Teens have always hidden part of themselves from their parents.
Anyone who’s been a teen, which is all of us (remember?), can safely vouch for that. Whether it’s spraying some cheap Lynx Africa over the stale smell of ciggies on their school uniform, or the secret diary kept stashed away, it’s rare that a young person is a complete open book to mum and dad.
But as times and technology have changed, the ways of going about this have changed too.
Enter Rinsta and Finsta.
So what are they, and why are they so essential to Gen Zs?
First up, Instagram is Gen Z’s favourite and most widely used social media app with 9 in 10 young people using it regularly according to our What Gen Z Actually Do Online research. It’s significantly higher than the 60% who use TikTok on the reg.
What makes it so popular is its equal usage amongst young males and females, while TikTok skews more to females.
So with so many young people using Instagram, it was inevitable that many teens would want to keep this part of their life out of their parents’ sights.
In response to this has come the rise of Rinsta, short for ‘real Instagram’. It usually contains aesthetics, themes, and good quality photos and is the official Instagram of the user. Rinstas are public-facing, carefully curated Instagram accounts that Gen Zs use to project how they want to be perceived. Putting their best foot forward, so to speak. It’s the one mum and dad see.
Finstas, short for ‘fake Instagram’, are side accounts where Gen Zs can authentically express themselves and share funny, relatable content to a controlled audience of followers. Think silly selfies, funny memes and inside jokes.
Finstas can serve as a space for teenagers to vent, express feelings, discuss life events and escape the pressure of social media and the glare of adults.
“Parents these days can be so sheltering to their children,” a 17-year-old female from Queensland told us.
“From limiting the social media they are allowed on to whom they can have over.”
In response to such strict parenting at home, many young people will seek out greater freedom online.
“A downfall of being young in this age is that as someone my age, there is less freedom of where I can go or do,” a 15-year-old male from Victoria said.
“It seems parents are becoming more and more strict and the level of freedom that you’ll hear about from people born earlier, such as the 80’s or 70’s, doesn’t exist anymore.”
For some parents there’s a misunderstanding of why teens today are glued to their Insta accounts.
“As easy as it is for my parents to say to get off my phone, I find it physically hard to do so,” an 18-year-old female from NSW said.
“However, there are also days where social media was the one thing that lifts up my mood when the very thing bringing it down was the people around me.
“Whether it’s the motivation quotes I read daily on Instagram or the meditation videos I watch on YouTube, it has helped me in many ways to be happier at home.”
But as Delaney Ruston, MD pointed out for Screenagers, there can be a dark side to Finstas which can be concerning for parents.
“Some teens also use their Finsta accounts to express deep emotional feelings,” Ruston said.
“I’ve heard stories of middle-schoolers posting something that made their friends concerned, like signs of a possible eating disorder or clinical depression.”
So how do parents give teens the privacy and autonomy on social media they need, while acknowledging they might be posting to reach out for emotional support on issues they as parents feel they need to be aware of?
“We know that when hard emotions are happening, hiding behind a screen can be easier than dealing directly,” Ruston said.
“(Furthermore), social media can allow an adolescent to isolate themselves which will likely exacerbate their sad feelings.
“This is where having regular conversations with your teen is key, so that when something is really wrong they will come to you.”
Ruston made a few suggestions on how to get the conversation about Finstas going with your Gen Z child.
- Do you have a Finsta? If so, who do you let in as a ‘friend’?
- How often do you post on Instagram and to which account?
- How do you choose between accounts to post pictures?
- How about all your other social media sites, i.e Snapchat, social video games, etc. How do you choose who to be friends with and what you post?