What is Tumblr? Parent and Teacher Guide

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What is Tumblr? Parent and Teacher Guide

August 27, 2019
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Table of Contents

In 2019, Tumblr was sold by Yahoo to Automattic (WordPress.com's parent company). Since WordPress runs 34% of all websites in the world, that means that Tumblr - which is already incredibly popular with students - is going to get even more prevalent. Due to its consistent popularity among teens, it's recent acquisition, and its temporary removal from the Apple App Store, we've updated this Tumblr Guide with the latest info so that you can keep your students safe.  

Founded in 2007 (and sold to Yahoo! in 2013), Tumblr is one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms (Wiki). It hosts over 200 millions blogs and has 420 millions users, 42% of which are from the US. Moreover, 61% of teens at the age 13-19 years old consider Tumblr their favorite social network (according to Tumblr. and Digital Marketing Ramblings).

Warning to Parents: Tumblr is in our RED ZONE on our popular app guide page. This means it's one of the 17 bad apps your students should avoid.
Join our next webinar to learn more about the other bad apps (and why Tumblr is so bad). [/su_note]

Founded in 2007 (and sold to Yahoo! in 2013), Tumblr is one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms (Wiki). It hosts over 200 millions blogs and has 420 millions users, 42% of which are from the US. Moreover, 61% of teens at the age 13-19 years old consider Tumblr their favorite social network (according to Tumblr. and Digital Marketing Ramblings).

Tumblr is a blogging platform that makes it easy for users to post images, GIFs, videos, music, text, links, and more

  • The dashboard shows all of the posts of the blogs a user follows
  • Users can post from their dashboard
  • A post can be commented on, liked, or reblogged
  • Once a user signs up to Tumblr, they are presented with suggested blogs to follow
  • Users can search for keywords in Tumblr to find blogs
  • Tumblr is both a site and mobile app

Why is Tumblr so popular?

  • Tumblr can be used as a search engine for teens to easily find artistic media based on their interests (and the latest in memes and pop culture)
  • Teens like to share their views online and Tumblr gives them a creative outlet to do so
  • Tumblr was purchased by WordPress.com's parent company Automattic (which already runs 34% of all of the websites in the world) meaning its growth isn't going to slow down anytime soon

Teen Tumblr statistics

  • Tumblr is 1 of the top 10 most popular social media platforms
  • Tumblr’s audience is among the youngest with 45% being under 35 years old
  • Tumblr is more popular with 13-25 year olds than Facebook
  • According to Automattic's CEO, Tumblr has more daily active users than WordPress.com has monthly active users

Sources: Statista & Kanguro

Why should parents care?

  • There are very few privacy settings. Posts are public by default and there is no way to change your posts to private on the mobile app
  • Tumblr used to be full of pornographic info, now they are starting to remove it
  • Some content on Tumblr promotes unhealthy and dangerous behaviors
  • Since negative content is so prevalent on Tumblr, teens can start to feel like posting inappropriate content might not have any negative consequences
  • There are tons of seemingly safe words that when typed into Tumblr produce explicit content
"At its heart, Thumblr is a public platform. Don't be afraid to share amazing things, but do understand that it can be hard to completely remove things from the internet once they've been reblogged a few times."

Even Tumblr itself warns teens about the permanence of posting content online

Tumblr in the news

Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th [2018] in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions. –The Verge

Social networking site Tumblr has announced plans to ban all pornographic content, effective from 17 December [2018]. The new policy comes weeks after the site was pulled from Apple's App Store after child abuse images made it past Tumblr's filters. –BBC

After users reported the Tumblr iOS app disappeared from Apple’s App Store [in November 2018], the microblogging platform initially stated nothing more than they were 'working to resolve the issue.' Days later, with the iPhone app still MIA, Tumblr has published a longer statement identifying the issue: child pornography on the platform. –Mashable

In order to prevent illegal adult content from being hosted on the site (including certain violent or underage content), Tumblr has reportedly put numerous AI-enhanced safeguards in place, but which apparently failed to catch content in violation of Apple's developer guidelines. –Forbes

Anyone with an internet connection and an email account can sign up, meaning that your teen could be talking with a 40-year old from Canada or a convicted felon. You have no way of knowing. –TeenSafe

Tumblr's popularity among struggling teens is so notable that blogs like Tumblr Suicide Watch and Suicide Is Preventable attempt to identify and reach out to at-risk users. Not surprisingly, the reputation for being the platform of choice for sharing thoughts of depression and suicide is a distinction that Tumblr may not care to have. –Teen Vogue

Is Tumblr safe to use?

  • Tumblr is in our Red Zone because it is not safe for students
  • Sites in our Red Zone don’t help students build a positive online reputation
  • Users can only block people from contacting them but not from seeing their posts

What can parents do?

  • If your teen uses Tumblr, explain the dangers of the site and have them delete their account (and move to an app in our green zone)
  • Ensure that your student understands the repercussions of using social media platforms like Tumblr
  • 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
  • Challenge teens to blog about their passions, projects, and community efforts

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr allows anyone 13+ years of age to create an account.

It’s almost impossible to find people on Tumblr without knowing their usernames

Users can post on their boards, follow other bloggers, or search posts by keywords. Tumblr lets bloggers post various content, such as text, photos, pictures, music, videos, links and more. Posted content can be original or re-posted from others’ boards.

Most users choose nicknames instead of real names. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to find people without knowing their usernames. Instead, people can find other blogs from around the world by keywords and fields of interests.

All Tumblr accounts are public. There is no way to make your kid’s account private

What should parents know about Tumblr?

  1. All accounts are public. There is no way to make your kid’s account private.
  2. You can’t completely block another user from seeing your blog. Tumblr has an “Ignore this user” option. However, they still will be able to see your posts (though you won’t receive messages from them).

Kids send thoughtless posts on Tumblr and most of them use fake names for their accounts

  1. Kids send thoughtless posts. Most kids use fake names for their accounts. They have more freedom to express themselves and to talk freely about various topics.
  2. Content is unmonitored. Millions of posts are created on Tumblr every day. With around 300 employees, Tumblr’s team can’t check every post. Attention is usually given only to blogs that are reported by other users.
  3. Adult content can be found. Tumblr allows posting “adult-oriented” content.
  4. Millions of posts are created on Tumblr every day. With around 300 employees, Tumblr’s team can’t check every post
  5. Users, who don’t want to see it can hide such content from their newsfeed.
  6. Special policy for self-harm and suicide content. After the death of a British teenager in 2012 Tumblr changed its content policy to ban blogs that promote or advocate suicide, self-harm and eating disorders.
  7. Haters & trolls exist. Tumblr authors are at risk of being bullied by other unhappy users (AKA: trolls).
  8. Tumblr authors are at risk of being bullied by other unhappy users (AKA: trolls)
  9. These trolls are from around the world and they hide behind usernames. This gives them freedom to comment negatively on kid’s Tumblr accounts. This became popular on YouTube and other platforms.

Even popular celebrities can become victims of bullying on Tumblr

Taylor Swift was bullied by her own fans. She shared a photo of herself kissing a fan (who has frequently been accused of bullying other Swift fans). After that post fans got angry and even created a mean hashtag: #SwiftiesWantTaylorSwiftDead (From Refinery29).

What can teachers and parents do to keep students safe?

Explain to your kids that inappropriate online activity (even under a fake username) can harm their reputation

  • If your kid has a Tumblr account - have a conversation with them.
  • Ask kids to not share their real names, age, phone number or address.
  • Discuss bullying issues. Tell your kids that they can always come to you if they have a problem or a concern.
  • Explain to your kids everything they do online is traceable.
  • Inappropriate online activity (even under a fake username) can harm their reputation.
  • Teach your kids to be Light, Bright & Polite™ in real life, as well as online.

We hope our video and blogpost will help you to keep your kids safe. Comment below if you have more questions or share the app you have concerns about.

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