A Parent’s Guide to Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “front page of the Internet.” It is one of the most visited sites in the world. It’s particularly popular with a younger demographic. If you’re a parent unfamiliar with Reddit, here’s what you should know.

What Is Reddit?

Reddit is a content aggregator and discussion site. Users, often called “redditors,” post links or original content to the site where they can upvote or downvote content they like or dislike. Users can also discuss the content and comments can also be voted on. Popular submissions and comments float to the top, unpopular ones sink to the bottom.

Reddit is broken up into smaller boards, called “subreddits.” Subreddits focus on particular topics. Large and self-explanatory ones include r/news, r/books, and r/canada. Other subreddits are devoted to more niche interests, such as r/fallout, which is devoted to the Fallout game franchise, or r/moviedetails, which involves movie fans pointing out easter eggs, trivia, and interesting details in movies. Some subreddits are impenetrable and weird for anyone not neck deep in Internet culture, such as r/birdswitharms, a collection of pictures of birds with arms, or r/trebuchetmemes, a collection of memes about superior medieval siege equipment.

Individual subreddits are run by moderators, who are unpaid volunteers. The site is run by administrators, who are paid by Reddit.


The largest cyberbullying problem on Reddit is harassment. Due to the site’s sheer size, disagreements are common and some users respond with harassment campaigns against users they dislike for whatever reason. Harassment can take the form of public comments or private messages.

If your child experiences this, your first step is to document the harassment by screencapturing the harassment. You may need evidence later and it’s possible for the harasser to delete their comments.

The next step is to report the harassment to the moderators. To report a comment, select the Report button under the comment. To report a link or post, click the Report button under the link; note that you’ll have to be on the discussion page for said link. To report a private message, select the Report button under the message. Note that for private messages, you can also select Block User to prevent that user from sending you messages in the future. It’s better to block someone harassing you than to respond to them.

If this doesn’t solve your issue, you can send a message to the site administrators. Scroll to the bottom of the Reddit homepage and select Contact Us, which is under Help. From here, select the option Message the Admins.

Toxic Subreddits

Another cyberbullying issue on Reddit is toxic communities. Some communities are inherently toxic and promote cyberbullying. For example, a now-banned community called r/fatpeoplehate was all about posting images and stories about obese people and saying nasty things about them. Sometimes this spilled over into the real world and users harassed real people. The toxicity of the community eventually got it banned by the site administrators.

Other toxic communities pop up from time to time. Eventually they get banned, but this sometimes takes time. It’s important to talk to your child or teenager about what kind of content they’re viewing online and help them avoid online communities that promote bullying, harassment, and other bad online behaviour.

Internet Vigilantism

As with any large social network, Reddit users sometimes engage in Internet vigilantism. An early example of vigilantism on the site involved a user named BadgerMatt, a kidney donor, who was attempting to raise money for cancer research in his father-in-law’s name. Users accused him of scamming and then the online harassment and death threats started. As with many cases of online vigilantism, the vigilantes had got it wrong. BadgerMatt wasn’t scamming, everything he’d posted was the truth, and the entire episode was unnecessary.

It’s important to discuss the dangers of online vigilantism with your child or teen. If they see or hear something that they think should be punished, there’s nearly always an appropriate authority who can do the job better. For more, read our article on the problems with online vigilantism.

The Bottom Line

This post shouldn’t lead you to believe that Reddit is an inherently dangerous place. We’ve focused on cyberbullying on Reddit because this is a cyberbullying blog, but it’s important to note that most users have perfectly good experiences on the site. The best way to understand it is to use it yourself. If you’re interested, perhaps you can start with r/mommit and r/daddit, two subreddits devoted to parenting.

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A Parent’s Guide to Scamming

This article isn’t about scams in general that target teens, although we’ve written about that stuff in the past. In the context of multiplayer video games, scamming has a specific meaning. Scamming is when a game player tricks or steals valuable game items or even an entire account from another player. Here’s what you need to know.

Trade Scamming

Depending on your age, you may remember a time when your elementary school banned trading stickers, pogs, or Pokémon cards. Why? Because kids can target each other with unfair trades and then make fun of the poor kid who gave up his or her sweet holographic shadowless first edition Chansey for a lowly foil Pikachu that isn’t even vintage. (Side note: we’re not still bitter about it, we swear.)

Well, the modern version of this happens online in video games. Many games have trade systems that let players trade in-game items, like weapon skins, taunts, dances, and more. And remember, these items, though digital, often have real-world value. If your child has ever borrowed your credit card for Fortnite items, you already know that.

A trade scam involves someone trying to convince your child to accept an unfair trade. Or they may use technical skills to misrepresent what they’re trading. Or they may offer to teach your child “this one cool trick” if your child hands over valuable items. After the bad trade, your child risks being ridiculed or harassed for making such a bad trade.  Sometimes videos of the scam are posted to YouTube, and there’s also a trend of individuals trying to scam the person who scammed them and posting those videos to YouTube.

Account Scamming

Account scamming is when someone tries to steal an entire game account, thus gaining all the items and games attached to said account. The goal may be monetary, as an entire account is often worth hundreds of dollars.

However, the goal may also be impersonation. As we’ve mentioned before, one type of impersonation is when someone pretends to be their victim in order to ruin their reputation. In a gaming context, they might also do things that get their victim banned from their favourite games.

Beware of services that require your child to enter login credentials in exchange for money, in-game currency, or other goodies. Make sure you speak with your child about things that seem too good to be true.

What to Do

The first line of protection is prevention. If your child is young, it might be a good idea to make a rule banning them from trading in games, at least until they’re more mature.

In terms of protecting your child’s account, make sure you have some kind of parental controls enabled. Specifically, you want two-factor authentication enabled and some kind of control over how the account is accessed.

After a scam, the first (and many times, only) step you can take is to report it. The steps you must take are different in different games.

If your child ends up starring in a scamming video on YouTube, you will have to report the video. To do this, look below the video. To the far right of the Like, Dislike, and Share buttons, there is a button with three horizontal dots. Click it and you get a down menu. From here, the first option is Report.

The Bottom Line

Games are safe, in general, but it’s important to be aware of scamming in video games. To learn more, read our non-gaming parent’s guide to online gamingand our gaming tips for the non-gamer parent.

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