A HAYES mother was left "shocked" after discovering her 11-year-old son had accessed pornography on social networking website Instagram.

Julie Elms-Lester says her son Samuel came home from school on February 5 and told her he had viewed nude pictures of men and women on the photo and video-sharing site, using the hashtag xxxx.

Mrs Elms-Lester, of Hayes Lane, said: "He told me a boy in his class had told him if he typed #xxxx on Instagram then rude pictures of men and women would come up.

"I was very confident that after all my research into the best parental control for our internet at home that nothing pornographic would come up.

"But I was shocked as very graphic images and videos came up and my parental control could not block it as they are posted onto Instagram.

"It was just very shocking. It is pornography.

"And the people in the pictures are quite young. It says things like: 'If you like it then Skype this number'."

The 39-year-old, who works at Sedgehill School in Catford, says there are thousands of such pictures and videos, making it very difficult to report them all.

She added she had contacted Instagram about the problem, but they had not got back to her.

Mrs Elms-Lester said: "Instagram is very popular with school children, they use it to ask questions about homework and arrange meeting up.

"I would like them to try and block these pictures, eventually I'd like them to be taken down.

"They are really bad, I have now told my son he cannot go on there."

Since Mrs Elms-Lester spoke to News Shopper, the #xxxx has stopped working, but people are now able to access such images through a new hastag, #xxxxx.

A spokesman for Instagram said: "We want Instagram to be a safe and fun place for people to capture and share moments.

"That means finding a good balance between allowing people to express themselves and providing protections to prevent certain content that would be against our terms.

"This is an ongoing process for us and we encourage people who come across content that makes them uncomfortable to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo and video on Instagram."