Instagram has just released an update that adds the ability to follow hashtags. This feature allows you to keep tabs on interests or events that you’re interested in without having to search for the tag every few minutes. It’s easy to follow a hashtag. Just search for the tag and then a follow button appears with the results. Or you can click on a hashtag in a post or story and then click follow when that result appears. From then on the hashtag will show up in your instagram timeline just like the people you follow. When you are done seeing everything posted under that tag appear in your Instagram feed, you can just go back to the hashtag search result and tap “Unfollow.”
What Parents Should Know
Being able to follow hashtags has been a “thing” for a while now on Twitter. It has long been a way for events or products to feature themselves and allow attendees or fans to keep up with what’s going on. The problem with our kids blindly following hashtags is the potential for other users to abuse the tag and use it to get attention on their content. Some of that content may not be very wholesome. Pornography is fairly easy to access on Instagram if your kids know where to look. The potential for these adult-oriented posts to add a non-related hashtag so that followers will see their content is cause for concern.
Imagine your teen follows #pokemon on Instagram. All someone would have to do is put the #pokemon tag on their innapropriate photo and it would, likely, show up on your his Instagram feed.
Also, sharing the hashtag for an event you’re currently attending is, in essence, the same as sharing your location information. If you kids are sharing a Prom Night hashtag, then whoever wants to can follow that hashtag and see all the activity and who knows what plans could come from that. Unfortunately, with every great new feature, there seems to be a new danger that accompanies it. My advice is to encourage your kids to post with hashtags after an event has ended. Kind of like posting the memories of the event instead of live-photo-blogging every little thing they’re currently doing. Including where they’re headed next. You don’t have to have too big of an imagination to think of some ways that could be dangerous.