in Android, Apps, iDevice, Technology

Social Media Highlight: Musical.ly

Musical.ly with logoOverview of Musical.ly

Musical.ly is an app first released in 2014. It lets children create and share music videos 15 s – 5 minutes long. In addition to home grown stars, more mainstream stars like Katy Perry use the app, and invite Musers to create music videos of their songs, as a way to promote new singles.

 

The terms of use specifies that a user must be at least 13 years old to use the social network. The app works on iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire. The app is rated 12+ in the iTunes app store, and Parental Guidance in the Google Play store. Users must log in to use the app. People who use the app are called Musers.

Musical.ly is one of a number of apps by the same publisher. Other apps to watch out for are live.ly for live video streaming, pingpong video walkie talkie, and squad group video chat.

Why Kids Like Musically

Musical.ly is attractive to children, including those below 13. When I first heard about it, it sounded like a fun app. Kids talk about how they can practice different dance moves, explore their creativity, and dance with friends. It’s like video karaoke, with friends. This all sounded good to me, and still does, but the dangers have dampened my enthusiasm.

Dangers of Musical.ly

While focusing on the fun aspects of Musical.ly, children fail to consider the dangers. There is a risk of a child accessing porn or other inappropriate videos on Musical.ly. There are a number of behaviors that may be dangerous for kids and teens using Musical.ly.

  • Create and share videos that show themselves or others in a negative light.
  • Follow strangers or allow strangers to follow them.
  • Host a party, and invite “friends” to it.
  • If they create a duet with someone else, they may be subject to their friend’s settings for the video.
  • There is explicit content on the site, both songs and adult videos. You child could stumble upon something, or actively go looking for it.
  • Hashtags make it easy to search the site for specific content, some of which are inappropriate for children.

Making Musical.ly Safer

I don’t think you should let young children use this app. If you think that your child is ready to confront the dangers in this app, help them make Musical.ly safer. Here are some suggestions of settings you can teach your child to make, or set up with your child.

  • Create an account so that you can explore the app, and follow your child. Here’s a guide to help you explore Musical.ly.
  • Make a musical.ly with your child to understand the attraction for them.
  • Implement private accounts so that only people who they allow to follow them can see their videos.
  • Understand the privacy settings for accounts and videos. The table shows who can see a person’s videos for each combination of settings:
    Private Account Public Account
    Private video (stored on iPad only) No one No one
     Public video (stored online) Only followers  Anyone
  • If you notice an inappropriate music video uploaded by your child, discuss the problem, and have them delete the video.
  • Use face filters to protect privacy.
  • Carefully manage who they follow. This will not completely protect your child from inappropriate content posted by others as musical.ly may post featured videos.
  • Enable settings that only allow friends to send messages.
  • Make sure that public information is at a minimun as it can be seen by all users. This includes profile picture, username, and short bio.
  • If you or your child sees inappropriate language, sex or violence, spam, or others, be sure to report abuse.
  • To learn more about this topic, see reviews from Protect Young Eyes, Be Web Smart, Common Sense Media, and the Musical.ly help page for parents.