Started in 2007, Tumblr has become an outlet for teens to express themselves without having to worry about peer pressure and judgmental comments from others.
Teens have flocked to the service because of its ease of use and ubiquity among their friends but hidden behind the fun animated GIFs and and cool pictures is a dark side that is hard to avoid if you’ve used Tumblr for any length of time.
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Quote of the Week
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” —Albert Einstein
What is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a micro-blogging site that allows users to post just about anything online quickly and easily. It can be used on just about any device with an Internet connection.
The site says of itself: “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.”
Will Your Teens Want to Use Tumblr?
Due to the anonymous nature and ease which a user can change their account. Tumblr is a place where teens can be themselves and pursue interests without judgment from others:
Remember in the section on Twitter I said, “Twitter is also a place to follow/be followed by a bunch of random strangers, yet still have your identity be attached to it”? Tumblr is a place to follow/be followed by a bunch of random strangers, yet not have your identity be attached to it. Tumblr is like a secret society that everyone is in, but no one talks about. Tumblr is where you are your true self and surround yourself (through who you follow) with people who have similar interests. It’s often seen as a “judgment-free zone” where, due to the lack of identity on the site, you can really be who you want to be. The only Tumblr URLs I know of people in real life are my close friends and vice versa.
Plus, it’s simple in Tumblr to just change your URL if anyone finds you. Your name isn’t attached to that profile at all so without that URL it is pretty difficult to find you again, especially for the typical parent snooping around. This really helps make the site a place where people can post and support others posts. There is a lot of interaction on this website in the form of reblogs because people just simply have feeds of only things they care about (and are then more likely to support with a like/reblog). I wouldn’t say a lot of “socializing” — at least in the way we’ve defined it in our social media society—occurs on the site, but people can really easily meet others worldwide who hold similar interests. This makes it a very alluring site to join for many teenagers, even just to make new friends. —A Teenager’s View on Social Media
What should parents be concerned about?
While a lot of socializing doesn’t occur on the site, there are features that allows anyone to ask your teen anything. In addition, anonymity while beneficial in some cases can lead to trouble in others.
It’s estimated that 20% of the traffic to Tumblr involves porn. That means it’s really easy for your kids to find sexually graphic content.
According to Tumblr there are over 231 million blogs there with over 100 billion posts. That’s a lot of content.
When Yahoo! bought Tumblr there were rumors that it would either be shutdown or at least have some of the explicit content removed but that hasn’t happened yet.
This is a tough one. Since there are no policies against explicit content on the service it’s difficult to recommend it. Teens need creative was to express themselves and Tumblr can be a great tool for that.
Many parents aren’t on Tumblr and so teens feel free to express themselves without fear of their parents finding out what they’re doing.
The anonymous nature of the site can lead them into trouble. I’m suggesting you avoid this one.
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Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.