Staff Ed: Students should be careful when using social media

Social media, and more specifically, “finstas” can be tools to connect with the outside world; however, they also perpetuate oversharing and other unhealthy online habits.

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The past few years have shown a rise in the number of social media users, especially in teens, and one of the most popular social media apps is Instagram, a photo and video sharing site for users all across the world. Today, many Instagrammers have taken their social media to the next level by not only having a normal Instagram account, but a second private account as well. While primary Instagram accounts, or rinstas, are easily accessible, open to a wide range of followers, and showcase the highlights from a user’s life, finstas, short for “fake Instagram accounts,” are a secondary and more under the radar account used to share posts with a smaller and restricted number of followers. These second accounts are used for a wide array of different reasons, and although they can be a great tool in order to connect with others and talk with friends, they have the potential to lead to unhealthy online habits.

“Finstas” have exploded in popularity in the last few years and can serve various purposes. Many accounts are harmless; they serve the sole function of following other finsta accounts or are an easy way to communicate and joke with close friends on a social media platform. Because many people use their finstas to open up about their lives, including information about daily struggles, these accounts can provide an avenue to grow in friendships. Finstas can become a network of users and serve as a way to eliminate some of the superficiality of social media, as not everything shared on finsta accounts are perfect moments or pictures from the user, unlike rinstas.

However, these accounts have the potential to be taken too far. While using social media to share daily events with friends is not in itself harmful, some finstas can become toxic, perpetuating unwise online habits.

For example, oversharing personal details may elicit a fleeting approval from followers, but this immediate gratification is superficial and shouldn’t be relied on. It leaves users feeling temporarily fulfilled, but it does not help anyone with real struggles or issues. Instead of posting on private accounts, people should seek professional help for their problems or talk in person with family or close friends.

The sense of security finsta owners have that their account is private and can’t be shared quickly can also lead to unhealthy posting habits. Some users feel comfortable posting about illegal activities, partying, and inappropropriate content, thinking that only those who follow them will see. However, these posts can potentially be shared with the world through a simple screenshot, and become accessible to future schools and employers.

Private Instagrams have taken the social media platform by storm. When used in a conscious manner, finstas can be a way to grow in friendships and connect with the world of social media, but it is important to realize the potential dangers and harmful habits that can stem from an improper use of finstas. Students should work to mitigate those pitfalls not only on Instagram, but all social media platforms to stay safe online and protect reputations for the future.

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