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Is Reddit Safe? Parental Controls and Monitoring

by | May 28, 2019 | Social Media Monitoring

**This post was updated on May 5, 2020**

Even if you’re not familiar with Reddit, you’ve probably at least heard of it. Reddit is the fifth-most visited website in the U.S., in the same company as web giants Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon. Its never-ending stream of content draws kids and adults alike to the platform — but is Reddit safe for everyone?

In this post, we explain what exactly Reddit is (for a modern website, its interface can be a bit overwhelming!), why kids like it, and the potential dangers it poses for children.

What is Reddit?

Put simply, Reddit is an enormous message board composed of (literally) millions of smaller message boards that cover any topic you can imagine — from TV shows, sports teams, and movies to dogs, .gifs, and politics. On these specialty boards, which are called “subreddits,” content rallies around the theme. For example, the subreddit about dogs (which is written r/dogs) will only feature content on that topic.

Community members are known as “Redditors,” and they can submit content (everything from text and links to articles, images, or videos) to these subreddits. As a result, Reddit has become an enormous content machine. When you post something on Reddit, other people have the opportunity to “upvote” or “downvote” it. This crowdsourcing ensures that the most popular content rises to the top — for better or worse.

Upvotes on Reddit

Why Do Kids Like Reddit?

Reddit is referred to as “the front page of the internet” for good reason. Every hour there’s a tidal wave of fresh, new content, and people add to it around the clock from all over the world. All of the top-performing posts from the subreddits you follow appear on your homepage. Think of it like a Facebook feed, but populated only by the things you really care about.

Kids can follow niche subreddits for information they can’t find anywhere else. Also, Reddit is a gold mine for humor and memes, so it’s no wonder kids are so tuned in.  Links and images on Reddit often end up a few days later on popular sites such as Buzzfeed. In this way, the platform is a sort of seeding ground for cultural trends. Kids who spend time on Reddit are often aware of the next big thing before it becomes a sensation.

Is Reddit Safe? The Dangers of Reddit

Reddit gets hundreds of millions of visitors to its site each month, the majority of whom are adults. Because of this, there are two primary things parents should take note of. First, like other social media sites, there’s the potential for adult sexual predators to strike up relationships with unsuspecting kids and begin privately messaging with them.

Second, Reddit is a site made by and for adults, and as such, there’s an incredible amount of inappropriate content. While there is some moderation, the sheer volume of content means that almost anything can be found, including pornography, violent material, hate speech, and suicide tips.

Reddit also has a group chat feature, which can expose the members of the chat to potential cyberbullying or other unwanted content. This is not necessarily a private DM between friends, but it can be used to connect anybody on the platform with other people — whether they know each other or not. A user can type in a string of random usernames and instantly begin a private conversation with those people. 

The platform also briefly rolled out an update that actively encouraged people to connect with strangers based on similar interests, but the public outcry about the potential dangers this could pose led Reddit to stop offering this feature. But it may come back. “We’ve made the decision to disable Start Chatting so we can reassess our rollout plan and evolve the product to meet the needs of our community,” a spokesperson for the platform told The Verge.

Giving your child access to Reddit is like giving them access to everything on the internet — the good, the bad, and the ugly can all be found in this one place. Even if your kid is only looking for cat photos and SpongeBob memes, there is ample opportunity for them to be exposed to dangerous content. Fortunately, Bark can monitor your child’s submissions, comments, and private messages on the platform. This includes replies to their comments, which come in as private messages.  We’re working on being able to monitor group DMs.

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.

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