WHAT IS “FINSTA” AND WHY SHOULD PARENTS AND EDUCATORS BE ALERT?

One of the most worrying aspects of social networks, from the perspective of parents, is the vulnerability to which their children are exposed due to what is essential to the game: showing their lives to the world.

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But what happens when the life that is shown is not a true life and you want to find a way to "let off steam" from the pressure of perfection that is intended to be promoted through selfies and “wonderful” lives?

In September of last year, the National Cybersecurity Alliance published the results of their study, based on the United States population (which due to the effects of globalization basically it would have a great affinity with what may be happening in Colombia), about the online safety attitudes and behaviors of families. In their research, they asked parents and children about their experiences on the Internet, what social networks they used, how they interacted with networks in their family circles, and what challenges they faced. The study revealed a competition problem for both parents and educational institutions, especially schools: most adults have NO idea what their children are doing on the Internet.

The researchers found that more than 60% of teens reported having online accounts that their parents were unaware of. By contrast, only 28% of those parents suspected that their teens had these secret accounts. Clearly, there is a disconnect. 

An excellent example of the type of accounts that many parents are unaware of are the so-called "END".

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WHAT THE HELL IS FINSTA?

You should not feel bad if you do not understand the term, and if you do, congratulations, it is very possible that you have already become aware of this trend, but also, congratulations are due to the fact that in many cases, not even the adolescents themselves know the term and maybe they are already using a FINSTA account, but they just call it a private account. The meaning of "END" is the union of two words:

FAKE: FALSE in English and INSTAGRAM = “FINSTA”. Coincidentally, the play on words works perfectly in our language, so the term can be handled in the same way in Colombia and Spanish-speaking countries.

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The interaction model offered by the platform Instagram is to reach as many people as possible, clearly many totally unknown, because of the possibility of achieving something, even if it is little of the long-awaited "fame" or popularity on social networks, while exposing "everyday life". ” in 1:1 (square) aspect images. So the success in Instagram It is measured by how many more followers you get.

What is Finsta Colombia

On the other hand, the game is different when you have an account FINSTA, since the purpose of this account is to share it only with very "close" people, known directly, but only when it comes to an intimate circle of friends, that is: in an account FINSTA The adolescent's family has no place, since its purpose is that young people can have an escape from social pressure and be more "real" people before that small group of friends.

This is where the matter finds a twist bordering on the absurd, since, in short, young people lead perfect but “FAKE” lives on their “OFFICIAL” Instagram accounts, but on their “FAKE” FINSTA account, they reveal their true , personality and reality.

Although the general objective of a FINSTA account is not to share nude photos or do SEXTING as is done on other platforms, which, by the way, are in default of taking more drastic measures in this regard, it is still valid to be vigilant.

An example of this is the adolescent amy wesson, a teenager consulted by the newspaper The New York Times in an article on the subject. Wesson has more than 2.700 Instagram followers, but only 50 followers on his secondary F-INSTAGRAM account. When asked about the difference between the two, Wesson pointed out that he uses FINSTA to “post stuff you wouldn't want other people to see beyond your buddy-buddies, like unattractive pictures, random stories about your day, and drunk photos. of parties”.

However, in other cases, the purposes are more basic and much less “clandestine”, since sometimes FINSTA accounts are simply spaces to share thoughts, jokes, plans and stay connected with those closest to you. In this context, a FINSTA account basically becomes a simple WhatsApp group.

What this trend also shows is that teens are smart enough to realize that social media presents a constructed image rather than reality, but the pressure to achieve that image can be exhausting and the fear of not meeting the “perfect” online persona can have devastating consequences for some.

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Young people lead perfect but “FAKE” lives on their “OFFICIAL” Instagram accounts, but on their “FAKE” FINSTA account, they reveal their true, personalities and are more “REAL”.

Madison Holleran Espn2

In 2015,  ESPN the Magazine did a very revealing investigation into the life and tragic death of Madison Holleran, a young track star athlete from the University of Pennsylvania who committed suicide last January 2014, due to depression fueled by unrealistic expectation of happiness. 

“Young women growing up on Instagram are spending a significant portion of each day absorbing the filtered images of others as they walk through their own, unfiltered realities,” writes Kate Fagan. In a recent survey by the Girl Scouts, nearly 74% of girls agreed that other girls tried to look "cooler than they are" on social media. 

You might be thinking that if this is the case, wouldn't it be better to have a “realistic” account for a change, in the built-to-like world of social media? But in reality the issue is not so simple. While these private accounts can serve as a turning point for those who want a more genuine social media experience, they can also lead to a greater (false) sense of security about what they share online. 

The increasing use of Finstas by teens should be a source of concern for parents and educators because there are even fewer rules and more (perceived) anonymity. For many teens, Finsta is a "just for fun" thing. And so it will be, of course, even when it's not – what they post is anonymous, until someone finds their secondary account and everything that was harmless can end up being malicious. The anonymous nature of this type of behavior is what makes it quite difficult to confront, prosecute, or even prevent.

Young women growing up on Instagram are spending a significant portion of each day absorbing the filtered images of others as they walk through their own, unfiltered realities. –Kate Fagan

In Loving Memory of Madison Holleran

Madison Holleran's Instagram account appeared to show a happy and successful freshman, but behind the scenes, the University of Pennsylvania track athlete was struggling with her mental health.

IS IT REALLY BAD FOR YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER TO HAVE A “FINSTA” ACCOUNT?

On the one hand, a false account of Instagram it demonstrates an awareness of the dangers of posting to a general audience versus a smaller group of friends, and that has its “gentle” side. The concern then arises when a teen becomes comfortable posting sensitive content to their Finsta account, or decides to use it to anonymously harass others, safe on the assumption that they won't be exposed. 

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In addition, they may feel pressure from their peers to have an account. Finsta (As stated in this article on instagram from the perspective of a teenager), and use it irresponsibly. Even the most senior and socially responsible teens can eventually succumb to the temptation to use an anonymous account in a malicious way. 

It would also be reasonable to question in principle - as the article of the NY Times– about the very idea of ​​the “need” for a teenager to open a Finsta account. If a teenager's Instagram profile and photos were a true reflection of their lives, a fake account shouldn't be necessary. 

It's important for parents and educators alike to be well-informed in all forms of social media use, and the Finstas are no different. Without this knowledge, it can be extremely difficult for parents and institutions to accurately understand the mental and emotional impact of these types of accounts on their children and students. 

The prohibition or the non-involvement of the two parties becomes a greater risk, since ignoring or turning a deaf ear, and not entering the world of social networks, is precisely the best way to expose yourself to risks. It is clear that social networks also bring great benefits of interaction, rapprochement and connection with adolescents, so it will always be better to be there than not to be there.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU DISCOVER OR SUSPECT THAT YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER HAS A “FINSTA” ACCOUNT?

The basics: talk to them. Find out if and how they're using a fake Instagram account, and continue to discuss the importance of using judgment both on as offline.

It's important to keep reminding teens (and adults for that matter) that the Internet is written in ballpoint pen, not pencil. In fact, the same technology and advances in science make it possible to erase a tattoo now, but erasing history on the Internet may basically be impossible. Any photo or video posted to a Finsta account is out of a user's control at the time it is posted. The group of friends that a teenager trusts is often a very fluid group, and all it takes is one “bad guy” friend who takes a screenshot of what he posted, to share it outside that group by opening thus forming Pandora's box and unleashing a series of events that could have disastrous consequences for all involved.

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