Everything a Parent Needs to Know About TUMBLR
Tumblr is a collection of contemporary culture, a piece of the cultural zeitgeist. Users can follow blogs from celebrities, politicians, athletes, and fashion designers.An excellent platform for artists and musicians looking to connect with their fans, Tumblr has become one of the most popular apps and websites for young people.
What parents may not know is that Tumblr has been influential in creating communities around teens and individuals interested in social justice and has played a large part in the shift toward equality. In practice, however, Tumblr is home to a large collection of lewd or inappropriate content that should be kept away from teens.
What Exactly is Tumblr?
No, it doesn’t have anything to do with gymnastic tumbling. Tumblr is a blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger that allows its users to post and share content. It’s unique in the ability to “re-blog” content from other users and to curate a collage of articles, photos, and videos that all express a single user’s personal aesthetic. Teens love this because it allows them to express their individuality while interacting with a community of people who share the same aesthetics.
Who’s in this community? Anyone. Literally anyone. Tumblr is well known for requiring very little information from its users. All you need is an email address and a username/password to sign-up, and then you have access to almost every single thing ever posted to Tumblr. As a rule, “Tumbleblogs,” as they’re called, are public and cannot be made private unless you decide to set up a second blog. Individual posts can be made private before they’re published, but only if you select that setting. Otherwise, everything you post is available to every other user.
The Numbers Behind Tumblr
Founded in 2007, acquired by Yahoo in 2013 for $1.1 billion
Approximately 450 million users with 225 million blogs producing 80 million posts a day.
Minimum age requirement of 12 years, but there’s no age verification required.
Tumblr users are young: approximately 70% of users are under 35.
What You’ll Find on Tumblr
Perhaps the biggest attraction of Tumblr is art and media, with the majority of posts consisting of photos, videos, and writing created by users and artists. Tumblr is a place where an architectural design is likely to be “re-blogged” with an inspirational quote. However, similar to an internet search engine, users can also search for pornagraphic images. Parents need to be aware of how and if their kids are using it.
Many teens also use Tumblr as a way to share their views about social and racial justice and to connect with like-minded people. This is one of the best things about Tumblr.
Metatags make it easy for the content on Tumblr to be searched, similar to a hashtag. This means you can type in any keyword and find an unlimited source of content. Metatags can be dangerous for teens, especially those who don’t have safe tech practices in place. While many teens aren’t interested in Tumblr for inappropriate content, it’s easy to stumble upon when other users post it. Be aware of this when your teen signs up for Tumblr and make sure to discuss safe tech practices with them beforehand.
The Dangers of Tumblr
Tumblr’s greatest danger is its content, which is entirely unrestricted. Users are allowed to post anything they want, including text and images inappropriate for teens, and are free to share this content with anyone in the world. Naturally, this raises some concerns. Most of the content on Tumblr is harmless, but some of it may be pornographic or otherwise inappropriate and is not meant for children (except when predators are using it to target teens).
Tumblr’s second greatest danger is its unrestricted online community. Anyone with an internet connection and an email account can sign up, meaning that your teen could be talking with a 40-year old from Canada or a convicted felon. You have no way of knowing.
What’s more, anyone can contact you via Tumblr. Since blogs are public, users can see what you post, re-blog, and like, and can comment on your blog as well as contact you directly. Fortunately, Tumblr allows you to block and report users making unsolicited comments. However, the users you block can still see your public posts (blocking only prevents them from contacting you, not from seeing your activity).
What to Do If Your Teen Is On Tumblr
If your teen is already on Tumblr or wants to set up an account, talk with them first about online safety and what is and isn’t appropriate for them to re-blog or share on Tumblr. Your teen might say something to the effect of, “I don’t look at that content, anyway,” but even the most tech safe and responsible teen can’t avoid inappropriate content posted by other users.
It’s very important for parents to monitor their teen’s use of Tumblr, set limits on what they can share and who they can contact, and, if necessary, set up their own Tumblr account to “follow” their teen. This will go a long way to allaying your fears about this site.