Jack Wilson (11)

The #Hashtag Jungle

In this latest edition, guest blogger Sgt. Brian Trainor, retired police detective from the Saskatoon Police Service and cyberbullying expert talks about hashtags, what they are, how they can give you insight on how your child is feeling. He also highlights ones that you need to know today.

Sgt. Brian Trainor:

What you don’t know can hurt you.

As of June 1st, 2016 due to an update of their system, Instagram has placed more limits on the way that users can access their postings. As a parent, this should concern you in more ways than you know. Let’s take a quick peek behind the curtain of “#” or Hashtags.

Copy of Brian Trainor Qs (1)

What is a “hashtag”?

It’s that little symbol most adults know as either the number symbol or the pound symbol. So what’s the big deal with numbers and pounds? As with anything on the internet, there’s more to them than meets the uneducated eye.

Hashtags are the language of Instagram and Twitter users. Cruise through your child’s Instagram account and take note of the number of postings that have nothing but #hashtags under a photo. To the untrained eye, it looks like gibberish, but don’t be so quick to dismiss the words following the hashtags. Search the words. I guarantee you will learn more about the emotional state of your child than you ever thought possible.

Copy of Brian Trainor Qs

What do these mean? Why would your child post them? Look closer.

Pro-ana is a phrase referring to websites that promote anorexia nervosa. Your child is saying to their followers that they feel fat, and is thinking that starvation may be the only way to happiness.

SSRI stands for Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibiters which are anti-anxiety, anti-depressant medications that affect the neutron-hormone Seratonin believed to be involved in people who suffer from depression and anxiety.

SecretSociety123 refers to websites or blogs that encourage eating disorders or self-harm such as cutting.

“And the beat goes on,” as Sonny and Cher sang.

Get in the habit of looking at the hashtags your children post. Search the words following these cryptic symbols. Become an informed parent.

In the world of teen communication, however, a hashtag can provide valuable insight and emotional red flags for a parent . . . if that parent is paying attention.

What Every Parent Ought to Know by Toni Birdsong

Sgt. Brian Trainor is a retired police detective formerly with the Saskatoon Police Service. Brian is a regular guest on national radio and television, and presents at national conferences on topics such as cyberbullying, teen suicide, depression, anxiety, and other related topics. He is also the author of STOP FRAUD and BULLY 4U.

Have a question for Sgt. Brian Trainor or want to hear more from him? Check out our Ask the Experts online community forum and get answers to your parenting questions today!