As a parent, there are many concerns to consider when it comes to keeping your children safe online. Although the internet can be a great resource and social tool for your children, it can also be a place where they can be vulnerable to predators. One of the ways that these predators can gain access to your children is by certain popular hashtags.
Hashtags are used to categorize posts on social media that fall into a certain specific "theme". If you have a public profile, people are able to see your photos and posts based on the hashtags you use. For example, if you upload a photo of a watercolor painting you've done and hashtag it with "#art", then anyone who searches #art will be shown your picture in their search results.
According to the Child Rescue Coalition, pedophiles are well aware of some specific hashtags that can give them access to photos of children. With some of these hashtags, they can gain access to photos which can contain private information that they can then use to exploit children. Many people post on social media with intimate details about their children such as location, birthdates, and names. Even kids may post these things on their own and be at risk. Predators are able to save these photos, an incredibly creepy and disturbing thought.
The Child Rescue Coalition has compiled a list of hashtags to avoid , in order to keep the privacy of your children safe. The whole list can be found *here*, but some examples of hashtags to avoid are as follows:
It's important to monitor what your children are posting online, but it is also just as imperative that adults are also aware of the information they are putting out there. Many grownups are also unaware of the dangers of putting identifiable information out there, and not being informed when it comes to privacy settings.
Ultimately, it is a good idea for parents to educate themselves on these issues, then set an example for their kids to also be safe online. As a society, the more we think critically about online safety, the better equipped we are to teach and model safety in the digital world.