Description: musical.ly is a video community that allows you to create, share, and discover short music videos. Videos can be up to 15 seconds, and by combining many of the attributes of Vine (looping video app) and Instagram (custom photo filters) and layering on popular music, it’s just a ton of fun.
Category: Social Media
APP Store rating: 12+ (“infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug, mature/suggestive themes, profanity or crude humor, sexual content and nudity,” etc.), although users are supposed to be at least 13 years old in order to comply with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which applies to websites and online services that collect personal information.
Race to the Bottom – musical.ly is still fairly new (released in 2015), but already seems to be following a predictable social media trend, which we elaborate on in a recent blog post, “Musical.ly Warning”.
Some Parental Controls – Similar to Instagram, users can set their profile to “private” in the settings, which allows them to approve those people he/she allows to see their created videos. The three settings circled in red in the image should be toggled on. There is also a block list and “musers” can report inappropriate profiles to Musical.ly (although we’re not sure how reliable Musical.ly is at taking action).
Porn Can be Found – Like other social media, Musical.ly allows users to upload their own content. Because of this, the nature of the content always eventually gives way to an abundance of pornographic material (just like with Vine, Twitter, and Instagram).
Too Many Youngsters – But, there’s a disturbing nature to this trend that is unique to Musical.ly. Due to the young age of users (upper elementary school and early middle school), younger and younger kids are at risk being exposed to inappropriate content and as a result, younger and younger kids seem to be actively participating in creating it. This means predators are lurking. We elaborate more on this in our parent warning blog post.
Hashtags – Musical.ly allows users to use hashtags to categorize videos. Musical.ly does have certain inappropriate words prohibited in the tag search, i.e., you can’t search for “sex”.
Horrible Lyrics – kids can create their Musical.ly’s using songs that contain explicit lyrics.
COPPA would say that kids need to be at least 13 to use this app (since it’s classified as social media), but even then, the risks feel too high. Our findings cause us to give this app a strong “no” when it comes to allowing kids to use it and the recent Medium article by Anastasia Basil seems to fully support this conclusion.
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Are you ready to have awesome conversations with your kids about how to use their technology well? Please visit our Protect Young Eyes Parent University, where you’ll find videos to watch with your kids, creating common vocabulary and awesome chats. Sometimes, when kids hear someone else talk about awkward things, it helps them really hear it for the first time. Please visit the PYE Parent University today!