A Parent’s Guide to Tumblr


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest; most parents with a finger even vaguely on the pulse probably know what they’re dealing with when these social networks crop up. But a new, trendy online platform seems to pop up every 5 minutes and they all have ridiculous names.

If you don’t know your Huglrs from your Tinders, it’s time to find out more about the platforms your kids are using online and on their smartphones. Some are harmless, others are less innocent. Today the quib.ly web safety experts will be taking a closer look at Tumblr

What is Tumblr?

This is a trendy blogging platform which allows users to write posts, share images, share video, share quotes and repost interesting things from all over the platform. It’s a young, ‘cool’ crowd and the vibe is, in general, pretty good. There’s a lot of strong feminism, freedom of expression, equality and plenty of creative inspiration – however, as with anything on the internet, there’s also plenty less desirable stuff too.

The majority of teens use Tumblr to blog about their lives and share the only too ubiquitous ‘selfies’ or ‘gpoys’ (Gratuitous Pictures of Yourself) – this can be a concern for parents, but at least they’ve added ‘gratuitous’ to their vocabulary…

Is it dangerous?

You can set up a private account, but the vast majority of users have public profiles as sharing and discovery are central to the Tumblr experience. There is an automated ‘ask me anything’ option on most profiles, allowing anonymous messages to be sent to the Tumblrite in question. Equally, there’s plenty of sexual content out there, but this can be blocked and, in order to find it, your teen would need to go searching for it.

There’s no minimum age limit, which means that parents of younger teens and children may want to be vigilant about sign ups. Meanwhile the “block” feature is not what it could be. It prevents users from contacting you, but it does not prevent them from seeing your posts.

And the upsides?

On the upside, Tumblr is a generally artistic and intelligent online community – and there are a range of effective settings which allow you to limit the type of material which is visible to users. Sexual content can be removed by implementing the website’s safe mode.
It’s also a really fun creative place which makes blogging a less lonely experience. It’s also great for self-expression if you’re tired of being boxed in by personality-free networks like Facebook. If your teen is interested in fashion, feminism, post rock, football or anything in between, they’ll find a like minded community on Tumblr where they can inspire and be inspired in turn.

Can teens use Tumblr?

With good privacy settings (the ‘ask me anything’ option can be removed) and in safe mode Tumblr is a relatively safe space for older teens, but as with any platform, it’s advised that you take the time to sit down with them and ensure all privacy features are correctly set up.

There have been some concerns from parents who fear that Tumblr is a haven for pornography, pro-anorexia blogs and blogs which promote self harm – but this type of content accounts for a very small sub-section of the platform and is no different to the kind of content found elsewhere on the web. There are bad eggs everywhere and it is a shame to write off a great platform because of them. Make sure you teen feels that can talk openly to you about their online experience and remain vigilant.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your teen about the importance of not sharing personal information and thinking carefully about their digital footprint. Although content can be deleted and Tumblrs can be closed, the content they upload can be downloaded and saved by others, so users should think carefully before they post.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Quib.ly – I hope you found it as helpful as I do, because I have a Tumblr account and don’t really know what to do with it.


  1. says

    *kids self that this will never be a problem for me*

    Oh god, I can’t imagine a day when I don’t know Bean is up to on the interweb. It’s probably best not to imagine actually. *scared face*

    Really interesting post Carolin, I know nothing about Tumblr but this is really helpful :)
    MummyNeverSleeps recently posted…The F WordMy Profile

  2. says

    Tumblr is an odd beast – sort of like the blogging community only Tumblr *scratches head*
    I find it a hard one to pass judgement on as I can see the benefit for self expression and also how easy it could be for an overly emotional teenager to begin to wallow!

  3. says

    This is a great post as although I feel fairly confident online I don’t really use Tumblr so it isn’t on my radar. I think you are right that the most important thing to do is sit down with your kids and teach them about what is safe and what is sensible to include online. At Blogfest Tanya Byron said that children are no longer allowed to play outside, away from parental supervision, so now they are doing their growing up online. We can’t stop our children being part of online communities but we can hopefully guide them to stay safe and make sensible choices.
    Kirsty recently posted…A Touch of Magic This ChristmasMy Profile

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