Is Music.ly Safe For Teens?

Music.ly (pronounced as if there were not a period), is a video social media platform based around (you guessed it) music and marketed by the company as a way to “live with passion, live music.ly”

It has been one of the most popular topics among teens in my office. And…one of the most concerning sites among their parents. My standard for anything teen related is to test it out myself.  So, today I created a Music.ly  account and started playing around with it.

Music.ly 101

Signing Up Is Easy

  • Download the app
  • Create a login by using your phone number, email, or Facebook account
  • Choose a user name (mine is playtherapymom) and password
  • Upload a selfie (or skip it)
  • Search for your contacts that are already on the app
  • Start following “popular” people as suggested by the app
  • Set your privacy settings (the default is public access to everything).

What Do You Do On Music.ly?

1. WATCH VIDEOS:

You can watch videos that other people made.  They are videos of people lip syncing and dancing to different songs.

Some of them are pretty funny. Some of them are frankly, just silly. Some of these kids are amazingly talented dancers and super creative people. Assuming you have friends on here, you would be interested in watching the videos that they made.

WHY?

You might be wondering why people would watch other strangers lip sync music videos.  The only answer I can give you is that it seems to be entertaining.

I have to admit that I got caught up for more than a few minutes just browsing the popular videos.  It gave me flashbacks to my childhood when we actually watched music videos on MTV.

2. CREATE VIDEOS

Next up, create your first video.  Start by choosing a song.  Then, there are different “special effects” that you can choose to enhance your video. Hold the record button on your phone and sing and dance away.

WHY?

Again, there is an entertainment factor is creating these videos.  It’s fun and silly and the effects make it even more fun and silly.  Honestly, it is harder than it looks to make it look good. The featured music.ly videos make it look so easy.  My videos were not impressive.

I can see why it is fun for all ages.  In fact, I think my toddlers will have a blast watching themselves sing “Let It Go.”  Follow me on music.ly and you might get to see that!

The Potential Dangers of Music.ly?

So, at first glance, this social media platform seems harmless enough. But is it safe?

Common sense media lists 50 reviews where people talk about potential dangers of this site and give a cautious approval for those 14 and up. Among their concerns:

Your Music.ly videos AND LOCATION are not automatically set to private.

The default setting is for anyone, anywhere to fan you and see your videos. This allows complete strangers to watch your videos and direct message you.

(Go to settings to set privacy settings for only friends can contact, hide location and set account as private). 

Quickly links to inappropriate content.

Using the hashtags, you can easily go from a harmless video to a mildly inappropriate video and some parents say, even to explicit adult content. (I will say I searched for inappropriate content and it didn’t come up as fast as I expected.  But, based on reviews, this seems to be a huge problem).

Music lyrics have suggestive sexual content.

The problem most parents seem to have is with young children lip syncing to music that has suggestive sexual content (that they may or may not understand) and often includes dancing that is also mildly to overtly sexual in nature as well.

(You can report inappropriate content directly in the app or by emailing info@musical.ly). 

Difficult to Monitor.  

With private settings and other restrictions in place, parents reported that it was still too difficult to monitor.  Many parents reported that children were messaged by “weirdos” or accidentally got linked to content that they were not looking for.

Time Consuming Distraction. 

As with most social media, this is a time consuming distraction.  A hunt for likes, a way to avoid homework, or something that keeps kids from going to sleep.  I can see where kids would watch and make these videos until sunrise.

Final Thoughts

I would not allow any elementary school ages children (or younger)  to use this app without DIRECT supervision.  Meaning, you are standing next to them while they are filming and are closely monitoring all content.

For children in middle school and older, I would proceed with strong caution.  Know your child and their level of trustworthy-ness. Do some research and set reasonable limits based on your child’s age, maturity, and current behaviors.

 

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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