Even if you have no interest in Tumblr, it is still worth learning about it because the site is very popular with kids, teenagers, and young adults. When Yahoo purchased it earlier this year, they sent a clear message that this format is here to stay for awhile. Micro-blogging is easy and many people prefer it over having to create large amounts of content themselves. I will list some basic resource links about Tumblr and what it is all about at the end of this post.
I became interested in Tumblr because my son loves to follow several blogs there about video games, Disney, and comics. I was concerned about this because every time he logs on to even the most innocent of Tumblr blogs, he ends up running into a lot of vulgar language and some questionable material. We’ve had many conversations about this and he tries to be careful with who he follows, but we have found that there is definitely more need for caution with Tumblr than we expected.
While I try to be very aware of what my kids are doing online, I can’t spend my life hovering over them. We have filters set up and we use a lot of the Google online safety tips and tools, but Tumblr seems to be a different kind of animal than most websites. I’ve spent several months researching how to make the experience more family friendly. I completed an online course about Tumblr from Lynda.com and I’ve even set up 2 Tumblr accounts of my own.
In a nutshell, I’ve learned that you are always a minimum of one click away from questionable content on Tumblr. That most usually comes in the form of someone’s user name (there are very few rules for what those can be) or from a comment that someone leaves on a post. There can also be disturbing images. There are “adult only” sites, but if they are marked as such, you can avoid those. Even the Tumblr site itself uses the f-word on their community guidelines page and frequently includes several profane words on it’s company blog posts.
What I’ve done:
- My son knows that I pay attention to what he is doing online. We keep our computers in common areas and talk about what we are doing. I’ve encouraged him to share funny stuff he finds on Tumblr with me and we look through the blogs together from time to time and talk about what we find.
- We’ve all installed the Simple Profanity Filter extension (free) for Google Chrome. This inserts *** where profane words appear. It’s not a fix-all, but it does help. I’m sure there are similar tools out there for other browsers.
- I set up a Tumblr account where I reblog things to share with my son. If you want to take a look at it, here’s the link. I’ve disabled comments and I’m super careful about what content I post and who I choose to follow. I try to only post from corporate or well-known sources like Disney, Sony Animation, Jim Hill Media, etc. Those type of accounts are going to be careful to maintain a family-friendly web presence. This has been a lot of work and I’m sure most people out there won’t want to spend this kind of time. It’s been a good solution for us because it is something my son and I enjoy doing together.
- I also have a Tumblr account set up for my Scrapbook Lady interests. I don’t post to it very often, but if you want to check it out, here’s the link. I’ve taken the same precautions as I’ve done for our Toy Tumblr so if you are looking for a clean Tumblr account to follow, this should be a good one. Again, I can’t control what you will find if you follow the train of links that can occur from reposting. I have disabled the comments though so that helps.
Obviously, I’ve only skimmed the surface here on what Tumblr is all about and I haven’t even touched on the copyright issues that are often a concern with this platform. Micro-blogging is still a relatively new format in the online world and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over time. There are a lot of good features to be found on Tumblr and I do love that it is so easy to post there. However, as much as I want to like it, there are still so many things that require extra vigilance. I’ll be interested to hear YOUR opinions on all of this! In the meantime, here are a few good articles you might find interesting as you learn more about Tumblr.
- Tumblr – Why Kids Love It and What Parents Need To Know – Internet Safety – Your Sphere
- Can Yahoo ignore Tumblr’s dark side? – Mashable
- What you need to know about Tumblr – CNN