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Dangerous Habits Shared by Teens on Social Media through Secret Hashtags

Update Date: Dec 22, 2015 06:15 PM EST
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Breaking the rules, being a rebel child and to rebuke the adults is what the teenagers do best today. However, the new study reveals a dark secret of social media that suggests how new technology is helping teenage kids share their dangerous behaviors with other people. Hashtags such as #selfHarmmm are trending on Instagram where likeminded kids share disturbing images and messages with one another. Teens are using non-suicidal self injury such as scratching, burning and cutting done with the intent to cause damage rather than death. They mask these activities on social media through hashtags so as to dodge advisory warnings and make it harder for parents to monitor the virtual lives of their children, reports Reuters.

"The online communities that develop around these hashtags can draw in adolescents and provide them a strong sense of belonging and support that is centered on these unhealthy behaviors," said lead study author Dr. Megan Moreno, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Research Institute. "This can make recovery from these behaviors more challenging," Moreno added by email.

The team of researchers and Moreno searched the terms such as #selfharmmm or #SecretSociety123 or #MySecretFamily or #blithe that were associated with dangerous behaviors of tees on popular photo-sharing service, Instagram. The only limitation to the study that the authors realized were the reliability of the data that was obtained from a single term #SelfHarmmm. This hashtag was selected for study due to its popularity on the online portal. The results of the study are also limited only to self-injury and does not take other hurtful behaviors into account such as eating disorders or substance abuse. Moreno said that the parents cannot trust on social media to provide their kids a safe environment for interaction with peers. He insists that the parents should proactively communicate with their children regarding their online interactions, reported Duluth News Tribune.

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