Is Reddit Safe for Kids?

Words by
Morgan Wilcock

AUG 02, 2023

Is Reddit Safe for Kids?

Reddit is a global online forum for discussing any and all topics, and it’s grown in popularity a great deal over the last decade. This social media platform allows people to connect over niche interests through photos, videos, or text posts. 

Reddit’s hallmarked anonymity, which attracts millions, means that users can post wild and sometimes inappropriate content. This presents substantial risks to kids and leaves them vulnerable to stumble across violent content, pornography, and even predators

several smartphones with notifications floating above them

What is Reddit Mostly Used For?

When users first navigate to the platform they are greeted with the headline, “Front Page of the Internet”, which Reddit has coined their homepage where trending topics and posts are found. 

Because of its extensive platform, Reddit can be used to connect with communities, called “subreddits”, on almost every topic. From politics to pie, trivia to tourist traps, any Reddit user can read up or post about their specific interests and hobbies.

The sheer amount of subreddits is mind-boggling, and Reddit users are likely to come across more than a few strange and even dangerous threads.

teen girl on laptop on floor of her bedroom

Is Reddit Safe for Kids?

With such a large platform, content on Reddit is essentially limitless. Unfortunately, that means that it’s not difficult to come across harmful content like pornography, graphic violence, and profanity.

What age is Reddit appropriate for?

Reddit requires users to be at least 13 years old in order to make an account; however, beyond clicking a button, there is nothing to deter a child from lying about their age to access Reddit.

Any content that is inappropriate for people under 18 is labeled as NSFW, or Not Safe For Work. This content is often pornographic, suggestive, violent, and graphic. 

Practically any adult content you can think of is allowed on Reddit. Reddit’s policy regarding unwelcome behavior prohibits posting involuntary pornography, including explicit images of minors, harassment, hate speech/bullying, and any identifying or personal information. Other than that, anything goes.

For example, despite Reddit’s content policy, several subreddits include perverted and violent sexual imagery surrounding bestiality, rape, and abuse, specifically toward women. Others support extreme views that ostracize and belittle entire groups of people. 

Who’s policing this?

Subreddits are run by moderators, who are the creators of the individual subreddits. These users are in charge of making sure that the content posted on their page is appropriate and follows Reddit’s content policy. However, the level of appropriateness is up to personal interpretation. 

For example, some users may feel that nudity is art, whereas others would label nude images NSFW. And even with the NSFW filter on, finding totally nude images and graphic violence is shockingly easy. 

When a Reddit user creates a subreddit with anything they deem inappropriate for kids,  they can label it“NSFW”. However, young users can simply click an age verification button to be granted access, viewing everything that a not-safe-for-work community has to offer.

Administrators that are actually employed by Reddit will contact moderators if their subreddits contain abusive or inappropriate content to have them take it down. If recognized, it could be several days before that content is flagged by an administrator, plenty of time for a child to come across that harmful content. 

Even though Reddit has employed several methods to make sure that NSFW content is found and detected immediately after being posted, some may still find ways to bypass the automatic filters put in place by Reddit’s content bots.

Graphic violence on Reddit

In a subreddit accessible to all users called “morbid reality”, readers can access photos and video of brutal attacks and shootings along with transcripts of torture and rape. Users are only asked if they are over 18 to enter this space. There is no age-verification.

Is Reddit used for dating?

While there are several relatively harmless subreddits about dating horror stories and tips to finding “the one”, other communities are designated for connecting with other singles in a specific area. This makes teens vulnerable to predators on Reddit. While the platform isn’t known for dating, there are certainly places where users can connect with other people and plan a meet up—despite Reddit’s anonymity. 

creepy hooded figure on computer with face not visible

Risks on Reddit

Beyond the inappropriate content that can be found, Reddit also poses a significant risk to kids because of its anonymity.

Is Reddit anonymous?

Reddit is a unique social media site in that it doesn’t allow users to reveal their names or faces like one could on Instagram or Snapchat. Every user on Reddit is required to choose a unique username from a list of options, and then assign themselves an avatar from another list of options. 

However, this username can be customized by the account holder after the account has been successfully created and a real profile photo can be uploaded to replace the avatar. Although it’s quite rare that a Reddit user would reveal their identity, it is possible. 

The anonymity is what draws many users to Reddit since they can practically say whatever they want with no real-world repercussions. Predators may lurk on subreddits that kids typically populate and then take the opportunity to groom and abuse children. 

Private messaging on Reddit is possible once an account has been on Reddit and interacted with other forums, meaning that the longer a child or predator spends on Reddit, the easier it becomes for them to contact one another.

Is Reddit browsing tracked?

An email address is required to create a Reddit account, not to identify the user, but so that browsing history and preferences can be recovered from anywhere. 

However, Reddit can still be browsed anonymously by simply logging out. This incognito browsing leaves no trace or history, making it easy to hide a user’s activity on the platform. Users won’t be able to view adult content, but this doesn’t protect exposure to the more mild, but still pervasive unfiltered sexual and violent content. 

mom and daughter sitting on couch with tablet smiling at each other

How Do I Make Reddit Kid-friendly?

Reddit has some parental controls and tools for limiting content, however, they are ineffective because they can easily be toggled off within the user’s account. This makes staying safe on Reddit difficult for kids because there’s essentially nothing to deter them from accessing NSFW content they may be curious about.

Explicit content can be searched

Without an account connected to an email address, kids will not be able to see some NSFW content, but a simple search will reveal suggestive content and nudity, even with the adult content filtered out. 

Kids can easily toggle off the NSFW filter

Using an account, the NSFW filter comes standard, but it can be toggled off through a user’s account. Once they verify that they are over 18 (with only the click of a button), users are granted access to all kinds of disturbing and adult content. 

Other settings for privacy and data collection can be toggled to protect kids, but Reddit’s parental control options are limited, to say the least. 

Important Conversations

As parents, it’s critical that we have conversations about the types of content our children may be exposed to online. Discussing coping skills to use when they inadvertently stumble across concerning the content, are shown it by friends, or become curious can help protect them.

A Gabb phone is a great option to protect kids from harmful content that can be so easily found on the web. The best safe phones for kids limit access to social media. 

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