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Education: The breadth of topics covered by subreddits means kids can learn something about anything -- but there's always the risk they'll run into info that's offensive or not age-appropriate.
Synopsis: Share, rank, and discuss news -- and adult topics.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that this social news site can inform and influence kids to both positive and negative ends. Reddit is a place for free speech and kids will see things that are credible, factual, and charitable as well as silly, offensive, and weird. To a degree, a voting system helps police the area. Links with the most positive votes float to the top of the page, but there's no telling why people vote the way they do (Dan Akroyd in a strip club vs. Q & A with a NASA scientist? Team Akroyd wins). Reddit is a peek into what people find interesting in the world and how they feel about it, but the adult attitudes and opinions expressed here can impact impressionable kids.
- Families can talk about the benefits and drawbacks of an open, free-speech community. What are the consequences of sharing opinions in an anonymous, public environment? What are good rules to follow when responding to others? Read Common Sense Media's Digital Life: Our Kids Connected Culture.
- Kids begin to form their moral and philosophical beliefs in their mid to late teens. How does the news affect them? Read Common Sense Media's Explaining the News to Kids.
- Families can talk about how to recognize bias and stereotyping in the media. Read Common Sense Media's Tips for Battling Stereotypes.
What's the story?
Kids can access links that lead to stories or photos on external sites. Once they register, they can vote, make self-posts, or subscribe to "subreddits" that focus on specific topics. The signup process doesn't require proof of age. Voting a link "up" or "down" affects its popularity over other stories on the page. Kids can comment in response to stories or other users, and then vote on those, too; a user with a lot of upvoted comments earns "karma," which doesn't affect the user's experience, but does look nice in the bare-bones user profiles.
Is it any good?
Reddit is an excellent example of the power of people; in its completely open environment groups have formed, campaigned, and raised significant amounts of money for positive change. Subreddits connect users with common interests while moderators keep things on topic and stick to clearly posted rules. The drawback here is the same as it is for the entire Internet -- there's just no telling what people will put out there. Links, comments, and entire subreddits may expose kids to biased, offensive, or sexual content. Reddit's best audience is a grown-up one.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Several groups have famously organized on Reddit to effect positive change, most notably raising tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for various causes.
Educational Value: The breadth of topics covered by subreddits means kids can learn something about anything -- but there's always the risk they'll run into info that's offensive or not age-appropriate.
Role Models: Reddit's "upvoting" and "downvoting" system results in the community creating it's own role models.
What to watch out for
Violence Links, subreddits, and user comments could have offensive content that references or describes violence.
Sex: Reddit has banned sexual or suggestive content that shows minors, but there are no restrictions on other sexy stuff. Subreddits can be made "adult only" but nothing prevents a kid under 18 from reading them.
Language: Links to news and information may be safe but, there's no way to predict what users will say in their comments.
Consumerism: Even for free users, ads do not intrude (in fact, they are difficult to find, period). An inexpensive gold membership lets users decide what ads they want to see.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Links, subreddits, and user comments could have content that references or describes drugs and drug use.