What Parents Need to Know

What is Reddit?

When I mention the Reddit website and app in my parent cyber safety seminar, I get a lot of blank stares from parents. Reddit is rapidly becoming a social media platform teens and young adults are using to discuss topics that are important to them with likeminded individuals. For young people, it is becoming a primary source for news, information, and entertainment, and most parents have never heard of it. The concept is simple: Reddit users post whatever they want (including images and videos) in message boards, called subreddits, and other users comment and up or down vote the post. The most popular stories or posts become more visible and generate more discussion. If a post generates enough discussion, it can be viewed on Reddit’s homepage, known as the main-reddit. A subreddit is preceded by the characters “r/” in the URL. For example, “r/planes” would be a subreddit on the general topic of planes.

Similarly, a subreddit entitled “r/stocks” would be all about the stock market. Do you want to discuss or find information on literally any topic? You will likely find a subreddit for you, or if you don’t, you can start your own subreddit.

How is Reddit Accessed?

Reddit is a website and a mobile app available for all mobile devices. Anyone can browse Reddit and its subreddits, but to post, comment, up/down vote, or start a new subreddit, you must be a registered user.

Can My Child Talk to Strangers on Reddit?

Yes. Reddit’s mobile app has a direct chat feature and chat rooms. There is no way to know who your teens are talking to on Reddit. Redditors rarely post under their given name, and there is no verification of identity (unless you’re hosting an AMA – Ask Me Anything). That means it can be a dangerous place for young people, and a nightmare for parents, mainly since Redditors often do in-person meet-ups.

Is There Porn or Other Inappropriate Content on Reddit?

Yes, big time. Anything goes on Reddit, provided it is not illegal material like child pornography. Many subreddits are tagged with NSFW. This acronym stands for “Not Safe For Work.” Reddit’s content policy guidelines for NSFW to include: “Content that contains nudity, pornography, or profanity, which a reasonable viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as in a workplace should be tagged as NSFW. This tag can be applied to individual pieces of content or to entire communities.”  

Can You Block Porn and NSFW Subreddits?

Yes, sort of. You can turn off NSFW search results and the ability to view NSFW subreddits in the account settings found on the Reddit internet platform. The only problem is that the blocked user can easily get around this parental control. If your teen wants to see NSFW content, all they have to do is go into settings and uncheck that parental control, or create a new account the parent doesn’t know about. 

Should My Child Have This App?

No. Reddit’s app age rating in the App Store is 17+. Based on the presence of pornography and the ability to chat with strangers, I would suggest 18+ for this app. 

What Should Parents Do to Keep This App Out of Their Child’s Hands

  1. Password protect your child’s app store. If your child is using an iPhone, set up Family Sharing so they must ask for your permission before an app is downloaded on to their device.
  2. Filter the Internet coming into your home, either by using a free service like OpenDNS.com or purchasing a WiFi router or gateway that filters out adult websites. Be sure to add Reddit’s address to the “Blacklist.”
  3. Talk to your child about why looking at pornography is harmful to them. I devote an entire chapter in my book, Parenting in the Digital World, to this. I will walk you step-by-step through this conversation so you will have an impactful talk with your teen about a difficult subject.
  4. The next safety layer parents and caregivers should strongly consider is a monitoring solution to assess the content their kids encounter (and produce) across text messages, social media, and email. Bark can do this for you by monitoring text messages, YouTube, emails, and 24+ different social networks for potential safety concerns like cyberbullying, self-harm, violence, sexual predators, and more. Install Bark on your child’s phone. Use the promo code, “cybersafetycop” to get 15% off.
  5. Go to a free parent seminar hosted at a nearby school. This seminar will change the way you look at your child’s digital world and give you a game plan to make your child safe. If you would like to host a parent seminar at your school, fill out the contact form to learn more.
  6. Purchase the book, “Parenting in the Digital World.” It will take you step-by-step through the process of making your child safer online: how to talk to your child about difficult topics, app guides, parental control walkthroughs, and more.
  7. Stay on top of the latest online trends by subscribing to our free e-newsletter.