October 20, 2016

Share Everywhere

Musical.ly: Privacy Concern or Fun Children’s App?

Musical.ly is a stunningly popular app that’s been grabbing the attention of not just adults, but teens and even grade school kids. Using the Musical.ly app, users can:

  • Create brief videos of themselves lip syncing or dancing to songs or movie scenes, TV scenes, and it even has a special category for Disney films.
  • Create videos of users performing original work.
  • Create videos of remixes of well-known songs.
  • Post these to a feed for viewing.
  • Browse endless videos of other users and recording stars.

It’s important to note that some of the app’s top ranked users appear to be in grade school, even though Musical.ly’s TOS states it prohibits users younger than 13. This application doesn’t garner age information of users. Though this app attracts a large contingent of young children, it does not openly market to them. It markets to the 13 and over demographic, but the app company’s support page does have a section devoted towards parents.

So just because an app attracts a lot of kids who haven’t yet learned their multiplication tables, does this mean there is an inherent danger or privacy concern in this application, which really, is all about music and fun?

Sometimes that fun can go over the edge for a 10 year old. Whenever a tween is socializing with adults, there are too many things that can go wrong. It’s common for women and men in their 20s to be dancing and lip syncing in their underwear, strutting their stuff. And when a child sees this, they mimic that behavior and create the same video. Now adults are watching and sharing a video that your little girl shot in her bedroom. Not cool.

Thus far, there is no evidence or data that points towards any harm in young kids using this application, even though it’s marketed towards those older than 13 (perhaps just to comply with child privacy laws).

In fact, so far, it seems as though the biggest harm is the exposure of children to songs that contain sexual content. But gee, wouldn’t they be exposed to this on TV or at least, as far as lyrics, on an old-fashioned radio?

Parents should read the the Muscial.ly privacy policy to know just what information is shared, and should also encourage their kids to use the right privacy settings to prohibit the wrong types of people from seeing your children’s videos.

My young kids take dance lessons. All the kids at their dance school use Musical.ly. They asked me if they could download the apps to my phone (because my kids don’t yet have their own cell phones) for fun. It didn’t take much research and a concerned parent’s observation to determine my answer. My children won’t be using the Musical.ly app, and neither should your children.

Please consider sharing this post with other parents of young children.

Robert Siciliano

Community Educator at IdentityForce
ROBERT SICILIANO, CSP, the #1 bestselling Amazon.com author, is serious about teaching you about fraud prevention and personal security. Robert is a private investigator fiercely committed to informing, educating and empowering people so they can protect themselves and their loved ones from violence and crime in their everyday lives, both in their physical and virtual interactions. Robert, a Certified Speaking Professional with an engaging “tell it like it is” style, is a favorite source for dozens of major media outlets, leading corporations and organizations looking for the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Robert is accessible, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment with down-to-earth insights at a moment’s notice on breaking news that affects us all.