What is Wattpad? A breakdown for parents

Smartphone with the Wattpad app in an app store.

Wattpad is a social storytelling platform where users connect with your favourite writers, read and write original stories. Help them stay safe on Wattpad with our guidance below.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is an online social reading platform that breaks down barriers between readers and writers. It encourages users to create and share their own stories in all genres from teen fiction to poetry to action, adventure and more.

Created in Canada in 2006, Wattpad stories range from those in the public domain to those developed by local users who may then go on to publish for wider audiences. This means that teens and young adults can write and know that their work may be able to reach a lot of people. As such, it’s important they understand how to stay safe on Wattpad.

More than 90 million people use the platform to read and write, spending over 23 billion minutes per month engaged in different stories. 90% of these  are users aged 13-40-years-old and many of the writers are older teens or young adults.

How it works

Wattpad has a variety of features to categorise their stories and different types of content, which can help users avoid inappropriate content or find the exact kind of topic they want to read and write in.

Tagged content – Writers who publish on Wattpad can add tags to their story that work similarly to hashtags on social media. Users can then search those tags to find the kinds of stories and types of content they are interested in reading. These tags also tell users whether the content is appropriate for them and should be tagged accurately. Users can add blocked tags to avoid seeing specific content.

Rating a story – You can set an age ranking as either ‘Mature’ or for ‘Everyone’. Wattpad’s mature or ‘new adult’ stories are given an age ranking of 17+. However, users under this age still have access to these stories, so it’s important to discuss with your child what is appropriate for their age and why. Learn more about inappropriate content here.

Reading list – Users can save stories they enjoy to their reading lists for easy access. These are publicly displayed on user profiles, which can create connections or talking points between users.

Writing in-app – Wattpad is available in-browser or via app on your mobile phone. Users with the mobile can essentially write anywhere at any time rather than waiting until they have a computer in front of them.

Story notifications – If you follow a story or author, you can receive push notifications on your mobile or to your email address when content is updated. In essence, users can read the story as it’s created rather than waiting until the whole work is complete.

Wattpad paid stories – Users can utilise this feature and earn money from their writing. Similar to virtual gifts on streams or Patreon, readers can support their favourite Wattpad books and writers by donating Coins. These must be purchased with real currency through Apple or Google Play accounts and should be monitored by parents and carers.

What is Wattpad’s minimum age requirement?

According to Wattpad’s Terms of Service, users must be 13-years-old or older. Anyone under this age will have their account terminated.

Wattpad hosts different types of content and some of it is adult in nature. Because any user can add a story, it’s up to them to add the appropriate tags. If your teen comes across a story that is not accurately labelled, they should report it. Users can also filter mature content out of their recommended stories.

Is Wattpad safe?

Some categories are age-appropriate for children and some are not, which children can easily access. Categories range from adventure and LGBTQ+ to fan fiction and romance with different types of content in each. There is also a ‘New Adult’ category which contains erotic, relationship and romance stories with titles such as ‘booty call’ and ‘I slept with my stepbrother’ along with ‘smut’ stories containing sex and inappropriate language.

There are various settings to help manage what young people see so they can stay safe on Wattpad.

Privacy and security settings

While Wattpad doesn’t have specific parental controls, it does feature a number of functions to help your child stay safe in the app. Set them up together to help them understand the settings and take ownership of their safety.

  • Report a story: On a story, tap the three lines in the top right-hand corner in the app. Then tap ‘Report’. Choose a reason and then explain how the story fits the complaint. Tap REPORT to submit.
  • Report a user: Go to the user’s page and tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner and tap ‘Report’, then select the reason you want to report the user, enter the reason then tap ‘Report’.
  • Mute a user: On the user’s page, tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner and tap ‘Mute’. Confirm by selecting the ‘Mute’ option again. Muting a user means that the account will not be able to follow you, send messages, post on your profile or comment on your stories.
  • Manage notifications: Users can manage what they get notified for or turn off push notifications completely. To do this, go to your profile and tap the gear icon in the top right-hand corner. Tap Notifications and then untick relevant options.
  • Set content preferences: On your home screen, click on the icon to the left of your profile image in the top right-hand corner. Tap the toggle so that Mature content is not included. Go to Blocked Tags and add tags that you don’t want in your feed. Tap Save.

See our full step-by-step parental controls guide to Wattpad’s privacy settings here.

5 tips to keep teens stay safe on Wattpad

Get involved in your kids’ Wattpad experience. If they know that you’re interested in the things that matter to them, it’ll get them in the habit of talking to you about what they do online.

A family agreement or set of ground rules for using social platforms is a good idea. It’s a great way for parents and children to work together on how to be safe, wise and responsible online. Here are some ideas:

  • Advise them to keep sensitive information such as their full name, address, phone number, email address, etc. private
  • Share an account with them so you can monitor the account activity
  • Show them how they can report any inappropriate content following Wattpad’s guidelines. If they receive directly hateful messages, tell them not to respond
  • Sit them down and discuss what language and behaviour is appropriate to say online. If they wouldn’t say or do it face-to-face, they shouldn’t say or do it online
  • Ensure they’re aware of the community guidelines.
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