If your child has a knack for writing and loves to express his creative side, chances are he’s stumbled upon the Wattpad app and website. But is Wattpad safe to use for kids?
While the app can be a great creative outlet for kids, it can also be dangerous if they access the wrong material or get approached by predators. With more than 90 million people using Wattpad every month, it’s important to be in the know so that your child can still have fun, but be safe at the same time.
What Is Wattpad?
Wattpad first launched in 2006 and is geared for those ages 13 and up who love to read and write.
Users can upload their original stories and even design book covers to attract more readers. Stories are voted on for their quality. Writers can see how many people viewed their stories and which ones are favorites as they continue to create.
One of the cool aspects of Wattpad is that kids also learn how to take criticism as writers. They have the chance to get their feet wet when it comes to the editing process. They can see the comments readers make on their stories and the critiques that can help them grow as writers. Many children like the idea of Wattpad because they can not only get their stories published but there’s also the possibility for payment.
For readers who don’t want to take part in the writing process, there is a wide variety of genres from fiction to mystery and paranormal to check out. Basically, there’s a type of story for every reader out there.
Age Restriction and Use
While Wattpad was created for those 13 and up, children need to be honest about their date of birth.
“This can help prevent them from seeing mature content if they’re under 17, thanks to Wattpad filters that try to block out inappropriate content,” Titania Jordan, Chief Parenting Officer at Bark Technologies, tells Parentology.
So, if a child pretends to be older, inappropriate content may end up at their fingertips. This is why it’s good for parents to be present with the profile setup and to check back from time to time to make sure the young person hasn’t changed the dates.
It’s important to keep in mind that while these filters do work, there are times when inappropriate content can slip through the cracks and into the hands of children. Another thing to be aware of is that children can browse the site anonymously, which could make this type of content accessible as well.
Potential Inappropriate Content
Since Wattpad isn’t a kid-only website, there is content that you wouldn’t want your child to stumble upon. One of the most popular genres on Wattpad is romance. There are mature stories that are tagged for explicit sex scenes, graphic descriptions, and more. While Wattpad tries to prevent excessively inappropriate content from being published in the first place, it can sneak by and be read before it’s flagged and removed.
Kids may also read content created by other kids that talk about issues they are not ready to handle. Since Wattpad is an outlet for writers, subjects like eating disorders and abuse are not uncommon.
Jordan suggests that parents tell their children to talk to them about stories they find that are mature but not labeled as such. It’s also important to talk about the kinds of stories they like to read and write about. While kids want their privacy, it’s a good idea to lay out the rules when it comes to your family’s values and content.
Protecting Your Child from Predators
One of the big things to remember about Wattpad is that while it can certainly boost a child’s creativity, it’s also a social media site. So, there’s always a chance that strangers could try to approach your kids inappropriately.
Jordan tells Parentology that parents should talk to their kids about how predators could try to target them on these types of platforms and make them feel special as a way to lure them in.
“Stress that adults don’t need child-aged friends,” advises Jordan.
She adds that kids should know that they can always come to you if they feel uncomfortable by what they encounter online. This way, parents can report them to Wattpad for further investigation. There is also an option to mute a user which prevents them from having any interaction with you on the site.
If your child approaches you about using Wattpad, make sure they know what it’s intended for. This way, they can be creative while not getting caught up in any inappropriate behavior.