Seen it! Heard it! Reddit?
If you have kids in middle school and beyond, I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard about Reddit. But what exactly is the website’s deal? And in a world where Internet safety is of tantamount importance, is Reddit safe for kids?
Let’s find out!
What Is Reddit?
Described by its creators as “the front page of the Internet,” Reddit is basically an enormous online message board composed of millions of smaller message boards called “subreddits.” Think about it like a giant, digital bulletin board where users can explore any topic imaginable. Do you play Animal Crossing New Horizons? There’s a subreddit for that. Just got into rock climbing? Check out the subreddit. Want to learn the ins and outs of mindfulness-based yoga? You guessed it: there’s a subreddit. Users, called “Redditors,” can submit content to post on these subreddits—as long as the content is relevant to the subreddit’s topic.
The website was launched in June 2005, and has absolutely exploded in terms of popularity. It has 430 million monthly active users and over 100,000 active communities—that’s more users than the population of the United States! As of June 2022, Reddit is the seventh most visited website in the United States. To put that into perspective, more people visit Reddit than popular websites like Twitter, Twitch, and Wikipedia!
How Does Reddit Work?
Let’s talk a little bit more about how Reddit works. After all, when your teen is asking to create a social media account, it’s best to have all the info so you can make an informed decision.
Unlike other social media sites, like Twitter or TikTok, Reddit users rarely share details about their personal lives. Instead, content is limited to the topic that each specific subreddit is dedicated to. For example, if someone has a really cute dog picture they want to share, they would post it on the subreddit dedicated to dogs—not the subreddit for cat lovers. This makes Reddit much more information based, while typical social media focuses on relationships and connections. A ton of my friends use Reddit to get news and stay informed on topics relevant to them.
When users see a Reddit post they like, they can interact with it by leaving a comment or giving it an “upvote.” Other users can then comment on the comment, leading to a kind of online discussion akin to a chat room. On the other hand, if users don’t like the content, they can give it a “downvote.” You can also upvote and downvote other people’s comments, crosspost content onto other subreddits, and give financial awards to posts that you really like.
Is Reddit Safe for Kids?
Now that we know what Reddit is and how it works, let’s get into the real meat of this article: is Reddit safe for kids?
The bottom line? Reddit isn’t safe for kids.
Like most social media sites, Reddit was created by adults for adults. As such, it’s not the safest corner of the Internet for kids. Here are a few reasons why:
- Reddit has communities for everything—and I mean everything. Reddit allows users to create subreddits based on any interest. While this is a pretty cool idea in theory, some groups explore images and ideas that aren’t appropriate for kids. I’m talking about political extremism, misogyny, and hate speech promoting homophobia and racism. While Reddit has a content policy in place that bans “communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate,” less popular subreddits may slip through the cracks.
- Reddit features an astounding amount of adult content. Because there are so many communities on Reddit, it’s no surprise that pornographic content has found its way onto the website. While Reddit has an age restriction on adult content, some posts may slip through the cracks and find their way to young eyes. Pornography is extremely dangerous to young people—that’s why Troomi phones have figured out a way to eliminate this danger entirely.
- Reddit is a nesting ground for cyberbullies. Many users enjoy Reddit because the website fosters an environment based on conversation, debate, and discussion. However, commenters don’t always prioritize kindness. Like in chat rooms and message boards, cyberbullies run rampant on Reddit. If your child is being cyberbullied, lend them a listening ear and let them know that you can help them through it.
- Reddit may expose your kids to groomers and child predators. Like most social media sites, Reddit may inadvertently play host to child groomers and online predators who connect with kids and teens on message boards. While run-ins with these rapscallions are few and far between, the risk is ever present. If you’re looking for tips on teaching kids to avoid online child predators, give this article a quick read.
My Teen Has Reddit; How Can I Keep Them Safe?
If your teen already has a Reddit account, there are a few things you can do to keep them safe as they traverse the Internet’s largest bulletin board. Here are some tips:
- Implement safe security and privacy settings where possible. Reddit has minimal parental controls, but there is the option to block “potentially disruptive comments” and adult content.
- Have conversations with your teen about their Reddit experience. Ask them about the communities they visit and what they’re learning.
- Encourage them to block cyberbullies. Like most social websites, Reddit gives users the ability to block individuals from seeing their comments, sending private messages, or visiting their profile. Make sure your child blocks anyone who sends them inappropriate, threatening, or mean messages or comments.
- Turn on two-factor authentication. This security setting makes it more difficult for hackers and AIs to access your child’s account.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your child maintaining their presence on Reddit, sit down and have a conversation with them. Let them know about your concerns, and ask any questions they may have. Then, work together to create a plan that will keep them safe and secure as they explore the Internet. Transitioning to a smartphone from Troomi Wireless, for example, can protect your kids from cyberbullies and anxiety-inducing social media!
Our Recommendation? Keep Your Kids Off Reddit!
So, is Reddit safe for kids?
While Reddit can be an informative and creative resource for adults, it isn’t a safe place for children or teens. Some communities deal with topics and ideologies that aren’t suitable for kids, and the potential for exposure to adult content is astounding!
Rather than exploring the corners of Reddit, encourage your kiddos to put down the phone and explore the world sans screens! After all, experiences and encounters teach our kids more about the world than the Internet ever could.