropriate for them to post and what is not to ensure they stay safe online. Start an open, honest conversation about staying safe online at a young age and continue the discussion as your child gets older. Teach them to not share identifiable or sensitive information and remind them that what goes online stays online. It’s easy to lie online, so make it clear that they are NEVER to meet up with someone they encounter online. Discuss bullying and let them know to alert a trusted adult if they encounter anyone being bullied online.  Above all else, encourage them to come to you if they ever find themselves in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

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P - Pause and reflect: Encourage them to hit the pause button before posting, sharing, or commenting on social media. Remind them to consider the potential impact of their words.

O - Own your words: Teach your teens to take responsibility for their online words and actions. Remind them that what they say or post can have long-term effects on others. Encourage kindness and empathy in their online interactions.

S - Spread positivity: Emphasize the importance of spreading positivity. Encourage your teens to think about how their posts could affect others. Challenge them to inspire, support, and uplift with their online presence.

T - Think long-term: Help your teens understand the long-term consequences of their online footprint. Remind them that college applications and future employment opportunities may be influenced by their digital presence. Encourage them to ask themselves if they want to be known as someone who spreads positivity and makes a positive impact.

If you find that your child is resistant to letting you see their Finsta or has developed an unhealthy relationship with social media, a mental health coach or therapist can be a great resource. By working with a mental health professional your teen can learn to connect with the emotions that social media use brings up, address issues such as body image and bullying, and learn tools for disconnecting. You can find more resources in the Social Media section of Digital Parenthood, including Is Instagram a safe app for your family?

Positivity is paramount, so here is a simple tool your teens can use to remind them to think before they POST

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