Also known as "the front-page of the internet," Reddit is a popular online forum that features a vast amount of content for users to read, contribute to, and share with other people. It functions much like a message board. Reddit is routinely in the top ten most popular websites in the U.S., and it has has grown significantly since its humble beginnings in 2005.
The forum is organized by user-created boards known as "subreddits" that can be about nearly any topic imaginable. 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.
Reddit really is just a large database of knowledge. While some of that "knowledge" is certainly random photos and memes, there are plenty of subreddits that are all about learning specific topics, such as "r/guitarlessons" or "r/woodworking". These can be excellent channels for beginners to learn new hobbies or share their knowledge with others.
As you can imagine, a website with such an open-ended platform could be worrisome for younger visitors. Because Reddit is such a popular destination, there are scores of NSFW (not safe for work) threads available on the site. Although not immediately visible, it is there. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your child from viewing any explicit content.
How to Keep Your Child Safe on Reddit
How to create an account
Create your child's Reddit account yourself and sign up with your own email address. This allows you to keep tabs on what your child is looking at, and even change settings or block usage if it ever becomes necessary. Without access to your email address, your child will not be able to change the password. While this is a great first step, there are a few account settings you will need to change to make the browsing experience more kid-friendly.
Note: You can use Reddit without logging in it all. It’s possible to log out at any time once you’ve logged in to escape any restrictions put in pace.
How to secure your child’s Reddit account
- Click on your child’s account username at the top-right corner of the screen.
- Select User Settings from the dropdown menu.
- Tap the Profile menu button.
- Scroll down until you see the Advanced section. Uncheck both Content Visibility and Active in communities visibility, which will help keep your child more anonymous online. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.
- Next, scroll back up and select the Privacy & Security menu button.
- In the top section labeled User Privacy, uncheck Search engine indexing. This prevents any search engine from displaying your child's profile in search results.
- Scroll down until you see the Messaging Privacy section. Click on the dropdown next to the Who can message you setting and change it from Everyone to Whitelisted. Now you can customize the users who can message your child's account; for example, a neighborhood friend. Keep in mind that administrators and moderators of subreddits that your child is following will always be able to send them private messages. So it is important to decide carefully what subreddits your child can follow. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.
- Next, scroll back up and click on the Feed Settings menu button.
- At the very top of the list is the Content Preferences section. Verify that Adult Content is disabled (it should be disabled by default but it doesn't hurt to double-check). It may also be a good idea to disable Autoplay media immediately below the Adult Content setting, which stops videos and .gifs from playing automatically. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.
Report hateful speech or bullying
If your child comes across any hateful speech or bullying, help them report any offending users.
- For offensive posts: click the “...” at the bottom of the post and select Report from the dropdown that appears. Then select a reason for the report and click Submit.
- For offensive comments, click on the Report button immediately below the comment. Then select a reason for the report and click Submit.
Start Chatting: Reddit's Group Chat Room Feature
This new feature was added in April 2020 and allows users to join randomly generated chat rooms around a specific subreddit. When enabled, Start Chatting matches you with other Redditors who have similar interests as you and want to chat too. Obviously, this group chat room can pose certain risks for younger users.
As of now, the user must elect to turn on the feature in order to join a chat room. They will not automatically be added if they simply follow a subreddit. However, if your child does turn on Start Chatting and experiences any harassment, there are a few things you can do:
- Report the message — You can report any message in a chat by long-pressing on the message if you’re using the Reddit app on your phone, or by selecting the flag icon if you’re using Reddit on your computer. This will open up a report, where you can add extra information before submitting it to Reddit to review and act on.
- Block the user –If you block someone in a chat, they can’t contact you anymore and you won’t get matched with them the next time you use the Start Chatting feature.
- Leave the chat – Once you leave a chat, you won’t receive any more messages from the person/people in it.