What is Reddit?
Reddit is a social news site where users create and share content. Some of this content is only suitable for those 18+ and is marked as NSFW (not safe for work). For some parents, this makes them wonder whether Reddit is safe for use by teens.
The site has communities called subreddits for different interests and any user can create a subreddit.
Teens can often find communities to discuss their favourite video games or hobby. They can also find more general communities like r/mademesmile where users share content to spread happiness. There is even a subreddit specifically called r/teenagers for those 13-19 years of age to discuss things relevant to them.
How it works
Users can post images or text posts in line with Reddit’s content guidelines and each subreddit’s individual rules. They can also comment on others’ posts. Whenever someone posts content or comments on something, they earn points called karma. People can anonymously upvote and downvote content and comments to give or take away karma.
If a person really likes a post or comment, they can award the OP (original poster) for their content. These awards cost real currency to purchase and some give the recipient special privileges. Awards that exist across Reddit include silver, gold and platinum.
There are also community awards that can be set by subreddit moderators. Some examples are ‘wholesome’, ‘hugz’ and ‘helpful’ awards but can vary between communities.
As users browse, they can choose to go to specific communities or browse their front page. Their front page features posts from all the communities they follow. They can also browse r/all, which draws popular posts from subreddits all over Reddit.
What is the age rating?
For users in the UK, there is an age minimum of 13. Users under this age cannot use the site or app.
Reddit: The Official App is available for download in app stores. It has a parental guidance rating in the Google Play store and an age rating of 17+ in the Apple store.
What are the parental controls for Reddit?
Whether using the website or downloading the app, Reddit has few privacy and security settings. They include:
- ● collapsing ‘disruptive’ comments that contain rude or disrespectful content while you browse
- ● appearing invisible online
- ● keeping your account out of Google search results
- ● turning off personalised content and information collection
- ● implementing two-factor authentication for additional security logging in
- ● turning off NSFW content
- ● limiting who can follow your account
- ● whether your posted content shows up in r/all (Reddit’s general feed).
Neither the app nor the website offer parental controls.
Controversy around the platform
Many wonder if Reddit is safe because of some of its controversies. The site has been at the centre of several led by different subreddit communities over the years.
Some of the biggest controversies are those associated with subreddits that promote hate, specifically fat-shaming and misogyny. There have also been hate groups created that promote homophobia and racism. However, Reddit’s content policy states: “Communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.” Many subreddits have been removed from Reddit by the admin team for breaking this rule.
Still, some groups like the above exist. They tend to be less popular and go unnoticed. When they become popular, users are more likely to report them, resulting in their closure. It’s important to monitor which communities your teen is interacting with.
In 2013, the site came under criticism following the Boston Marathon bombing. Users found who they believed was guilty, wrongly accusing a number of people. Doxxing (publicly sharing someone’s personal information), reportedly led to the suicide of one of the accused.
Reddit now has rules against sharing personally identifiable information of other people across the site. Many subreddits also repeat this in their subreddit rules. Users who break this rule get banned from the site.