What Parents Should Know About Tumblr

This week’s question comes from a parent in Florida. Have something you’re wondering about? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to find an answer: info@joshgunderson.com

It’s become impossible to go a day without hearing or seeing something about Tumblr. The guy sitting next to me in Starbucks is surfing the site as I type this. Chances are you have heard your kids talk about the site at one point or another.



Tumblr is a microblogging/social networking site that allows users to post various forms of multimedia to their page. The site operates on a “dashboard interface” where bloggers have the option to create content, follow other blogs or re-blog entries by others. In May of this year, Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo! for $1.1 Billion. (This isn’t important to the entry, I’m just bitter).

Bonus! This week’s entry includes a vocabulary lesson!

Dashboard – The dashboard is the primary tool for the typical Tumblr user. It is a live feed of recent posts from blogs that they follow. Through the dashboard, users are able to comment, reblog, and like posts from other blogs that appear on their dashboard. The dashboard allows the user to upload text posts, images, video, quotes, or links to their blog with a click of a button displayed at the top of the dashboard. Users are also able to connect their blogs to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, so whenever they make a post, it will also be sent as a tweet and a status update. (This is something a lot of sites are allowing users to do- WordPress, for example, allows me to cross-post entries to Twitter, LinkedIn and even my own Tumblr Blog!)

Queue – Users are able to set up a schedule to delay posts that they make. They can spread their posts over several hours or even days. (This is a feature I LOVE! I am able to write a bunch of entries and schedule them- if you’ve ever wondered how I do it…this is my secret. I queue.)

Tags – For each post a user creates, they are able to help their audience find posts about certain topics by adding tags. If someone were to upload a picture to their blog and wanted their viewers to find pictures, they would add the tag #picture, and their viewers could use that word to search up posts with the tag #picture.

HTML editing – Tumblr allows users to edit their blog’s theme HTML coding to control the appearance of their blog. Users are also able to use a custom domain name for their blog

So, to the question, should parents be concerned about Tumblr? Like a lot of social networking sites out there, it’s totally up to you whether or not you want your child using this media. I, personally, enjoy my Tumblr and often find myself getting incredibly distracted while scrolling through my Dashboard (this is a good and bad thing). Here are some things to keep in mind:

Tumblr is not private. That being said, it is. Here’s what I mean. When you create your Tumblr blog, it is completely public and you have no option to change this. The only way to have a private Tumblr blog is to create a secondary blog. This second blog can be set to be password protected so that only people with the password may view it.

From there, privacy is up to the user. Educating your kids about what is and is not appropriate information to post can help keep them safe. Even pictures can reveal too much information. Monitor your child’s blog as you would what they are watching on TV and what videos games they are playing. Let them know what content is appropriate for them to follow as well.

User Interactions
Tumblr allows users to set up an option to have fellow blogger contact them through an “ask” button. There are a few options to how people can contact you. On the settings page for your blog you can select the “ASK” option which allows users to send you short messages. With this option selected only registered users can send a question. There is an additional option which allows for “anonymous” asks. This options allows people to contact you anonymously whether they are a registered users or not. I don’t suggest this option to be suggested for kids because this lends itself to bullying and harassment issues.

The blocking feature is rather limited in that you are able to block a user from contacting you but given the open-sharing environment of the site, you can’t block a user from seeing your content.

Speaking Of Content
Content on Tumblr is completely and 100% unrestricted and unmoderated. Unless something is reported as inappropriate, administrators aren’t combing through what others are posting. This gives users, including kids, unrestricted access to a wide variety of pornographic materials and other explicit content that you may not want them seeing. It is up to you to moderate and let your kids know what is and isn’t inappropriate content to be sharing and viewing.

Who is on Tumblr?
The site allows you to follow just about anyone from friends to celebrities. Though there is no set age restriction, the site does comply with COPPA in that users under 12 are not allowed (though it doesn’t nothing to check the age of its users despite the plethora of inappropriate content).

Josh, You’re On Tumblr?
Yep! When I first decided to start blogging I polled students about what platform they use. Tumblr was number 1 so I started both a personal and professional blog. When I found that my professional blog was being view more by parents and teachers, I decided to move to a more interactive-friendly site. My WordPress posts are still cross-posted to Tumblr for my followers there, but I blog more on this platform.

That doesn’t stop me from following my favorite Tumblr blogs! For a good Boston-related laugh I check out “The MBTA Ruined My Life.” As I’m a massive trivia-buff I’m a big fan of the “Did You Know” blog. And I, of course, follow my friend, fellow Disney buff and fashionista extraordinaire “Leslie Kay’s Disneybound“.

If your kids are on Tumblr, rather than going nuts and telling them they can’t use it. Take the time to check out what they are viewing on the site. Getting involved and being interested in what they are doing is going to go a lot further than lecturing. Maybe create your own blog and share and follow your kids blogs. This will give you piece of mind and keep you on top of what your kids are up to in the online world!

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

2 thoughts on “What Parents Should Know About Tumblr

  1. Pingback: What Parents Should Know About Keek | Breaking Down Digital Walls

  2. Pingback: What Parents Should Know About DisneyMix | Breaking Down Digital Walls

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