Parents' Guide to

Pinterest

By Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Semi-social site helps users collect images for inspiration.

Pinterest Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this website.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 37 parent reviews

age 18+

Use extreme caution with this app

Parent warning to anyone with a child using this app. The algorithms on this site can lead to horrific, traumatic content on suicide, death and drug use. Stuff a person can’t unsee. And the site will keep populating that content for you once the “artificial intelligence” determines that is your interest. You will even get emails reminding you of updates to horrific content. I will take heat here for being “irresponsible” although my spouse and I try our very best. We very very nearly lost our daughter to this app. Our 13 yo daughter signed up for this during the pandemic. My only use of this site had literally been for a few recipes and home remodeling ideas. We thought it was a hobbyist site for makers to share stuff. And it is that. AND if one day your child searches for a Halloween costume based on slightly edgy but a movie we watched together “nightmare before christmas” search string a number of neat costumes come up accompanied by a number of edgier costumes including some that suggest self harm. Try this. Can’t. Make. it. up. Click on ONE of those and it opens up a new page of more and more terrible stuff on suicide, drug use, depression. And that is now top of the queue every single time you log in and no matter how many times after you search for rainbows, unicorns and abundance, the search recommendations will always have something there to draw one back into terrible content. You will even get emails reminding you to see new “pins on depression. “ As a fully formed adult, this can be hard to deal with. As a teen during a pandemic - it’s literally like handing them a loaded gun without instructions. We thought we had a handle on internet and social media content with screen time limits, content limits, search limits and communicating with our kids. We let Pinterest right in the door and it nearly cost us everything we hold dear- not hyperbole. Be as cautious with this app or even more so then anything on the internet or any other social media application.
age 12+

My 12 yo daughter recently asked for Pinterest. My daughter is very interested in art and fashion, and wanted to use it as inspiration for projects. There are some mixed reviews on here, saying that there are sexually explicit content and while that is true, it is very hard to find, and you must search for it specifically otherwise you will not find it. Responsibility is key in this case, and if used responsibly Pinterest is a fun useful app.

Privacy Rating Warning

  • Personal information is sold or rented to third parties.
  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-parties for their own purposes.
  • User's information is used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for personalised advertisements.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (37 ):
Kids say (96 ):

Pinterest makes it easy to categorize clothes, accessories, art, design ideas, and other items you find interesting. And it's generally a good example of positive social networking, with lots of practical purpose and creativity in the vast majority of Pins. It feels less interactive than Facebook or Twitter—users seem to re-pin more than they comment—and the fact that all the content is user generated means that boards and images can range from kid-friendly to inappropriate. As more teens have started using the app, Pinterest has worked toward making it more teen-friendly by establishing more age restrictions and evaluating content with teen mental health in mind. Profiles for users under 16 default to private, so no one can see their boards except for them, and they can only have followers they've accepted through a unique link. Searches for women's fashion and beauty now allow for a body-type filter that includes a variety of different body types, including disabled bodies. (The same is not true for searches on men's fashion, however.) Also, unlike apps like Instagram and TikTok, Pinterest doesn't allow beauty filters.

Users can create filters to block specific terms in comments that are posted on published Pins, but it's harder to avoid seeing any Pins that involve violence and other elements. While much of the content about sensitive subjects like depression is informative, not exploitative, concerns about what kids might stumble upon arose after a British teen died by suicide in 2017 after searching for items about depression and suicidal quotes and pinning images that involved self-harm. The site tries to limit nudity that would qualify as pornography and some other potentially objectionable material—although it's not always clear exactly how, or how often, those determinations are made. Administrators also reportedly try to prevent items that showcase excessive violence, although the site notes that some may not violate Pinterest's policies—such as images from historical events—but could still make viewers uncomfortable.

Users are told they can report objectionable items. The site also advises them to remember that their home feed will be "full of Pins from things you follow and Pins we picked for you" and says they can unfollow people, boards, or topics if they don't want to see certain items on the homepage—which seems to place a burden of responsibility on users. Teens could easily get sidetracked from an initial search and potentially come across mature content quickly. Pinterest constantly updates users' feed with items that relate to their activity on the site. So, in theory, if teens were to search for war information, for example, they might later see suggestions that contain battle photos or other violent images. That algorithmic capability may be problematic, according to an NBC News investigation that indicated the site was recommending photos and videos of young girls to users who'd sought similar content, which could inadvertently enable pedophiles to access, collect, and sexualize imagery of children. Pinterest has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation of children, and officials have said the service is adding options to specifically flag content, which currently undergoes an AI- and human-based review, that involves a minor. Pinterest seems to pose less of a risk than some other social media platforms, and the abundance of user-created boards that provide cooking, craft, and other ideas—and the ability to cull visual topic-based lists—make it a great way to brainstorm and keep track of things like gift suggestions (or let families collaborate on ideas together), but kids could still encounter iffy content, so you may want to monitor your teen's time on the site.

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