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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 9Gag is a place for young adults to have a laugh, express themselves, and broaden their perspectives, but it's not appropriate or intended for children. High schoolers may be plugged in, but most users are probably 20- and 30-somethings. There are plenty of posts that show violent content both in society as well as loads of profanity. Women are frequently referred to as "bitches" and men as "d--ks," and although there's no overt hate speech, there's a lot of harsh commentary that can erupt on the site. There's a heavy emphasis on fun and the female form, but occasionally, images and GIFs (such as stop-action videos) border on pornography. Although it's possible to block images categorized as NSFW (not safe for work) on the settings page (which alone demonstrates its adult nature), parents who are sensitive to advanced imagery may want to block this one. Parents also should know that there's no privacy setting or moderation overtly stated on the site, which could raise privacy and safety concerns.
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What's it about?
9GAG lets users scroll endlessly through memes, short videos, or plain images or register with an email address for the privilege of commenting on images or uploading (or linking to) their own. Uploads let users add titles and assign two of nine categories: NSFW (not safe for work), Meme, Cosplay, WTF, Cute, Food, Geeky, Comic, and Girl. Users can upvote or downvote images or report content, although there are no guidelines for reporting. Sexual topics are most likely to be encountered in the NSFW category but can pop up just as easily in Hot, Trending, or Fresh. Users can share content they like on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or email.
Is it any good?
9Gag is an image-commentary sharing site (for memes and more) that's super hot with gamers, manga enthusiasts, cosplayers, and young people in general across the world. According to the developer: "9Gag is your best source of happiness. Share any fun, get real responses from people all over the world, and vote on what you laugh at." 9Gag is often LOL funny, occasionally inspirational, and definitely controversial and clearly provides a street-savvy-type education to young people making their way in the world. To illustrate, an image series on pollution in China brings out some thought-provoking reactions and might serve to raise global awareness for some contributors.
Unlike SF-based Imgur, 9Gag offers no meme-creation tool, although the Poster menu item redirects users to a third-party image marketplace. The issue bigger than the violence and the language used on the site, of course, is the pervasive adult-level sexual content found there. This includes partial frontal nudity, videos of staged sexual acts under cover so they aren't seen directly, and clips that suggest sexual acts. The Girl category, mostly glamour shots of models or actresses, exists by itself, meaning there's no corresponding Boy category, which reflects a larger male focus -- even though there does seem to be some balance of female and male viewpoints in the comments. Either way, parents who want to keep their kids innocent just a bit longer may want to add this site to the blocked list.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the whole issue of adult- and kid-appropriate content: Why are these depictions of human bodies not appropriate for kids? Does the fact that they're online or anonymous make a difference?
Talk about the nature of public forums: What happens when one user doesn't like what another says? Are opinions accepted or cut down? Do users follow any particular etiquette?