Harmful hashtags and how to protect your kids

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Hashtags can be playful ways to categorize posts online or join in a digital conversation with like-minded folks across the world, but they can also cause harm.

Recently, former Man vs. Food host Adam Richman was blasted for using the hashtag #thinspirational in celebration of his dramatic weight loss.

That particular hashtag is used among pro-eating disorder groups and experts say can be harmful to those who are fighting those disorders.

Among other troubling hashtags floating in cyberspace are:

  • #drivingselfie, in which users post self-photos they took while behind the wheel
  • #thinspirational, in which users post photos of thin subjects, often times with the goal is inspiring weight loss – necessary or not – in the poster and those who see the image
  • #probulimia, a self-harm hashtag that promotes the eating disorder bulimia, in which suffers binge and purge

The #probulimia tag has been banned from Instagram, as have many other self-harm hashtags.

Parents are advised to talk to their kids early and often about online safety, create an honest and open environment, communicate their values and be patient as the young digital natives figure their way through cyberspace.

These resources can help foster the conversation: