My kids have become obsessed — O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D — with musical.ly.
And up until recently, only Maddy had an account.
Owen and Cora, though, asked for an account just about every day, and finally I relented.
I must be getting tired in my old age, after how long I made Maddy wait for an Instagram account for about forever, look at me with my second and third children just letting them dive into the wilds of social media without care.
But if you know me, you will know that’s not the case.
I’ve thought long and hard about allowing Owen and Cora to have a musical.ly account, and I’ll explain why I think it’s okay.
Here’s the skinny. . .
What is musical.ly and Should I Let My Kid Have An Account?
I’ll start from the beginning.
What is musical.ly, and why should you even care?
From the musical.ly website:
musical.ly is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos.
Every day, millions of people use musical.ly as an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing. The app celebrates creativity with videos recorded in 15 seconds or less and shared across the musical.ly community.
Picture this: you have the ability to make cool, short videos–songs or short dialogues–that you can share with the world, and people can see them. Think MTV meets SNL meets karaoke meets Dubsmash meets American Idol meets Instagram. Kind of.
People can watch another person’s musical.ly and either:
- like (click a heart)
- comment (click a dialogue bubble)
- ask a question, start a duet!, share on facebook, share on instagram, share on FB messenger, share via twitter or email or text message or vine or link (by clicking the three dots)
- shoot a video using the same song or clip (by clicking the spinning circle)
By clicking the + bottom of the screen–no matter where the user may be on the platform–he or she can create a 15-second video.
Users can pick music, shoot first, or use something from their own library. But it seems that that a popular way of finding songs or clips is to borrow from friends’ or followers’ music. You can do this easily.
When picking music from the musical.ly library, you can search for a song or choose according to a million different topics:
- lip-sync classic
- muser voice
- and the list goes on and on and on and on.
Or, you can choose from your own music library on your device.
Friends, I am not going to pretend that I know everything there is to know about musical.ly. I do not.
But I do know this:
- musical.ly terms of service require that users be at least 13 years old to use this platform;
- musical.ly community guidelines are very clear in the way they want the platform used:
- Post musicals you love
- Like, follow and comment
- Flag inappropriate content
- Be nice
- Have fun!
- musical.ly community guidelines state how the platform should not be used. Users should not:
- Post explicit content or nudity
- Spam Comments
- Bully, harass or disrespect other musers
- Post personal information
And I know this, and you should know this, too:
- If you don’t already have a Family Media Agreement, you should do that now.
- Some of the songs and clips and audio pieces have curse words or inappropriate content. Make a rule that your child may not choose these types of songs. (Think: They may see and hear this kind of thing on tv or in school, but they are not permitted to use it themselves, lip-synched or not.)
- If your child has a musical.ly account, you should check it now. You should always know the user name and password, and the minute you check and it’s been changed, the account should be closed and the device confiscated. (Think: You’re in charge. You pay the bills.)
- Make sure that the account is private. (Think: Do you really want anyone to have access to your child’s videos? And it’s not just viewing the videos; anyone can comment on public videos. Sometimes the comments can get pretty rough.)
- Make sure that the location service is off for the account. (Think: No one needs to know where you child is–ever.)
- Make sure that your child knows the majority of–if not all–of his or her followers. (Think: Followers have access to your child’s videos. Followers can see and comment on your child’s videos.)
- Make sure that your child follows only accounts that you deem appropriate. (Think: This may be difficult to determine, but I bet you can get a sense of each person by watching a handful of videos.)
- Make sure that your child knows that you, as the parent, may at any time, check his or her account. That should go for texts and emails and any other social media platform that your child uses, video games included. (Think: You pay the bills. Privacy schmivacy. When we were our kids’ ages, we had to have all phone conversations in the middle of the house on a phone attached to the wall. At least I did. . . )
- Make sure that your child understands that his or her worth is not and cannot be dictated by the number of likes or followers he or she has.
- Make sure that your child is following a few decent accounts so that he or she sees what awesome, cool, creative videos look like.
And now maybe you’re wondering why on earth I let my kids have accounts? Here’s why:
- I like that the musical.ly videos are creative and interactive.
- I like that the videos are short.
- I like that the musical.ly videos involve thinking outside the box.
- I like that there’s a mix of acting and singing.
- I like that kids take risks by putting themselves out there to create videos.
- I like that the videos encourage users to be silly and fun and to not take themselves too seriously.
- I like that musical.ly provides a ton of examples of cool videos which kids tend to try to mimic.
- I like that if the account is private, and you only approve people you know, that you can kind of keep things under control.
- I like that in the comment box, there’s a reminder to be nice.
- I like that they often have community challenges–engaging users to make specific types of videos or videos to certain songs.
- I like that often these videos provide a starting point for conversation with kids–because as they get older, that can be tough.
What do you think? Are you for musical.ly or not? Do your kids use it?
I’d love to know.
Because really, we’re learning as we go here.
If you want or need a bit more on digital literacy, start here:
This post is part of our Digital Kids series:
Read more about raising digital kids:
- help kids start a blog
- analog twitter wall
- game design for kids
- get kids started with texting
- texting as a learning tool
- helping kids use powerpoint
- digital wellness
- beach learning
- keep kids safe online
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