Children often have secret lives online that can expose them to danger. Not only may they be engaging in online activity that could put them in harm’s way, but your child possibly could have a secret social media account.
There’s a trend on Instagram called Finsta, which is a fake Instagram account. Finsta accounts are popular with teenagers, and often these secret Instagram accounts are created to avoid scrutiny from their parents. Some teens use their secret accounts to post more scandalous and promiscuous content such as sexual photos, drinking, and drug use and to post their participation in risky online challenges.
Here are some tips on how to find out if your child has a secret account.
- Have an honest conversation with your child and ask them straight out if they have a secret account.
- Investigate their account. You can look at your child’s Instagram account and it will show if there is more than one account linked to it. Go to their profile and look next to their name. If you see an arrow pointing downward, click and you should be able to see if they’re logged into any other accounts.
- Pay attention to who they follow. Children with Finsta accounts often follow their own accounts.
Children who frequently use social media sites are more likely to have a slew of problems that’s directly related to their activity on social media. They’re more prone to having online-only friends as opposed to friends in real life. Also, one study revealed that children who use TikTok are developing tic-like attacks – a physical disorder that’s brought on by stress and anxiety. They’re also showing side effects such as increased irritability, increased anxiety and a lack of self-esteem. In worst case scenarios, a child may be interacting with a child sex predator who is grooming them.
CAUTION: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
When a child goes on social media, they’re opening a Pandora’s box that potentially exposes them to these dangers:
- Online predators
- False marketing and scams
- Dangerous viral trends and challenges
- Sharing posts they’ll regret
- Social media addiction
- Unrealistic views of other people’s lives
- Peer pressure
SIGNS YOUR CHILD IS NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY SOCIAL MEDIA
- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
- Negative body image
- Trouble sleeping
- Addiction to social media
The best way to protect children from the dangers of social media is by not allowing them on social media at all. However, if you allow them to have a social media account, many experts advise waiting until they are in the 8th grade.
- Every child is different, so each parent should determine if their child is mature enough to open a social media account. If you’re unsure, you can do a trial run with your child to see how they handle the online world.
- It’s important to educate your child about the dangers online and how to avoid them. Always keep the communication lines open with your child.
- Limit your child’s screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a limit of two hours a day for children. It’s also important to make sure your child maintains face-to-face social interactions in real life too and physical activity.
- Monitor your child’s online usage.
Homeland Security Human Trafficking Hotline:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Hotline: