Tumblr App Guide (2023): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

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February 6, 2023

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Unlock this lesson to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on Tumblr

This Tumblr app guide will help parents learn:

  • Why Tumblr is so popular with students
  • Why parents should care about students onTumblr
  • Tips to keep students safe while using Tumblr

Learn why parents and educators should care about Tumblr

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


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Table of Contents

Although Tumblr has been around since 2007, changed ownership several times, and fluctuated in popularity, there is currently an upward trend of joining this unique micro blogging social media platform.  Many parents wonder if Tumblr is safe and appropriate for their students.  

Parent & educator video lesson

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

What is Tumblr?

“It's where your interests connect you with your people.” - Tumblr
  • Tumblr is a free, microblogging social media website and app
  • Creators can compose, post, and maintain their own personal blog wtih videos, photographs, memes, GIFs, text, and links to share with specific followers or the entire Tumblr community
  • Users can subscribe to other creators’ blogs, like posts, or send direct messages to other users

Top concerns about Tumblr

  • Tumblr allows nudity and mature subject matter, but “visual depictions of sexually explicit acts” are "off limits" (Source: New York Times)
  • Users must be 13 years or older to register for a Tumblr account, but there is no age verification and students could easily use a fake birth date to gain access to the site
  • Tumblr offers a live streaming service, Tumblr Live.  Live streaming is difficult to moderate and adult and mature content can be easy to find

What can parents & educators do?

  • Download the app, create a Tumblr account, and use it yourself for a couple of days to see if Tumblr aligns with your family’s values
  • Tumblr is listed in the SmartSocial Red Zone.  Visit our 130+ Popular Teen App list with your student to find alternative ideas that may better fit your student’s need with fewer potential dangers
  • If you decide to allow your student to use Tumblr, work as a family to adjust the privacy settings, hide adult content, and discuss why an anonymous username may be safer for your student to use
  • Remind students that other users they meet on Tumblr are still strangers and they should never go to another site to chat in “private,” give a stranger personal information, or meet a stranger in person

Additional Tumblr features

  • Private messaging is available through the app, although settings can be adjusted so that only accounts that you follow can send you messages
  • Tumblr can be a source for information on serious mental health issues
  • “Tumblr Live is marketed by the company as an opportunity for content creators to earn money while giving fans a new way to interact with their favorite creators.” (Source: PC Mag)
  • Users can tip other users with real money or pay to subscribe to “support” another creator
  • Tumblr Ad-Free is available for a monthly fee that allows subscribers to browse without advertisements
  • 61% of new Tumblr users and 48% of active users are Generation Z.  Gen Z is typically defined as anyone born between the years of 1997-2012 (Source: Britannica)

Additional tips for families

  • Create a family media agreement WITH your student to discuss appropriate content to both view and/or post on Tumblr or any other online platform and regularly communicate with them about their overall social media and screen time use
  • Consider using built-in parental control features on your student’s devices to block access to Tumblr via the web or apps if you do not want them to access the site
  • When you’re ready for your teen to be online - and they’ve expressed an interest in blogging - encourage them to create a personal website that can host their blog posts and use the SmartSocial Student Branding Academy to help them learn how to shine online

Privacy/setting recommendations for Tumblr

How to protect your account with two-factor authentication

  • Tap the person icon in the bottom right corner of the home screen (top right on a web browser)
  • Tap the gear icon in the top right corner
  • Tap “Account Settings”
  • Tap “Security”
  • Turn on “Text Message” and/or “Authentication app” and Tumblr will ask for a single-use login code along with your password every time you login

How to turn off notifications

  • Notifications can cause distractions on mobile devices. Turning off notifications and checking for updates at an appropriate time can help students concentrate better on other responsibilities
  • From the “Account Settings” page
  • Tap “Notifications”
  • Turn off all notifications to decrease distractions

How to limit who can send private messages

  • From the “Account Settings” page
  • Tap “Messaging”
  • Tap “Messages to username”
  • Tap “Only Tumblrs you follow can message”

How to limit who can reply to your blog posts

  • From the “Account Settings” page, tap “Replies”
  • Tap “Replies to username”
  • Tap “Only Tumblrs you follow can reply” for maximum security

How to limit how others can find your account

  • From the “Account Settings” page, tap “Privacy” 
  • Turn off “Let others see that you’re active” to remove the green dot next to your avatar when you’re active
  • Turn off “Let others find you by email”
  • Turn off “Better recommendations” to disallow Tumblr to use your search history to provide relevant recommendations

How to hide Mature Content

  • From the “Account Settings” page, scroll down to tap “Content you see”
  • Double check that “Hide” is selected for:
  • ~”Mature”
  • ~“Drug and alcohol addiction” 
  • ~”Violence”
  • ~”Sexual themes”

How to disable media from automatically playing

  • From the “Account Settings” page, scroll down to tap “Media auto-play”
  • Turn on “Never auto-play” to ensure GIFs and videos will wait for you to tap to begin playback

How to limit blog visibility

  • Tap the person icon in the bottom right corner of the home screen
  • Tap the gear icon in the top right corner
  • Scroll down and tap “Visibility” (Tap on the individual blog on a web browser)
  • Turn on “Hide username from people without an account”
  • Turn on “Hide username from search results”

What is Tumblr rated?

Apple App Rating:  17+

Google Play Rating:  Mature (17+)

Website: tumblr.com

Owned by Automattic (Founded in 2007)

Tumblr, Inc headquarters  in San Francisco, CA

Privacy Policy

Terms of Service

What others are saying about Tumblr

Examples of Tumblr dangers in the news

Tumblr says clothing is optional again. Reversing a 2018 ban, the company said that nudity and "mature subject matter" would be allowed.  But "visual depictions of sexually explicit acts" remain off limits
"We now welcome a broader range of expression, creativity, and art on Tumblr, including content depicting the human form (yes, that includes the naked human form)..." - The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal Tumblr shoots for a comeback with users and advertisers. The multimedia blogging website's latest owner wants to protect the quirkiness of its users and content.  That makes things tricky for marketers
"As the commotion surrounding Twitter’s new ownership leads some users to consider moving to smaller social-media sites, Tumblr is pitching its free-to-use microblogging service as a welcome throwback to the early internet: a place where people can be as weird, creative and nerdy as they like by posting and reposting media from photographs to poetry."  - Wall Street Journal

Why do students want to be on Tumblr

GenZ's hunger for 2010's nostalgia is giving Tumblr a new lease of life
"As companies like Facebook struggle with the Gen Z demographic, Tumblr has, for some of them, emerged as an attractive 'vintage' alternative – comparable to the return of disposable cameras among young people. - The Next Web
  • Oftentimes, students want to connect with a community of like minded people and with more than 565 million blogs on Tumblr, students are sure to find others who share similar interests and passions (Source: Tumblr)
  • Tumblr also allows students to create their own blogs, in their own voices to share with a wide audience and receive feedback 
  • Students may hear their friends talking about Tumblr at school and be curious to find out what the site has to offer as content consumers or creators
  • Tumblr claims, “Tumblr is whatever you want it to be.” (Source: Tumblr) and many students find it a safe space to creatively express themselves
  • With major changes happening on Twitter, many users are leaving Twitter for Tumblr or reactivating their old accounts (Source: The Atlantic)

Key terms/slang about Tumblr

  • Dashboard - The scrollable feed of posts from blogs a user follows
  • Important Blue Internet Checkmarks - Any Tumblr user can purchase 2 (or more) checkmarks to appear next to their blog name.  They have become a fun symbol in artwork across the platform. Tumblr’s dig at the Twitter blue verification checkmark  
  • Tumblr Blaze - A paid method to promote and increase the popularity of your posts. Tumblr Blaze is only available to users over the age of 18.  When used, the post will will be shown as “Tumblr Sponsored” 
  • Gifts - Virtual goods that users can purchase in TumblrMart for real money to send to other creators
  • TumblrMart - The online marketplace where Tumblr users can purchase virtual gifts for other users
  • Hellsite High - Tumblr’s online guide with tips on how to use the site and grow your blog


Although it is gaining popularity and is often used by Gen Z, SmartSocial ranks Tumblr in the Red Zone due to inappropriate content being allowed, low privacy restrictions, and a high potential for your students to  interact with strangers.  

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Listen to the MomTalk podcast where Rachel and Andrea discuss Tumblr

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 serious mental health issues.

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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