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Sometimes I get really jealous of the technology and social media apps that kids today get to enjoy. Remember when you were a tween? Singing into a cassette recorder to your favorite hits, trying to assess and compare your vocal skill with Debbie Boon, Madonna, or Janet Jackson? As a child of the 80’s, I can’t think of anything that would have rocked my world more than an app like Musical.ly, with the exception of meeting Boy George or Michael Jackson of course.

This popular smartphone app seems like the best thing since sliced bread, but let’s take a deeper look.
Musical.ly is a social media app that allows users to create and lip-sync to their favorite songs in a short video, much like Karaoke but on the much bigger stage of the internet. The app has been around since 2014, has millions of users worldwide, and is rumored to have just sold for one billion dollars. For a company that has been around for just 3 years, that is pretty impressive.

What Parents Need To Know About Musical.ly

  • The App requires users to be at least 13 years old, but if you spend a few minutes on the app, parents can see there are kids well below that age limit.
  • Kids don’t use the privacy settings because it is a numbers game. The app has a direct messaging feature, and if it is not set only for “friend” then anyone can message your child.
  • Location, location, location. Setting the app to hide your child’s location seems like a no-brainer, but most teens and tweens don’t understand the potential dangers that exist, and won’t choose to hide their location themselves.
  • Not My Kid……maybe, but other users can post inappropriate sexual content, choose songs with explicit words, and record and post their friends without permission, which leaves the door open to cyberbullying.
  • If your child’s profile is set to public, anybody signed into the app can view your child’s videos and message him or her.

Musical.ly In The News

November 2017
An Idaho Falls father found his 11-year-old daughter sending inappropriate videos using Musical.ly.
“I saw her light was on and I walked into her room and she was sitting on the floor. She had on a pair of short-shorts, and her bra on. One of them was asking her to send nude ones, which I’m glad that she didn’t. She’s smarter than that, but still, the fact (is) that it’s happening.”

October 2017
A 39-year-old man pretending to be 13 years old was accused of enticing at least four underage girls to send sexually explicit images of themselves through the popular video-sharing app, Musical.ly. Some of the girl’s’ parents’ told authorities the user threatened to “kidnap, rape and kill” the girls if they told anyone what he said, according to the complaint.

August 2017
An unknown Musical.ly user who used the name “Jessy” claimed to be 9 years old and reportedly asked a 7-year-old Illinois girl to take and send photos without a T-shirt on, Batavia police said.

The scary reality is that Musical.ly and many other social media apps have become breeding grounds for online predators and like many other things in life, keeping your child safe comes down to effective parenting. How can you effectively parent your child if you don’t know what they are doing online?

Parents need to be more aware, engaged, and smarter and thanks to the new parenting tool, Social Judo, they can now do that. Real-time alerts sent directly to a parent’s phone about the things that are of concern are helping parents and children everywhere. Social Judo is a brilliant way to parent a child’s smartphone without spying and without frantically scrolling through their device the second they put down their phone.

Experts continue to weigh in that the time has come for increased parental presence when it comes to smartphones and cyberspace.

 

Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.