Tumblr is a free microblogging social networking app where users can blog about their ideas and interests via text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos. The blogs are often short-form and often include more visual images rather than long text entries. Tumblr is a platform that brings together many different interest groups and it currently hosts over 581.6 million blogs with 12.8 million blogs posted every day. Tumblr profiles are pages where users can display their interests and repost other blogs or ideas which interest them. Users can also set up shared blogs with others in their Tumblr community. The app is a good way for young people to develop their creative side and express this with others. Previously, Tumblr was removed from the App Store due to inappropriate content appearing on the platform.  However, the platform has made some changes in recent years, including its logo, and is now available on the App Store and Google play, but with a higher age rating.

The minimum age restriction for Tumblr users is 16 in the UK, however it does not have any rigorous age verification methods.

Some content, either flagged by users themselves or flagged by Tumblr as explicit, will be unavailable to those under 18.

The App store rate it as 17+ and Google Play gives it a ‘Parental guidance’ rating.

All accounts default to a public setting, where content can be viewed by all other users on the platform. A private setting is recommended.

Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.

Children and young people enjoy Tumblr as an outlet for their creativity and the opportunity to express their identity, interests, and creativity online. When you sign up to Tumblr you are asked to identify interests and the platform will then direct you towards content it thinks you would like to read and explore.  It can be an engaging and accessible space for children and young people to join communities and interest groups which can give them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to express themselves. It is especially popular with ‘fandoms’ (fans of particular shows, franchises, books etc.) as a forum for them to discuss updates, characters and plots or post their fan art. The website also has an artistic side where users can engage with photography and create aesthetics that are personal to themselves and their blogs. In recent years, the platform found it difficult to compete with emerging Apps like TikTok and fell in user numbers. More recently, the platform has gained in popularity with young people who want to express themselves in a different way, marketing itself as “welcome to weird”.

  • This is someone using Tumblr - and refers to the profile page which you can customise with gifs, video, blogs, links and things you like as well as people you follow. 

  • These are ways of interacting within Tumblr. You can choose a group chat on a topic that interests you and join.

  • You can message another Tumblr user through the platform if you are connected through the platform.

  • You can choose whether to be found through Tumblr or other searches, or whether to be hidden. You can also choose whether to let others ask questions or not. 

  • Tumblr allows users to have more than one blog set up and to create and share content collaboratively on a group blog. Users can have one primary blog and up to 10 secondary blogs. Only a primary blog has the main social and interactive features where users can like other posts, send messages or submit posts. Secondary blogs can also be set up as collaborative Group Blog where an admin invites other users, removes content and responds to Asks.

  • Your ‘Following page’’ shows you content that the Tumblr algorithm thinks you will like, as well as any blogs you have subscribed to and followed.  

  • This feature means that some people you follow on the platform are also following the same recommended content as you.

  • Users can add an ‘Ask’ page to their blogs where visitors are able to ask questions anonymously or with their name being shown. These can be replied to either privately or publicly.

  • This is where users can repost blogs that have seen and add a caption.

  • This feature allows users to comment on posts.

  • A feature which allows users to ‘Like’ posts.

  • A feature which allows users to share a post or blog either to other users on the app or on other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

  • A feature which allows users to keep up with other users or friends

  • The use of a hashtag (#) on a post allows all posts on the same topic by all Tumblr users to be grouped together. Users can then follow these hashtags to check for any updates on the topic.

  • This refers to a feed full of content recommended for you based on your previous viewing interests.

  • This feature is a user’s profile on the platform.

  • This feature allows users to create a poll about any question or content. Other users on the platform can respond to the poll.

Tumblr is primarily designed for teenagers and adults, where free expression and interactivity is encouraged.  As a result, there is a great deal of unrestricted and unfiltered content. When users first download the App, they are asked to choose at least five content areas that they are interested in, to start generating a feed of blogs on their homepage. Encourage your child to think carefully about the interests they select, as the algorithm within the app will continue to suggest similar types of content. The platform is unmoderated and it can present a risk to children and young people of being exposed to inappropriate content including graphic or violent content, misinformation or most notably, pornography or sexualised content. The platform is very popular with users who post fanfiction blogs which can be sexualised and inappropriate for younger users. By restricting who your child can access on the platform, your child is less likely to experience language or adult content that is not suitable for their age.  However, it should be acknowledged that your child may still be exposed to inappropriate content by their known contacts.

Blogs are public by default, meaning any posts users share can be viewed by all other users on the platform. Whilst it is possible to hide the visibility of an individual blog, this ultimately limits the engagement and interactivity with friends the platform was designed for. There is also a direct messaging feature, which can pose further risk if users are connecting with people they don’t know. Speak to your children about the risks of connecting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing any overtly personal or identifiable information within their blogs or chats. Remind your child to tell you if they have been asked more personal questions or have received messages that are upsetting or make them uncomfortable. It is also important to review the visibility and privacy settings to carefully limit exposure, unwanted attention and comments from strangers.

Users can also set up an ‘Ask’ page on their blogs where they are able to ask questions. The blog owner can then either reply to them privately or publicly. A risk here is that blog owners can enable an ‘allow anonymous questions’ toggle where other users or even those without a Tumblr account are able to ask questions without their identity being shown. This anonymity may encourage users to say or ask inappropriate or offensive things as they do not have to deal with the negative consequences as they normally would in person. This can be distressing for young people as the feature can be easily exploited by bullies. We would strongly recommend disabling this feature for young people using Tumblr or at least making sure users are unable to ask questions anonymously.

As with many other social media and blogging sites, Tumblr users may want to use this platform to showcase their individuality and personalise their account with posts, likes and interests that they can then share and display with friends.  The ‘Tips’ feature on the platform means users can also make money from other users offering a ‘tip’ for the posts they like. For some users, this feature can be an incentive for posting content for mass appeal in order to make money. Have a conversation with your child to help them understand what is and is not appropriate for them to share and discuss the various ways they can protect themselves on the platform. Ensure your child knows it can be difficult to keep ownership of any content once it has been shared online as other people can easily screen shot and widely share the content they post and how it will leave a permanent digital record. 

Tumblr has a focus on communities of interest and high volumes of short fragments of content

being continuously on offer to your child. This can be highly absorbing and it can be very compelling for children and young people when their content is liked and responded to by others. It can be helpful to put in place time limits and help your child regulate how much time they spend on the app. 

When users first download Tumblr, they are encouraged to enable all notifications. To help your child manage their time on the platform, use the notification settings within the app. The default settings also means your child will experience adverts on the platform. Tumblr markets ad-free browsing via a monthly subscription service.  Talk to your child about how advertising works, including targeted advertising. Explain to younger users how the platform gathers information from your viewing habits to tailor the adverts you are shown. There is also a facility on the platform for users to ‘Tip’ each other, linking to a secondary payment partner to set up payment details. Ensure your child has not linked any financial details to their account.

  • There are no parental safety settings on Tumblr and it is not possible to make a blog private. Instead, you can use the settings listed below to help manage interactions on the platform.

  • There are a few settings that can help manage interactions and content on Tumblr. You can stop people searching for you via your email address and you can reduce the visibility of your Tumblr account to reduce the amount of exposure it has. You can also limit who can send you direct messages. Finally, you can set some content filters to limit what your child is exposed to.

    To disable people from finding you via your email address:

    • Go to your account settings and select the ‘General settings’ menu.
    • Select ‘Privacy’ and turn off ‘Let others find you by email’.

    To remove your blog from search engine results:

    • Go to your account settings and select the blog.
    • Tap the gear icon and select ‘Visibility’ from the options listed.
    • Turn on the Hide [blog name] from search results option.

    To change the direct messaging settings:

    • Go to your account settings and select the ‘General settings’ menu.
    • Tap ‘Messaging’ select the ‘Only Tumblrs you follow can message’ option.

    To manage replies:

    • Go to your account settings and select the ‘General settings’ menu.
    • Scroll down to ‘Replies’ and select ‘Only Tumblrs you follow can reply’.

    To disable ‘Asks’ or questions:

    • Go to your account settings and scroll down to ‘Let people ask questions’.
    • Toggle off this option.

    To enable content filters:

    • Go to your account settings and select ‘General settings’.
    • Scroll down to ‘Filtering’ and use the ‘+New’ option to add the tags and content you would like to filter.
    • Note: this feature is only as reliable as the tags assigned to posts and is not a guaranteed method of filtering content.
  • Users can report and block other users who may be bothering them or behaving inappropriately on the platform.

    To report an account:

    • Go to the account you wish to report and select their username and the person icon.
    • Press the three dots next to their name
    • Select ‘Report’ and follow the options to complete your request.

    To report a post or blog:

    • Go to the blog or post your wish to report and click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner.
    • Select ‘Report’ and follow the option to complete your request.

    To block a post or blog:

    • Go to the post or blog you wish to block.
    • Select the three dots in the top right-hand corner.
    • Press block.

    To block an account:

    • Go to the account you wish to report and click the three dots icon.
    • Select ‘Block’ from the options listed.
  • Tumblr gives its users to opportunity to hide when you are active on the platform, so other users cannot see you are there. You can also manage notifications within the app.

    To manage active use settings:

    • Go to your account settings and select the ‘General settings’ menu.
    • Select ‘Privacy’ and turn off the ‘Let others see that you’re active’ option.

     To disable ‘Tips’:

    • Go to your account settings and scroll down to ‘Let people tip you’.
    • Ensure this option is toggled off.

    To manage notifications:

    • Go to your account settings and select ‘General settings’.
    • Scroll to ‘Notifications’ and work through the listed options that best suit your child.

Be aware that content restrictions are limited on the Tumblr app and that users may be exposed to various forms of adult content. You need to feel confident that the child in your care has the maturity to deal with the content they may see. 

The best approach as always is to engage with your child on Tumblr, to look at the kinds of content they are interacting with and what they are posting. This will help to increase your confidence that they are using it safely.