I’m a late 40-something father of three, happily married and gainfully employed, and I’m also a fan of social media forum Reddit. According to a 2012 study by Pingdom on social media users’ age distribution, 80% of Reddit users are under the age of 45, which makes me some kind of dinosaur.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Reddit. According to Wikipedia:
Reddit is a social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text post. Other users then vote the submission “up” or “down”, which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s pages and front page.
Is it a big deal? This month security giant Symantec wrote the following;
Last month alone, Reddit had 55,024,811 unique visitors from more than 175 different countries, according to the company’s page. On March 23, 2013, Reddit powered 4,206 active communities consisting of more than 2,094,953 logged in redditors casting over 16,121,282 votes.
The up and down voting construct is very important, as the highest-quality posts move to the top, on the home page (as Reddit calls it, the front page of the internet) and each community, or subreddit, making it very easy to find quality content. Arguably easier than on any other social media site.
Reddit is on the cutting edge in terms of current events (President Obama did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) last year), humor, hyper local and obscure content. It is also on the cutting edge for porn and gore. Other than child pornography, nothing is banned.
Having read that, you’re probably thinking that there is no way a kid should be on Reddit. Certainly there is a lot of content on the site that should be shielded from young internet users.
My oldest, a 15 year old, is a big fan of Reddit. More specifically, he is a fan of two subreddits: /r/funny and /r/adviceanimals. To tell you the truth, I introduced him to Reddit, when I showed him an adviceanimals meme that I thought he would find funny. Am I crazy? I don’t think so.
Even though he is only 15, he is already a fine young man. He is a great student, active in sports, respectful of adults, doesn’t use foul language, has never been in trouble and consistently shows good judgment. My view is that, given the fact that he has a laptop and cell phone, if he wants to find inappropriate content on the internet he will, and probably already has. I think we’ve done a good job teaching him what is appropriate, and if he does happen to look at something inappropriate, he has the discretion to keep it away from younger siblings and not do it in public or at school. I’m not a fan of parents locking down devices or constantly monitoring internet use. Healthy discovery is a very important part of the education and maturing process, and there is a lot of content worth discovering on Reddit. I guess you could say that we allow him to self-censor. Younger kids, of course, are another story.
This approach certainly isn’t for everybody, and I’m not telling anybody how to monitor their kids’ internet use. I do believe kids will find porn or other inappropriate content if they want, whether they are blocked from using Reddit or not.
Incidentally, the kid used the following line on my wife last night when she was vigorously instructing him to do his homework in the dining room rather than his bedroom:
Maybe just a little bit disrespectful. Parents can find more info about kids and teens using Reddit safely here.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.