Finstas & Faketoks: Does My Child Have a Secret Social Media Account?

As if keeping up on your child’s online activity isn’t hard enough, many of social media’s youngest users turn to fake accounts (often called Finstas or Faketoks) to hide their activity. 

Read on to learn how to tell if your child has a secret social media account and what to do about it. 

How to find secret social media accounts on your child's phone

Before you go into Nancy Drew sleuth mode, ask your child if they have secret social media accounts. Approach the conversation with curiosity rather than accusation — you’ll have better luck getting the truth that way.  

If your child denies having secret accounts but you’re still concerned, it’s time to do some digging. Here are some things to look for:

Activity on their main social media accounts decreases

This could be a sign they’re spending more time on another account. 

Secretive behavior 

Intentionally obscuring your view of their device, suddenly closing a browser, or setting their phone down when you come into the room are all signs your child might have something to hide. 

Their friends’ accounts tag your child under a different name

Look through your kid’s friends’ accounts for pictures of your child tagged under a different account. (Of course, it’s entirely possible their friends also have fake accounts.)

Their followers follow an account that looks like your child

Look at who your child follows on their main account as well as their followers. They probably follow their fake account, and you may be able to spot a username or profile pic that gives them away. 

The username field will have a dropdown menu

Both Instagram and TikTok allow users to manage multiple accounts from a single device. Simply tap their username at the top or bottom of the app. If they have multiple accounts, a dropdown menu of usernames will appear. 

Remember, trust is a two-way street — it’s best to tell your child you need to look at their phone, rather than snooping. 

What to do if your child has a fake account

While it’s natural to be upset when your child deceives you, it’s also developmentally appropriate for adolescents to occasionally try and hide things from their parents. 

There are many reasons why kids create secret social media accounts. Some are cause for concern, like hiding risky or illegal behavior, but others are harmless, like posting silly videos or sharing vulnerable feelings they’re embarrassed to put on their real account. 

Talk to your child about their fake account

  • Approach them with respect: Remember, they’re doing their best to find their way through the rocky landscape of digital adolescence.
  • Be clear your priority is their safety: Remind them you can’t help keep them safe if they aren’t honest with you.
  • Ask them why they created the fake account in the first place: Let their answer inform your next steps.

Take appropriate action

  • Address underlying issues: If your child is using a fake account to hide unsafe or illegal behavior, managing that is your first priority. Depending on the seriousness, professional help may be needed.
  • Help them problem solve: If your kid made a fake account to deal with a social or relationship issue such as trying to fit in or spying on an ex, help them come up with alternative ways to deal with the problem.
  • Remind them that private doesn’t mean private: Make sure your child understands the implications of what they’re sharing. People can still snap screenshots of private accounts in order to spread posts.
  • Be clear about expectations going forward: Explain why it's important they're honest and open with you. Decide if you want them to shut down the fake account or add it to a monitoring service like BrightCanary, which will alert you if they encounter anything concerning. Be clear about your expectations and follow up to make sure they do what you ask.

The bottom line

Finstas and Faketoks are common with today’s adolescents. If you discover your child has a secret social media account, it’s important to address it with them in an open, respectful manner that addresses their underlying reasons for creating it and takes their age into account. Nobody likes feeling duped, but meeting your child where they’re at — and setting clear expectations about their online activity— can help reinforce the trust you share with your child. 

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