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What Parents Need to Know About Musical.ly

What Parents Need to Know About Musical.ly (Offspring)
A dad named Jack R. says just about every week, his 9-year-old son asks if he can use the app Musical.ly. His son’s best friend has been telling him that everyone at school has an account. After hearing the kid beg all summer, Jack finally decided to download it onto his own phone and sign up himself so that he could look into the privacy settings and “see how stranger-danger it was.” When he entered his gender (male) and birthday (he’s 32), Jack says he was bombarded with content he never expected.

Musical.ly is a social media platform that lets users make and share 15-second videos of themselves lip syncing to various sound clips, from the latest Cardi B hit to comedy bits to the voices of other users. Gary Vaynerchuk described the app as a “a mashup of Vine, Snapchat, and Dubsmash,” which is accurate. With tools such as Instagram-like filters, special effects and a magic wand that instantly makes your face look smoother when you click it, anyone with a smartphone can be a DIY producer and star. (If you’re at the mall or airport and you see a tween turning her camera on herself while mouthing words and doing some choreographed moves, chances are she’s on Musical.ly.) As they rake in fans, Musical.ly users (a.k.a. “musers”) are showered with hearts and comments and sometimes even sponsorships. The app’s most famed video makers can command fees of up to $300,000 per sponsored post, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz lately about Musical.ly and installed it on my phone. I haven’t taken the time to start playing with it as of yet. I may not be the target demographic.

It’s intended for young teens (and used by kids even younger)

Make no mistake, Musical.ly cofounder and co-CEO Alex Zhu wants young people to join the community—he has said that the way to start a social network from scratch is to attract teens as early adopters.

From Business Insider:

Zhu first landed on the idea when he watched a group of boisterous young teens on the train in Mountain View, where Google is based. Half of the teens were listening to music while the other half took selfies or videos, covered them in stickers, and then shared the results with their friends.

That’s when Zhu realized he could combine music, videos, and a social network to attract the early-teen demographic.

This is something to be aware of, and keep our eyes on. First, there is the concern about the actual app. Then there is the need to think about the motivations of the developers, and others on the community. Finally, there is the need to think about what this screentime does to youth.

Musical.ly is popular—right now in the App Store, it’s ranked 16th in free apps, ahead of Waze, Twitter and Google Chrome. But it has a problem: many of the most dedicated users are kids. Eight-, nine-, ten-, eleven-year-old kids. This alarms parents, who’ve cited a multitude of concerns such as porn and other inappropriate content slipping through the filters; privacy issues; and a worry that their children will develop an unhealthy obsession with popularity. If your kid has been pleading for this app, here are some things you should know.

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