Reddit is designed for adult users, not kids. It’s not a safe place for kids or younger teens because of risks including predators, misinformation, dangerous online challenges, and data leaks. Children younger than 13 are not allowed to make an account on Reddit in accordance with The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Despite this, Reddit is immensely popular among young people. Therefore, it’s important for both parents and teens to understand the dangers of Reddit, learn how to filter out mature content, and find ways to keep personal information safe. Some of the key steps are:
- Oversee your child’s Reddit account.
- Secure your child’s Reddit account by changing the privacy settings.
- Report offensive posts and comments.
- Block users as required.
- Talk to kids about online safety.
- Consider using a parental control tool like Bark.
Founded in 2005, Reddit is currently one of the most popular social media sites worldwide with more than 430 million monthly active users and over 100,000 active communities. In fact, it’s commonly referred to as “the front page of the internet.” Although the platform is designed for adults, it’s immensely popular with younger people too.
The question is: is Reddit safe for kids and teens? What kind of parental controls does it offer? In this article, we’ll look at everything that parents should know about keeping their children safe on this platform.
How to Keep Your Child Safe on Reddit
Reddit can be used on the web and as an app on iOS and Android. The official age requirement is 13 and older but there’s no age-verification system in place. Moreover, those who don’t have an account on Reddit can still access and read some of the forums. So, even younger children can easily view it without an account, although they won’t be able to engage with any users.
Reddit is a forum with a vast amount of content on almost any topic imaginable. Users can choose to follow topics of interest that are further divided into discussion boards known as “subreddits.” It functions somewhat like a Facebook feed, but users can choose to see only what they’re interested in.
Users can post anything they want, including text, links, images, and videos. This makes it a minefield of inappropriate content unsuitable for children. However, stopping your kids from using this platform or making them delete their account will likely make them want to use it even more and this could expose them to dangerous content and situations. Instead, it’s better to help them use it in a controlled way and stay in the know about what they’re doing. Let’s have a look at some of the safety tips and parental control options below.
1. Oversee your child’s Reddit account
If your child wants to use Reddit, we recommend that you create their account with them or at least ask them if you can get access to it. This way, you can control the settings and keep an eye on what your child is doing on the platform. To create an account, go to the Reddit website or download the Reddit mobile app and click “Sign Up.” You’ll need an email address and a password.
2. Secure your child’s Reddit account
Reddit does not have any advanced parental controls, but there are some settings you can adjust to help your kid be safer on the platform. These settings help make the profile more private, keep out mature content, reduce data tracking, and prevent strangers from requesting to connect.
Note that your child can always log out of the account and view content without any restrictions. That’s why it’s important to encourage them to stay logged in when using the platform.
Here’s how you can set up your child’s Reddit account in a private and safe way:
- Log in to Reddit.com on your desktop. Unfortunately, not all settings are accessible in the app. Click on your account profile in the top right corner and select “User Settings.”
- Click the Profile menu button.
- Scroll down to the Advanced section. Turn off “Content Visibility” and “Active in communities” visibility, which will help keep your child more anonymous online. Your changes will be saved automatically.
- Next, select “Safety & Privacy” and deselect all options so your child’s activity isn’t used to offer personalized ads and recommendations.
- Scroll down to “Advanced Security” and turn on two-factor authentication to discourage unauthorized users from accessing the account.
- Two-factor authorization requires using an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator or Authy. When you toggle it on, you will be guided to set it up. First, you’ll be asked to enter your password.
- Then, you need to get your authenticator app ready and use it to get a verification code.
- Once you’ve finished the process, go back to the “Safety and Privacy” screen. At the bottom, click on “Manage third-party app authorization” and remove permission for connected accounts so data isn’t shared across accounts.
- Next, click on “Feed Settings” and toggle off “Adult content” so it doesn’t appear in your child’s feed or search results.
- Click on “Chat and Messaging” and make sure that “Who can send you chat requests” and “Who can send you private messages” are both set to “Nobody.” Now, strangers can’t send chat requests or private messages.
Once you and your child have altered these settings, they can already use Reddit in a more secure way.
3. Report posts and comments
Despite the security settings explained above, your child may still encounter hateful content or bullying. Teach them how to report such instances. You can report offensive posts as well as offensive comments.
To report offensive posts, follow these steps:
- Click the “…” at the bottom of the post and select “Report” from the dropdown that appears.
- Select a reason for the report and click “Submit.”
To report offensive comments, follow these steps:
- Click on the “Report” button below the comment.
- Select a reason from the options and click “Submit.”
4. Block users
Apart from reporting users’ posts and comments, you can also block individual users so they can no longer contact you. Teach your child how to do this, too, so they can manage their contacts on the platform.
- Go to the user’s profile and click “More Options.”
- Select “Block User.”
You can unblock users at any time if needed.
5. Talk to your kids
It’s essential to equip your kids with the knowledge and skills that can help them stay safe online. Honest and open communication is crucial. Here are some tips:
- Be involved: Talk to your kids about their favorite websites and apps and what they enjoy doing online. Listen with an open mind and be supportive rather than critical.
- Help them understand the risks: It can be challenging to grasp cybersecurity concepts such as passwords, phishing, and viruses. Try to explain these to your children in ways that are easier to understand. For example, you can explain that sharing a password with someone is like giving a stranger the key to your home.
- Show, don’t tell: It’s easier for children to understand things they can see rather than things they’re only told. Demonstrate online safety to them whenever possible. For instance, you can sit with your child and show them how to create strong passwords for each website they use. Explain how they can use combinations of different letters, numbers, and symbols but still make it easy to remember by tying the passwords to memories unique to them. You can even include their accounts in your password manager for easy access.
- Be gentle: If you feel your child has engaged in inappropriate behavior, explain it to them and discuss what they can do to avoid it in the future. For instance, if you learn your child is chatting with strangers on Reddit, talk to them about the possible dangers and why they need to avoid such engagement. Ensure that your child feels safe confiding in you about anything they experience online.
- Set some rules but stay flexible: Involve your child in the rule-setting process to establish trust and ensure that the rules will be followed. For instance, if you’re deciding which subreddits they are allowed to view, let them have a say in it too so they can take ownership of their online safety.
- Evolve with time: Remember that, as your child grows older, their internet usage needs will change. Adjust the rules accordingly to ensure they remain relevant. For instance, your child may need to spend longer on their devices for school work or may have new interests that they want to explore online.
- Practice what you preach: You are your child’s role model, so it’s vital that you set a good example. Abide by the rules you’ve set so they are motivated to do it too. If you set a time limit for your child’s internet usage, limit your own usage too and take time away from the screen. Or, if you’ve established a rule for no devices during meals, make sure you put yours away too.
6. Consider using a monitoring tool
There are several parental control apps that can help you monitor your child’s activity on Reddit and other platforms. One of the top choices is Bark, which monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and over 30 different social networks for security concerns. It’s affordable, efficient, and respects your child’s privacy by only surfacing potential security issues. For more information, click the button below to visit the Bark website:
The Dangers of Reddit
It’s important to understand the dangers that Reddit poses for kids and teens so you know what you’re dealing with. Since it’s essentially a platform designed for adults, here are the potential risks that children may face:
- Mature/sexual/violent/otherwise inappropriate content
- Bullying & abuse
- Dangerous online challenges
Let’s have a look at each of these dangers in further detail below.
1. Inappropriate content
Young and vulnerable teens can easily stumble upon discussions that involve hate speech, white supremacy, violence, pornography, and other disturbing themes. While healthy discussions and informative talks about these topics can be very productive and useful, seeing unfiltered and heavily opinionated content at a young age can have negative effects. Most teens are not prepared to handle that kind of content.
Moreover, a lot of posts on Reddit are tagged NSFW, meaning “not safe for work.” This often includes sexual and adult content. Although Reddit has a setting to filter out adult content, it may not keep out all such posts. Therefore, in order to help your kid, you can teach them to stay away from age-inappropriate topics. Also, let them know that they can come to you if they ever see a post or comment that upsets them in any way.
Most users are active on Reddit under a pseudonym. Because anyone with an account can message other users and comment on posts, your teen could talk to any number of strangers. Some of these users might be predators lurking on the platform with the sole purpose of trapping and grooming youngsters. Children are more likely to trust strangers, which makes them vulnerable targets for these predators.
An important step in making sure your child stays safe is to teach them to never give out personal information and other details of any kind online.
3. Bullying and abuse
Cyberbullying is a serious concern and Reddit can be a breeding ground for it. Strangers might abuse and manipulate teens and children on the site, pushing them to engage in behaviors they don’t want to participate in or might even be harmful. Teens can also be blackmailed by people stealing and posting their private information online.
When this happens, Reddit is often unable to stop it. For instance, in April 2021, The Verge reported that a woman sued Reddit for allowing her ex-boyfriend to repeatedly post pornographic images of her as a 16-year-old.
Dictionary.com defines misinformation as “false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.” In 2018, misinformation was Word of the Year, which wasn’t a surprise. Social media ensures misinformation travels fast and reaches all corners of the internet, including your child’s computer. A study published by The Ohio State University states that misinformation is getting trickier to spot. Hackers from other countries use photos, videos, deep fakes, Twitter accounts, and false context to create entire hoaxes based on false information.
Talking to your child about misinformation and making sure they understand that not all information on the internet is true can help them navigate Reddit in a more critical way.
5. Online challenges
It’s easy to see why challenges are popular with kids online. Some online challenges are hilarious — but they can also be terrifying. TikTok dance challenges have been a family bonding experience during lockdowns and entire schools got into mannequin challenges a few years ago.
On the other hand, there are challenges, like the Tide Pod challenge, which have ended in physical harm for teens. Some challenges, like Reddit’s 50/50 Challenge (or Reddit FiftyFifty, Reddit 50 50 challenge) expose users to incredibly graphic, traumatizing content.
If your child is aware of the possible dangers of challenges and learns not to give in to peer pressure, they can make better decisions about whether or not to take part in a challenge.
How Reddit Works
If you google Reddit, you’ll find the tagline “Dive into anything.” For better or worse, that’s precisely what you can do on this social media site. Reddit is organized into communities or “subreddits” on all kinds of topics. Subreddit URLs are preceded with “r/” before their topic. These topics can range from, for example, “r/screamingfish” to “r/celebrityarmpits!”
There are also more mainstream subreddits like “r/politics” and “r/worldnews.” Conversations around shared interests like “r/TVfantheories” are also popular. Most subreddits have their own theme, rules, and policies. Every subreddit must comply with Reddit’s content policy.
What can Reddit users do?
A registered Reddit user can post content to the site like links, photos, videos, images, or text posts that can either be upvoted or downvoted by others. Upvotes move submissions higher up on the subreddit, which will earn them more views. If a post gets enough upvotes, it ends up on the homepage alongside the site’s top trending conversations.
In general, anyone can read Reddit content, but only logged-in users can comment, share, save, hide, or report content using the icon below the headline. Next to the headline, readers click on the “up” arrow to upvote (if you think more people should see the post), or the “down” arrow to downvote. Comments are also upvoted or downvoted depending on how relevant they are to the topic.
Redditors can give a variety of awards to specific posts, as well. Some awards are made available for free, whereas others can be bought with Reddit Coins. This is a user’s way of showing their appreciation for other people’s content.
How Reddit community content is moderated
As you can imagine, the huge amount of content on Reddit can hardly be controlled or moderated. The platform has historically established itself as a neutral home for all types of content. This creates the risk of your child coming across unsuitable content on Reddit.
However, Reddit still has a hybrid moderation scheme in place that attempts to keep content in line with its policy. Moderation happens on three levels: through Reddit administrator employees, decentralized volunteer moderators, and automated tools.
- Administrators: As a site, Reddit employs a team of administrators, or “admins.” They are responsible for keeping the site running, communicating any changes to the platform, and “enforcing Reddit’s rules and content policy.” Admins are the ultimate authority to manage content, subreddits, community moderators, and users.
- Moderators: Reddit community moderators, or “mods,” are volunteers, not employed by Reddit, who are self- or community-appointed. Mods can edit the appearance of a subreddit, dictate what types of content are allowed in the thread, remove posts, and mute or ban users.
- Automated tools: Reddit uses automated tools like AutoModerator based on algorithms that identify, filter, and remove content that goes against Reddit’s policies, such as child pornography. Mods can also use other online automated tools to improve the moderation of their subreddits.
Moderation isn’t perfect
Reddit’s moderation policies feel a little like the Wild West. Larger policy creators and administrators set guidelines that automated tools and mods interpret to use within their own decentralized moderation scheme. It’s a multi-layered approach to keep out inappropriate content.
However, a New America case study on Reddit moderation tactics raises many questions about reliability, bias, accuracy, and accountability. It’s not clear how much content moderators flag or remove from subreddits, nor what kind of content that is.
In 2020, Reddit announced it would have a “quarantine” feature to fight against misinformation. When a subreddit is quarantined, a message board appears that displays a warning, requiring users to opt-in to the subreddit. However, Reddit community moderators say it’s barely a ripple against the ocean of misinformation available on the site.
Conclusion: Is Reddit Safe for Kids?
Considering its structure and settings, Reddit is not safe for kids and teens under 17. Even with content moderators and safety features, there is a high likelihood of your child stumbling across something inappropriate on Reddit. Even so, there’s no denying that the platform is wildly popular because of its niche content, meme culture, and virtual communities that cannot be found elsewhere.
Parents need to walk a tightrope between allowing their children to enjoy the internet’s front page while staying safe. The best way to do this is to participate in your child’s content consumption and impart digital literacy from a young age. Encourage them to share their interests with you and educate them about the possible dangers they may face. Teach them about privacy and online security measures so that they know how to stay safe. Remind teens to think critically and be skeptical of everything they see online.
For more tips, check out some of our articles on kids’ online safety:
- How to Keep Your Children Safe Online: The Definitive Guide!
- Is Roblox Safe? How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
- Is Discord Safe? How to Keep Teens Safe on Discord
- Protecting Kids on Minecraft: Is Minecraft Safe for Kids?
If you’re looking for more information about Reddit safety, read our frequently asked questions section below.
Not necessarily. Reddit is designed for adults, not kids. The many links, photos, videos, and text posts shared by unknown users can pose many risks for children such as violent content, misinformation, and predatory behavior. However, the platform is popular among teens, so it’s vital for parents to know how to keep children safe on Reddit by tweaking the account settings, maintaining open communication with kids, and using a parental control app.
As a parent, you can keep your kids safe while they use Reddit by doing these things:
- Talk openly to your child about digital literacy.
- Set the right privacy settings on Reddit.
- Install a family security app to monitor and notify any malicious activity.
Our full article will tell you everything about kids’ safety on Reddit.
Reddit is a global online community where anyone can post almost anything. This leads to several risks, especially for children, including unsuitable/violent/sexual content, predators and bullies, misinformation and brainwashing, and dangerous challenges. Therefore, it’s essential for parents to know how to keep kids safe online.
Not really. Although Reddit only allows users over 13 years old, it does not have an age-verification system. Moreover, content can be viewed even without having an account. Reddit does have a few privacy settings and content filters, but there are far from enough to safeguard your child. That’s why it’s advisable to use a parental control app that can help you monitor your child’s activity on Reddit.