What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that that this online hangout is hip and creative but too raunchy for tykes. The microblogging site and app showcases a range of user-generated content including product ads, pornographic images, depictions of drug use, and plenty of offensive language. Though the keyword search does block terms such as "porn," "f--k," and "sex," curious kids could stumble upon racy, and even raunchy, images and writings. (There's really everything under the sun here -- positive and negative.) The terms of service specify that Tumblr should not be used by children under 13, but the app stores rate it as mature and for 17 and older. Note that posts are public by default and there's only one privacy setting which is only available on the website -- not the app: Users can turn off the option to let others find their blog through an email address.
What's it about?
After setting up an account on TUMBLR, users are presented with several suggested blogs to follow or can search by keyword to find blogs; they can also create short blogs, or "tumblelogs." Teens can like posts or text and share photos, quotes, links, music, voice messages, and videos. They can reblog other users' posts so they show up on their personal blogs. By tapping a smiley face icon, users can chat with bloggers they follow. If they don't disable push notifications, users will receive notifications when their blogs have been liked or reblogged.
Is it any good?
Though it's a potentially creative outlet where teens can connect with others, it also has a lot of mature content and almost no privacy options.Though some might pick Tumblr over Facebook or MySpace, it doesn't really compete in that space. It's more of a cross between a blog and Twitter. Think of it as a superblog, a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, videos, and audio clips, offering information a wide variety of topics. For example, there are how-to blogs about eating disorders and also support-oriented blogs about preventing them.
The lack of a commenting feature, the oldest blog tool in the world, is rather annoying. But the look is sleek and the features Tumblr has are often inspired. Users can curate their followings according to their tastes. Reading on the phone or tablet is easy and appealing, and posting quick blogs-on-the-go is super easy, with a graphical interface for entering text, images, quotes, links, videos, or simply a "hello" greeting.
The snazzy microblogging platform has something for everyone -- except kids. Lowbrow humor abounds alongside more thoughtful content. Users should be aware that the option to chat with other users opens up possibilities for teens to have contact with anonymous adults. It's also important to note that, in the app, there's no way to prevent people from finding your posts by searching for your email address, so the site actually provides more flexibility within the settings. Overall, Tumblr promises good, naughty fun for the under-30 crowd and can be a solid venue for self-expression, but parents should think twice about letting minors join.
Families can talk about...
Families can discuss the wisdom of older teens joining a site such as Tumblr, which seems to have been created largely by and for 20-somethings. The content is by turns refreshing, juvenile, inscrutable, and sexually provocative.
Families can talk about how to responsibly use social-networking sites -- and how to react if someone posts something inappropriate. Set some rules for what is and isn't appropriate for your teens to communicate and post online. For example, discuss how text and pictures posted in a public forum are forever: Though it may not seem like a big deal to share something one day, posts with photos or comments about youthful misbehavior could come back to haunt them.
Remind teens not to give out personal information -- such as a full name, an address, or a school name -- to strangers. Some "meet-up" blogs have popped up on Tumblr in the past, and those are definitely not for kids.