Is Tumblr Safe For 12-Year Olds? 13? 14?

Good news – your child has a creative side. And she’s online a lot. That might mean she has a Tumblr account for her personal blog. Is that bad news? That depends.

Tumblr official logo Tumblr, the blogging social network now owned Yahoo since 2013, is probably the easiest way to set up a blog, and because of that it now has over 550 million users. The search function and the fact that most users employ hashtags also make it easy for others to find your blog. If your teen or tween is using it, there are some things you should know.

Age limit – Like most social networks, Tumblr has an age limit of 13. That age limit is (not really) enforced by asking a user their age at sign up, so it’s up to parents to know whether under-13s are using the service – and if they’re okay with it.

All accounts are public – Each user’s main Tumblr account is public, and there is no way to change that. Users can set up a secondary, private account, but in practice nobody does that, for privacy reasons at least. Everything your child posts will be available for all to see.

Porn – Nudity and sexual content, including extreme sexual content, is allowed on Tumblr. If you’re not sure your child is old enough to avoid that content, or don’t want her running into it accidentally, you should not allow her to use Tumblr.

Other adult content – While some things are prohibited on Tumblr, such as malicious speech, posts depicting harm to minors or gore, many other types of adult content is permitted. Drugs, alcohol, racism and other hate speech seem to easily skirt these guidelines, or are entirely permissible.
Tumblr thinspo warning
Self harm – There are very active communities on Tumblr that support users who are into self harm, i.e. eating disorders or cutting. For example, if you search Tumblr for “thinspo”, short for “thin inspiration”, you will see the warning posted at right. If you click past the warning, you’ll see hundreds of images and posts presumably put up by women and girls who are desperate to be unhealthily thin. We’re all for people seeking help online if they’re in need of it, but the tone of many of these loose groups is to support and sustain the disorders themselves rather than helping the user pursue more healthy habits.

Cyberbullying – Since all posts are public, cyberbullying is not at all uncommon. If your child is being cyberbullied, she can block the other user.

Tumblr itself isn’t the problem, as adult content and cyberbullying are found on other social sites as well. We encourage parents to:

  • Know whether your child is using Tumblr
  • Make an educated decision about whether you’re okay with that
  • Have a conversation about what she is posting and what kinds of people, groups and content she is interacting with

The vast majority of Tumblr users post responsibly. Make sure that your teen or tween, if she is using Tumblr, is one of them.



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