Teens are playing out their fantasies on Finsta, the Instagram account they have for friends, while parents monitoring them on Rinsta believe all is well
For teenagers, Rinsta is the real Instagram account for a wider audience that includes family, Finsta is for friends only or fake Instagram, often referred to as a spam account too
Last year, a game of online truth and dare took a 14-year-old girl to the police station. After befriending an unknown user on Instagram, the Mumbai teen started playing a 2022 version of truth and dare. You can either choose to tell the truth, or perform a difficult task. Back in the 1990s, the dare consisted of something silly, like walking up to a crush in school and asking for the time; in 2022, dares involve stripping on video via Instagram direct message. The boy took a screen recording of the video, and then started blackmailing the girl for more videos, threatening to leak the clip. After she filed a complaint, investigators found that the boy was a 13-year-old from her own school.
This is just one of the many risqué games that teenagers indulge in on Instagram and Snapchat. And it all happens on a second account—an alternative account, where they live out their secret social media life, away from the prying eyes of parents, relatives, teachers or any known entities. This is the world of Finstas. While Rinsta is the real Instagram account for a wider audience that includes family, Finsta is for friends only or is a fake Instagram, often referred to as a spam account. And the Internet is flooded with them. A 2021 study commissioned by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights showed that 30 per cent of children from the age of 10 to 18 had access to a smartphone, and 94 per cent of them were using it to access the Internet. According to database company Statista, there are 126 million Snapchat users in India, and 230 million Instagram users. Out of these, teens and adolescents in the age group of 13-19 years constitute 31 per cent, many of whom are even using it at school. A report released in 2019 by Common Sense Media said that teenagers spend an average of seven hours and 22 minutes on their phones daily.