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National expert speaks to Chattanooga parents about effects of social media on teens

Katey McPherson, WTVC.JPG

If you're a parent, and you are unfamiliar with the term "finstagram," you should read this article.

A social media researcher is in Chattanooga Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about what's on the account she says almost 95 percent of teens have.

"There's a lot of really dangerous things going on between substance abuse, self harm and sexually explicit content," she said.

The guest speaker that will be at the Girls Preparatory School says the digital world can have an emotional impact on both genders.

Hannah Prescott says she and and friends spend a lot of time on Instagram.

Some photos on this app make her happy, but others have brought her to tears.

"It's easy to feel left out when you see things that you weren't a part of and wish you had in your own life," Prescott said.

Katey McPherson with the Gurian Institute says that's a trend among teenage girls.

Many of them experiencing emotional isolation, anxiety, depression and loss of sleep after just looking at what everyone else is doing.

In turn, she says some teens are posting somewhere else on the same app to get attention.

"They call it "finsta" or spam account. It's an Instagram," she said. "It's basically an underground account that parents don't know about."

Prescott said, "A "f-instagram" is a "fake instagram" and a lot of people are making separate accounts from just their normal account."

McPherson says girls and boys make the "f-instagram" accounts private, and often post pictures of explicit activities.

"In my experience, most parents don't know how to operate Instagram much less "f-insta."

That's the whole point of her coming here to talk to parents tonight. She's trying to eliminate the point where Social media turns into a toxic competition, instead of a place to keep up with friends.

McPherson says there are ways to use social media for good. For example, marketing yourself for internships or college admission.

She says she'll also be talking about that with parents as well.

Tuesday's event is open to the public and begins at 7 pm. There will be a second session Wednesday at 9 am.

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