Last week, I started the weekly series Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About with some information about the Buzzfeed app. (Click on over if you missed it!)
Another rated 12+ app on the books today. I discovered Musical.ly because some of the youth group kids I follow post videos from it and I’ve heard their moms talk about it, too.
MY BRAIN: THIS MUST BE POPULAR. LET’S DOWNLOAD IT FOR RESEARCH.
MY HEART AFTER EXPLORING FOR HALF AN HOUR: THESE. LITTLE. GIRLS.
According to musical.ly’s website, “musical.ly is a video community that allows you to create, share, and discover short videos.”
App Age Rating:
The Musical.ly app, rated 12+ in various app stores, for a variety of “Infrequent/Mild,” sex or mature suggestive themes, crude humor, alcohol/drug references and violence. However, in the Terms of Service (TOS), it says,
“THE SERVICE IS NOT FOR PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 13 OR FOR ANY USERS PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED OR REMOVED FROM THE SERVICE BY MUSICAL.LY.IF YOU ARE UNDER 13 YEARS OF AGE, YOU MUST NOT USE OR ACCESS THE SERVICE AT ANY TIME OR IN ANY MANNER. Furthermore, by using the Service, you affirm that you are at least 18 years of age.”
Don’t worry. It’s not a typo. You are reading this correctly. Somehow, in some magical world, you will equally be ages 13 and 18 at the same time and when this phenomenon occurs, you can use Musical.ly. Just like BuzzFeed, the TOS warrants a user has to be 18 or older to access the site, however there is no verification process for either the website or the app, and the app is not rated 17+ (as there is no 18+ or adult classification in the Apple App Store. Other app stores do have 18+/adult classifications). And as you’ll see as we continue, I’d reckon most of the users are under the age of 18.
What You Need to Know:
While there isn’t much explicit content (at least at first glance), it’s easy to see that pre-teen girls have taken over this app like a sale on Hello Kitty pajamas at the store Justice. Sure, there are guys and people in their 20s (I really didn’t see anyone over the age of 25), but mostly? I’m seeing girls 16 years old and younger. Here are some screen grabs I took.
Musical.ly App Home Screen
And yes, while there is nothing inherently wrong with tweens singing 15-second soundbites of popular songs or quoting popular movies, or posting up their own movies…(wait), if me, a non-creepy almost-36-year-old-sexuality-researching-author can mostly anonymously create an account and access these videos, who else can?
(Pauses to let you answer).
If that’s not concerning enough, let me share with you the most disturbing part of this app.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE VIDEOS AND NOBODY HAS TO KNOW.
Sure, there are privacy settings (see below)…
…but the amount of public, open accounts is VAST. As you can see, you can also share them with anyone you’d like).
Share as a link or a video file
Two clicks and you just sent a video of an unknown underage girl to a friend while a copy is downloaded on your phone.
Now, before the “I can’t believe you posted videos of strange, underage girls!” emails/comments, note that these videos were already shared MANY times on Twitter and on other social media outlets. These girls didn’t have any privacy set up, so their videos were able to be shared and downloaded by anybody. To protect who/where they are, the videos are saved on my private Dropbox and I don’t have them linked to their actual Musical.ly profiles.
musical.ly is Rated Ages 12+ which, if parents have downloads restricted to this age group, will prevent younger children from viewing the material. Musical.ly can be a fun way to connect over popular songs and movies. It can be silly and in some ways, a great way to explore creative composition with photography and videography. Because the content is user-generated, there’s always something new to watch.
As with BuzzFeed, many parents restrict app download for teens to the 12+ rating. But even as musical.ly’s TOS states, nobody under the age of 18 should be using it. And anyone with the app (12 years +) can access the material (and share it) easily. We all know how society, and social media, lend to a “make your own fame” culture. Teen girls are especially susceptible to looking for attention online. (Really. It’s been studied. I’m not generalizing.)
Musical.ly Conversation Starters:
Do you know if your kids (especially teens) or their friends have the Musical.ly app? Check it out for yourself if you’d like to know more and plan to talk to your kids about it today.
- Have you ever heard of Musical.ly? Tell me about it.
- Do you have any friends who are obsessed with being famous on social media?
- What’s good about Musical.ly?
- What’s bad about Musical.ly?
- How do you feel when you get a lot of likes (or no likes) on something you put on social media? Why?
Remember, it’s not about freaking out or sheltering our kids forever. It’s about redeeming the conversation.
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