Girl Child came to me the other day and asked if she could get a “Sinsta.” I thought, “What the hell is a Sinsta?”
The Current Social Media Rules
She doesn’t get an account without permission from me. End of story. No exceptions. Yes, EVEN IF she already has an account on the social media platform in question. I get all up in her social media business. We went over the rules when she got her Instagram account. We went over them again, in very direct terms, when she got a Snapchat account. The work of constructing a pause button in her brain has barely begun.
So, What’s Sinsta?
Yes, there’s a new thing now with Girl Child’s Instagram crowd – a “Secret Instagram” account, aka “Sinsta.”
What’s the difference between that and regular old Instagram, you ask? The secret part. Apparently the kids have grown weary of perfectly curated and edited versions of their Instagram lives, and are creating these “secret” accounts where they can post stuff they normally wouldn’t post on their regular Instagram account. So far, for Girl Child’s circle of friends, this is where you get to dork out “secretly.”
Why This Could be a Bad Idea:
As we saw recently in that high school in Colorado, secret apps and accounts play perfectly into the teenager’s penchant for bad decision making. This isn’t your 1970’s call and hang up on your crush kinda thing. This is, “I’m going to give myself a place to make horrible decisions that could last forever and let people watch.”
The bigger potential problem I see with a “Sinsta” is kids hiding their problems behind this “secret” account. You don’t want to be the parent who finds out their child has amassed pro-ana followers on their secret account because they are posting Thinspiration photos on it. There’s also the idea of having two lives: the life you want people to see and the life you let your guard down to live. If a teen has an Instagram account that is full of sweetness and carefully edited light, and then they let the tougher and uglier parts out on the alternative account, they are creating a fake self and a real self. They are creating an inauthentic way of living, which at best is a bad habit that wears thin over time, or at worst, carries through to adulthood and makes knowing who they truly are harder to figure out. Is the pressure to show their lives on Instagram as perfect so great that they feel compelled to create a secret account for relief?
The shiny Instagram life, as we see with many teens, often belies a deeper problem underneath. Instagram is sometimes where social warfare takes place. (See: The Secret Language of Girls on Instagram by Rachel Simmons) So, this new trend of a “Sinsta” makes me wonder what the spin-off consequences will be and how they will manifest themselves in the lives of our kids.
Teens spend a lot of time trying to skirt adults who they believe simply don’t understand; I want to make certain that my kids know that I DO understand. The venues may have changed, but the feelings remain the same. So, TALK. A few minutes of uncomfortable conversation for you could mean theirs or their friend’s lives. Sit down and find out what’s going on, learn their social media platforms, get on them, and get up in their business. Their “Sinsta” account should not be a secret from you. If you get there and find out all they are posting is picture outtakes and bad Dubsmash videos, at least you know.