Being a blogger requires that I use social media a lot. I enjoy social media and I think there is a lot of good that can come from it, but after the experiences I have had, there is one specific platform that I will never allow my children to have unless some major changes occur.
Which one is it might you ask? Well, you might be surprised (or maybe you won't). It's Instagram.
If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you Instagram was my very favorite of all social media. I love the idea of it: sharing photos and being able to follow hashtags and see what everyone around the world is posting on that very same thought or subject. It really is a cool idea. Unfortunately, Instagram is doing a very poor job at monitoring what gets uploaded.
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For the most part, with all the other forms of social media, you basically see what's being posted by those you follow (Besides Twitter. Read what you need to know about Twitter here). If your kids have good friends and they post good things, your kids won't see harmful things as often. I have been on Facebook for 10+ years now and have only seen porn or obscene things maybe a couple of times.
I have seen more that that on Instagram in the last month.
You see, the problem with Instagram is your kids aren't just seeing what their friends are posting, they are seeing what the world is posting. And there is a lot of crappy stuff on there. Twice now in the last couple of months I have run into hardcore porn via very innocent hashtags. This means your kid could simply be doing everything right with absolutely no intention of seeking out porn, and have it show up (with hundreds of images mind you) right on their screen.
One time I was posting a craft project from my blog. I used a hashtag to describe my project, and clicked on the hashtag to see what other bloggers were posting. To my horror I immediately saw several pictures of oral sex, naked breasts, gay porn, and other forms of porn. Many of them had invites to their chat rooms or websites. At first I was very angry and started reporting the images, but after seeing that the photos were endless, and not wanting to have to see any others, I gave up. I did however wait several hours before checking back to see if Instagram had done anything about it and they hadn't. That was about a month ago. When I decided that I needed to write this post, I checked the hashtag to see if Instagram had taken care of it. NO!!! It is now EXTREMELY obvious that this hashtag is being used for porn and Instagram still has done nothing to monitor or remove it. I have since read articles stating that there are all kinds of hashtags on Instagram that people know they can go to for pornographic images and content.
I really wish this weren't the case, and I hope things change in the future, but for now…Instagram just isn't worth it. Even as a blogger (who has to use Instagram for work), I now use it more rarely and I avoid following hashtags. I've considered giving it up altogether, which is a bummer. But maybe this needed to happen so that parents will take a stand and demand Instagram tighten their policies and monitor things more carefully. There is no reason why porn (that was reported HOURS or even days prior) should remain. If there's just too much porn on Instagram to handle, then they need to hire more staff.
In the meantime, I'm not letting my kids near it.
***Side note. Whatever you decide to do in your own home….please, please, please….at the very least have a conversation with your kids and let them know what to do when they come across porn. Because of the world that we live in, it's going to happen multiples times no matter what rules and regulations you have set up. Make sure your kids don't feel hesitant to come talk to you when they see something. And I would highly recommend doing as my friend does and having a “family Charging Station” for everyone's phones and tablets at bedtime. This not only keep them from staying up late on the internet, but also helps with temptation that can occur when everyone else is asleep.
For more info on the harmful effects of pornography, see the website Fight the New Drug.
And please inform and help share this article with other parents.