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Reddit: A Guide for Parents & Educators

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This Reddit guide will help VIP members learn 

  • What is Reddit?
  • Why do your students want to use Reddit?
  • Why is it dangerous?
  • How to navigate both the app and website
  • How to keep your student safe on Reddit

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Reddit: A Guide for Parents & Educators

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Reddit claims that it is “home to thousands of communities, endless conversation, and authentic human connection” (Source: Reddit, Inc). The popular site can be a great source of news and information and even a fun place to connect with others about a similar interest. However, with limited parental controls and light website moderation, Reddit can be dangerous for teens. 

In this guide for parents and educators, learn all about Reddit, the most important aspects of how students use it, why your student wants to use this social news site, the potential dangers, and how parents and educators can help keep kids safe online.

Is Reddit Safe for Teens?

  • When creating a user account Reddit does not ask to verify age, even though it states on the website that it requires users to be at least 13 years old to join
  • There are no parental controls built into Reddit
  • Explicit content and pornography are allowed and not difficult to find, but according to Reddit, it is supposed to be tagged with NSFW (not safe for work) 
  • Users can private or group chat with other Reddit users
  • The site promotes anonymity by only asking for an email address and username, that can be completely random, when registering for an account.  
  • Their are“Anonymous profiles so you can do you. On Reddit, you (not your job, number of friends, or social status) define who you are." (Source: Google Play)
  • Non-registered users can still visit Reddit to search and view posts in communities without signing up, but cannot join communities or subreddits

Parent and Educator Training Videos

What is Reddit?

Reddit Dangers

How Does Reddit Work?

Reddit Safety & Privacy Settings on Apple & Android apps

Reddit Safety & Privacy Settings on the Website

What Can Parents Do About Reddit?

Why Do Students Want to Be on Reddit?

  • Reddit used to claim to be “the front page of the internet” and young people like to turn to the site to find out the latest, trending topics - Reddit results often appear high in Google searches, so students may be using Reddit more than they realize
  • Students see it as a fun place to connect with like minded people with common interests
  • Reddit is a wealth of information - users can find specific communities on almost any topic
  • It can be a great site to ask questions and get advice anonymously
  • Memes and funny videos relating to students’ interests or ideas can be fun to find and share

More Information About Reddit

What is Reddit?

Reddit sign up example
  • Reddit is a social news website and app with more than 52 million daily active users with a free or paid premium version (Source: WSJ)
  • Reddit is a large community with a nearly endless amount of smaller communities, or “subreddits” for users to join and participate. There are more than 2.8 million subreddits to choose from (Source: Oberlo)
  • Redditors (registered users) can create their own original text posts with or without photos or video.
  • Users can comment, and vote on other users’ posts, ask questions, give and receive answers, participate in live Talks, and even create new communities
  • Subreddits are communities dedicated to specific topics. Users can find anything from breaking news to any random interest or hobby
  • Each subreddit has a volunteer moderator, rules, and a specific voting system
  • There is a premium membership available for a monthly fee that offers ad-free browsing and a members's lounge
  • r/______ - designates a subreddit or community
  • u/______ - designates a username

Where is Reddit available?

Reddit Lingo

Like many websites and communities, Reddit has some specific terms that describe the way their service works. Knowing these terms will help parents and teachers talk with kids about how they use Reddit:

Example of a Reddit Home Screen
  • Upvote - A virtual thumbs up that users can utilize to show their approval for a post and help it get moved to the top of the site
  • Downvote - A virtual thumbs down which users are encouraged to use if they think the comment or post doesn’t contribute or is off-topic
  • Coins - Virtual currency that can be used to buy awards for other Redditors
  • Snoo - The alien creature often found on Reddit is the mascot and registered trademark
  • Subreddit - A community about a specific topic
  • Admin - Reddit employee who manages site issues
  • Mod - Moderator, a volunteer who helps run a subreddit
  • AMA - Ask Me Anything
  • AMAA - Ask Me Almost Anything
  • AUS - Ask Us Anything
  • Bot - short for robot, and sometimes known as u/automoderator; an account that is programmed as an automation tool to help manage subreddit rules. Users can also create their own bots to execute a number of functions on Reddit (Source: Reddit)
  • CMV - Change My View
  • DAE - Does Anyone Else
  • ELI5 - Explain It Like I’m Five
  • Front Page - A personalized front page of Reddit featuring the top headlines from the user’s subscribed subreddits
  • FWP - First World Problems
  • IANAD - I Am Not A Doctor
  • IANAL - I Am Not A Lawyer
  • ITT - In This Thread
  • SFW - Safe For Work
  • NSFW - Not Safe For Work
  • NSFL - Not Safe For Life, explicit, offensive, and often gore
  • OOTL - Out Of The Loop
  • PM - Private Message
  • SMH - Shaking My Head
  • Sauce - Source of information
  • TIFU - Today I F***ed Up
  • TIL - Today I Learned
  • TL;DR - Too Long, Didn’t Read

Reddit in the News

Naturally, this content has the capacity to be highly depressing. A suicide hotline is displayed in a prominent position on the front page, alongside a disclaimer. ‘Overindulging in this sub[reddit] may be detrimental to your mental health’ - Time


[The] Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges in hundreds of detailed allegations that Reddit refuses to prevent, detect, and remove known illegal content or ban repeat offenders who traffic in child pornography — all to Reddit’s profit… - Top Class Actions
Anonymous browsing warning


What is Anonymous Browsing?

  • Reddit’s solution for keeping your activity incognito on the app is the “Anonymous Browsing” feature
  • Browsing or search history will not be saved to your Reddit account
  • User activity while “anonymous” won’t be used to personalize recommendations or notifications
  • Features that are tied to the account will not be available such as: home feed, joining communities, posting, commenting, upvoting or downvoting, chat and messaging, broadcasting on RPAN, awarding, or MOD tools

Important Privacy Settings

The Reddit app on your student’s Apple or Android device operates a bit differently than the Reddit website. We’ve listed directions below on how to make your student as safe as possible in each of these settings.

Learn How to Keep your Profile Private

  • From the home page, tap on your avatar (upper right corner on Apple, upper left on Android)
My Profile example
  • Tap “My Profile”
  • Tap “Edit”
  • Scroll down and slide “Content visibility” to grey (off) to prevent the profile from being discovered in/users and to prevent posts from appearing in r/all
  • Slide “Show active communities” to grey (off) to keep your subscribed communities private in your profile
  • Tap “Save” at the top

How to Turn Off NSFW (Not Safe For Work) Content

Reddit does not offer parental controls for the app on Apple and Android devices. The NSFW setting defaults as turned off when a new account is created, but can easily be turned on by your student. This feature is not perfect, as the filter is dependent on the poster, or Reddit users, tagging the message with NSFW and inappropriate material can still be viewed. However, many posts use the tag, so the filter should greatly reduce the amount of explicit material students see. 

Apple 

How to turn off NSFW on Apple device
  • Tap on your avatar in the upper right corner
  • Tap “Settings” at the bottom
  • Tap the arrow to the right of “Display Language”
  • Tap “Open Settings” - this will open up the iOS settings for Reddit
  • Under “Reddit Settings”, the user can select to show or blur NSFW images. The “Show NSFW Content” default setting is off

Android

  • Tap on your avatar in the upper left
  • Tap “Settings”
  • Under the VIEW OPTIONS menu options, slide "Show NSFW content (I'm over 18)" to off, which automatically grey's out and turns off "Blur NSFW images
  • ~Note, the default appears to have been off from the start

How to Limit Chat and Direct Messages

  • Tap on your avatar
  • Select “Settings” 
  • Tap the arrow to the right of the username (look for “Account settings for yourname” on Android)
  • Scroll down to “SAFETY”
  • “Allow people to follow you” - slide this to grey (off) to prevent other users from following your account 
  • Tap “Chat and messaging permissions”
  • ~Under “Chat Requests” select “Nobody” to prevent other users from requesting chats
  • ~Under “Direct Messages” select “Nobody” to prevent other users from direct messaging your account

Personalized Recommendations

  • Tap on your avatar, and select “Settings”
  • Tap the arrow to the right of the username (look for “Account settings for yourname” on Android)
  • Under “BASIC SETTINGS” tap “Location customization” and select “No location specified”
  • Scroll down to “PRIVACY”
  • ~“Show up in search results” - slide to grey to prevent your student’s profile from appearing in search engine results
  • ~“Personalize ads on Reddit based on information and activity from our partners” - slide to grey
  • Scroll down to “SENSITIVE ADVERTISING CATEGORIES”  turn off all categories to limit ads about these sensitive topics based on your general location” - slide to grey to prevent Reddit from using your student’s city, state, or country (based on IP address) to recommend posts and communities

How to Keep your Student Safe on the Reddit Website

How to Turn Off NSFW Content

  • Click on the avatar and then click on the gear icon
  • “User settings” will be open and click the “Feed Settings” tab
  • “Adult content” is the top option -  Make sure that the blue button to the right is turned to grey (off) to prevent any NSFW material from being displayed
  • “Autoplay media” can be turned off to prevent videos and gifs from being automatically played in the viewport - slide button to grey to turn off

How to Keep Your Profile Private

  • From “User settings,” click the “Profile” tab
  • Scroll down to the bottom to adjust settings
  • ~“Allow people to follow you” - this setting will automatically be on, if you don’t want other users to follow your student then slide this to off (grey)
  • ~“Content visibility” - this allows your posts to appear in r/all (which is an all-encompassing subreddit for all users to view) and allows your profile to be discoverable in /users (how to search for other users). To turn off this feature, slide the button to grey (off)
  • ~“Active in communities visibility” - slide to off to prevent active communities to be listed on student’s profile
  • Click on the “Safety & Privacy” tab
  • ~“Collapse potentially disruptive comments” - users can determine what level of rude or disrespectful comments they want to view by adjusting the sensitivity level which will collapse certain comments. “Low” will collapse the least amount of comments and “High” will collapse the most
  • ~“Show up in search results” - double-check that your student’s profile will be hidden in Google search results by keeping this button slid to grey (off)
  • ~“Personalize recommendations based on your general location” - slide to grey(off) to prevent Reddit from using your city, state, or country (based on your IP) to recommend better posts and communities

How to Limit Chat and Direct Messages

  • Click your avatar and then click on the gear icon
  • “User settings” will be open and click the “Chat & Messaging” tab
  • “Who can send you chat requests” - choose from the drop-down menu to select from “everybody”, “accounts older than 30 days”, or “nobody”
  • “Who can send you private messages” - choose from the drop-down menu but note that Reddit admins and moderators from subscribed communities can always message you
  • “Approved Users” - add usernames of users that are allowed to message with your student 

Additional Resources for Families

Conclusion

With 20% of Reddit users falling into the 10-19 age group (Source: Statista), it’s important for parents to understand how and why students want to use the social media site. Although it can be a fun and interesting place to connect with others and find answers to questions, Reddit can quickly turn dangerous and toxic for students.

Listen to MomTalk Podcast while Beth and Andrea Discuss Reddit

With so many resources available and so many people wanting to help, suicide can be prevented. Check on your friends and family members often and let them know you’re there for them. Let’s work towards getting rid of the stigma of talking about mental health. 

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or call 911 immediately. If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text HOME to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

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Login as a VIP to learn more about Reddit

This Reddit guide will help VIP members learn 

  • What is Reddit?
  • Why do your students want to use Reddit?
  • Why is it dangerous?
  • How to navigate both the app and website
  • How to keep your student safe on Reddit

Unlock this guide to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on Reddit

Login or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about Reddit!

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

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