Tumblr

Website review by
Carla Thornton, Common Sense Media
Tumblr Website Poster Image
Rich microblogging site includes abundant iffy content.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 80 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational value

Kids can learn to express themselves and explore interests as part of a blogging community. Kids who prefer visual expression will enjoy creating posts supported by Tumblr's emphasis on less text and more media. With customization options, new bloggers can design a cool publishing space. But Tumblr provides only the barest of instructions and tools. Watch out: Without guidance on Tumblr, kids could get lost in a seemingly endless photo album. 

Positive messages

Messages are a mixed bag. Some posts are positive with supportive comments; others are heavy on snark and pop culture.

Violence

Teens can find descriptions, images, and videos of both fantasy and real-life violence, which is sometimes bloody.

Sex

Tumblr prohibits "obscene, pornographic, abusive, indecent" behavior and members younger than 18. However, text, images, and videos depicting full nudity and sex acts are rampant on the site and extremely easy to find. Users can chat with each other if they follow each other's blogs, so it's possible that teens could chat with adults in real time. Privacy can be guarded — but only through an awkward workaround, because the first profile a member creates is public and can be viewed by anyone on the Internet. For full privacy, members must create a second profile, which they can password-protect. Porn is a possibility if kids are creatively searching.

 

Language

Blog titles and text have a full range of iffy language, including "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Kids won't see a ton of ads, but many companies use blogs to promote their products.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Teens can easily find blogs that include pictures and posts about drinking, smoking, and drugs, especially marijuana.

What 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. As of 2017, there's a "Safe Mode" that users can toggle on and off that filters out racier content, but there's no lock or gate to keep teens from changing the setting.

 

User Reviews

Parent Written byblyle21 January 14, 2013

Just Calm down. Tumblr might be good for your kid. And the review of Tumblr... LOL "naughty fun" HA!

Alright. Tumblr is not intended for young kids. It's meant for teens and older. To create an account I think you have to be 13. Now, you might be thinking... Continue reading
Parent Written bySerenityFish September 25, 2014

Fandoms and Feminism

I actually joined tumblr about a year ago a little after I turned 13 (I registered as a parent for the respect I get- nobody pays attention to the Teens and Kid... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byjerseyystrongg November 25, 2011

Parents Need To Stop Blaming the Internet for their Problems

Yes, you have to use caution on these websites. There could be predators anywhere. But there is no where that it is required for personal information. I don... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bythinbones April 16, 2011

It's what you make of it.

I found the general review to be very misleading for parents. I absolutely love tumblr myself, and I'm not saying it's a bad site, but it's defin... Continue reading

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.

 

Talk to your kids 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.

  • Families can talk about issues that teens may see on Tumblr, from sex, gender, and body-image issues to violence. Read our guides for ideas on how to broach these topics.

  • 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.

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Website details

For kids who love connecting with friends

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