With the advent and rise of social media, parenting has undergone a sea change. It is not unusual for parents to stress their children using social media and, therefore, encountering content that may not be suitable for them.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are more popular, and hence, you may have already taken some steps to limit your child’s exposure to these. However, the world of social media is vast, with new additions being made at a very rapid speed. With all the parenting duties, it can truly be hard to keep track!
One such social media platform that is quite popular is Tumblr. Have you heard about it? Does your child use it often? Is that a worrying sign? Should you be concerned? Let’s find out!
What Is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website that allows users to share multimedia content in the format of a short blog. Users have the option to follow fellow users and their blog content. For those who want privacy, there is an option to keep their blog private.
Tumblr came into existence in 2007 and had the representation of over 18 languages on its platform. According to the official stats released by the platform, they host over 529 million blogs posted by users from all across the globe.
If you have never been on the platform, imagine it as a colorful dashboard comprised of text, photos, GIFs, videos, audio clips, and the likes.
Like all social media platforms, Tumblr has several features that make it unique at engaging users.
For the uninitiated, the dashboard is the primary thing that one needs to be aware of. It is like the foundation that supports the browsing experience on Tumblr. If you are familiar with Twitter, think of the Tumblr dashboard as a live feed of blogs (which would tweet in the case of Twitter) posted by users they follow.
The feed is built to drive engagement, and users can comment on, like, and re-blog any of the stuff they see on their feed. They can also share their content, and other users can interact with that.
Cross-Sharing Using Queue Feature
Tumblr gives the option of cross-sharing content on other social media platforms, and those who want can share their blogs on other sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Many people use this feature because it gives them greater visibility.
Again, users don’t have to post everything at once because they can queue things and schedule them for a later slot. This can be done using the queue feature.
Tags are the other feature of Tumblr that makes it versatile and user-friendly. Just like hashtags on Twitter, you can add certain tags to your content to enable interested people to find your blog.
For example, if you are a gardening enthusiast and want to drive engagement to your blog, adding a relevant tag will give more visibility to your content and help you grow your audience.
Customization and HTML Editing
You can also control how your dashboard appears and customize it as per your liking. This is something that you don’t get on many social media platforms. You can do this by using the HTML editing option. Lastly, you are allowed to use a custom domain name for your blog.
Who Can Use Tumblr?
Anyone over the age of thirteen can sign up for Tumblr. All you need to be on the microblogging site is an email address, username, and password.
Tumblr needs a disclaimer for age, but that depends on the user, and the platform has no way of testifying that. This essentially means that your child, less than 13 years in age, can use Tumblr by entering a fake age.
Once your account is up and running, you are a part of that ecosystem and are free to interact with fellow users by creating and sharing content.
Is Tumblr Popular with Children?
Tumblr is bustling with young users. Around 45% of the users on the microblogging site are under the age of 35 years. It is trendy among young female teens, who comprise a big chunk of the audience.
Tumblr is the go-to microblogging site for people in the age bracket of 13-25 years. This is even higher than the user statistics for Facebook in this age group. You can also check for a guide on internet safety for kids for further help.
Why Do Kids and Young Adults Flock to Tumblr: What Makes the Platform So Enticing?
Several features explain the huge teen and young adult audience on Tumblr. First, it is not a very personal social networking platform. You don’t see people posting updates about their lives like they do on Instagram.
Instead, Tumblr is adept at catching the moods, sentiments, and feelings that might be overwhelming young people. It gives them the means to express themselves while also finding people with similar interests.
It gives a huge respite to children from the mayhem of everyday life. Also, is a place where they can talk about the stuff they like, taking a break from the continuous stress of everyday life.
It is not unusual to see kids sharing memes, quotes, and things that let them cut off from their daily lives and focus on things that matter to them.
This is likely to be the case with teenagers and children going through several changes as opposed to adults who are more settled in their lives and are comparatively more certain of themselves.
The anonymity that Tumblr offers is a big win-win. Teens and children who have nagging parents or parents who place them under strict vigil can easily evade this scrutiny by embracing a false identity.
Teenagers are prone to rebellion, and nothing irks them more than being told what to do. We have all been through the age and can understand how that feels.
One may argue that this is a risk that runs with almost all social media sites, but with Tumblr, it is more convenient given the nature of the content.
In a nutshell, kids, and teenagers like Tumblr because it gives them a creative outlet for expressing multiple facets of their personality, many of which they are still discovering.
They like the platform because they feel like they are listened to and valued. The sense of community that it fosters is a huge draw for them.
But Is Tumblr Safe for Teens and Children?
Sure, children love Tumblr. But how safe is it? With the debates around data privacy and online hate crimes, cybercrimes, and serious issues such as cyberstalking on the rise, it can be worrisome for parents with young children to let their children use these platforms unabated.
Tumblr raises several concerns that you must be aware of.
Privacy Is a Myth
We live in an age of snooping. Privacy is a myth, with many dangers lurking around almost every corner of the online world. Social media platforms make their users very susceptible to privacy violations.
Tumblr is no different.
Despite anonymity being on the table, it is not difficult for people to trace you in the digital world. Besides, if any or many of your posts get viral, there is no way you will be able to hide and remain anonymous.
Inappropriate Content Abound
With millions of users across age groups from around the world, the possibility of encountering stuff that is not particularly targeted at your child’s age can be very high.
The fact that young people are intrinsically curious may find themselves being attracted to content that is not right for them or is something they are not equipped to handle. And we aren’t talking about pornography per se.
Think about your child encountering insensitive and half-baked content on mental health issues, content on fitness and body issues, and insensitive jokes. All these may have a significant impact on their psyche.
How Much Is Too Much? The Issue of Spending Too Much Time in a World That Is Far from Reality
The biggest con of social media platforms is that they paint a very different picture of life. The content may seem enticing and lead your teenager down a route that is replete with never-ending twists and turns.
This is an impressionable age, and does your child need to spend hours and hours idealizing something far from reality? This may include gawking at pitch-perfect bodies or dreaming about a world that is a thought that will never find wings.
This may leave them severely anxious. Besides, this is the time that should be spent on activities that would ground them and make them better equipped to handle the curveballs life throws at us as we grow older. Think games, interaction with friends in real-time, or reading!
Tumblr Has Pornographic Content
Tumblr has a history of hosting pornographic content on its platform, something that has created quite a furor in the past among users, activists, and researchers. This public outrage over explicit adult content (despite having a young user base) led to the ban of adult content on the platform in December 2018.
What Was the Controversy about and What’s with Tumblr and Porn?
When it was founded in 2007, Tumblr was considered a rather liberal platform. It allowed the freedom of expression to artists in the adult industry, including sex workers and artists.
Standalone, this would have been fine since there is an audience for every type of content. But think of this content existing along with cartoons, Harry Potter, and other content popular with teenagers.
Any person with wrong intentions can use certain hashtags in their content not suited for children and young adults and make it visible on their feeds. The fact that Tumblr is image-friendly also made it easy to post and interact with adult content.
However, the ban applies to hardcore pornography and not text-based erotica and artworks featuring adult content. So, child pornography might be off the table, but still, it is not hard to find content that may be inappropriate for people below the age of 18.
How do you explain to a 13-year-old the precise difference between porn and nonsexual nudity? How do you answer the questions that such images or content may be raging in their mind? Besides, how do you check who they go for advice after encountering such stuff on the internet?
Moreover, the ban has also raised serious questions on its efficacy and other considerations of free expression.
Tumblr and Parenting: What Can You Do as a Parent to Make the Experience Good for Your Child?
This is a conundrum that most parents struggle with. Social media is here to stay so much that it is impossible to imagine a life without it. For young adults, it is a new experience, one that they find respite in.
If you try to censor their social media usage abruptly, it can lead to fissures in your relationship and make them wary of you. They will still find ways to do this but by lying to you.
In the process of making social media usage good for them, you don’t want to antagonize your child. This is a complicated territory, and one needs to tread carefully to protect your child without making them feel suffocated.
It would help if you found a way to be involved in your children’s digital lives but without making it look like you are snooping on them or infringing on their privacy. Mind you. Kids can be susceptible to privacy!
Here are a few tips that can help.
Keep Them Away from Social Media as Far as Possible
If your child is not on social media, make sure you teach them the importance of getting on these platforms only after a certain age. This needs to be done very gently, considering they may still be hearing about these sites from their peers.
It would help if you found ways to keep them engaged. Teach them the importance of other activities and push them to embrace hobbies and interests outside of social media.
Ask Them About Their Friends
It would help if you also kept an eye out for their peer group and friends. We are known by the company we keep, and this should begin as early as possible. If you sense something fishy, you should bring this up with your child, or in grave cases, you can involve school authorities or the other child’s parents.
Limit Their Screen Time
You should set in place certain house rules. There should be a limit on screen time. Tell them why this is important and what do you want to achieve with this. They should, at no time, feel you are censoring them.
‘Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child’ Belongs in History
Never be strict with your child. They should be able to trust you to confide their secrets, fears, and anxieties in you. Chances are they may encounter something unpleasant or unfamiliar on Tumblr and may feel confused or scared to share it with you.
As a parent, you need to work on your relationship to come to you with questions and doubts. This will not happen over time and certainly not happen if you treat them harshly or are overtly strict with them.
Talk to them about such issues, tell them they can share stuff with you and that you have their back. This will work wonders. Just try this out for yourself.
Tell Them about the Perils of Social Media
In today’s day and age, it is important to educate your child about the impact social media can have on their life in the long run. Respect their curiosity and intelligence and have a well-informed dialogue with them on issues that you think may impact them in any way.
Tell Them to Use All Privacy Settings
It is crucial to teach your child how to use the privacy settings available on Tumblr. You also have the option to make your posts private on Tumblr.
Tell them all about the features they can use to make their experience on the microblogging site good while not getting into any trouble later on.
Tell Them to Not Befriend Strangers
There are people online who are looking for vulnerable people to take advantage of. Teach your teenager that they should not engage with any stranger online and never share private information.
Also, tell them that anyone trying to make them feel inadequate has vested interests in mind and that they should never listen to such people.
The Final Word
Tumblr is a social media site that allows multimedia blogging. It boasts of a massive young adult user base. This makes parental discretion indispensable. If you are a parent of a young child or a teenager, you need to lead by example and be involved in your child’s life to protect and guide them in the online world.
Also, keep in mind that Tumblr is listed in Popular Apps for Teens That Parents Should Monitor
Maryam has been teaching IT as a school teacher for over a decade, and her main subject of choice is Internet safety, especially helping parents keep their families safe and secure online. When Maryam is not teaching or writing she is a big fan of the outdoors, the complete opposite of staring at a computer screen for hours.