Is Musical.ly Safe For Kids?

Is Musical.ly Safe For Kids?

Musical.ly

Updated 1st Sept 2016

What Is It?

Musical.ly 13+ is a free social media music app where users can watch user generated lip sync video, and create video themselves lip-syncing or dancing to music available on the app. It has over 80 millions users.  Choose your music, or mix someone else video and create your own short music or audio video using filters and video styles. It is a fun lip-sync style app, where users can mime and dance to music they choose from within the app or create their own music videos.

 

Live.ly

Users can also live stream to their Musical.ly friends/followers via Musical.ly’s add on app Live.ly which is also free and available for download only from the Apple app store.

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Musical.ly
Musical.ly

Age Ratings For Musical.ly & Live.ly

Although both apps are listed on iTunes as 12+ Musical.ly’s own terms of use as seen below specify you must be at least 13 years of age or…18 years of age. It’s not clear weather it’s 13years or 18years. See Below.

 

Age limit for Musical.ly 13yrs

Children’s Privacy – From Musical.ly

“We do not knowingly collect information from children under 13 and we do not want it. We will take steps to delete it if we learn we have collected it.

If you learn that your child has provided us with Personal Information without your consent, then you could alert us at privacy@musical.ly. If we learn that we have collected any Personal Information from children under 13, then we will promptly take steps to delete such information and terminate the child’s account.”

Dangers for kids:

  • 18+ content in the songs lyrics. Swearing and adult concepts in the provided music.
  • Pornography, graphic content, suicide notes.
  • Musical.ly users can search for other users to view or follow near their own location/city
  • User generated videos can be viewed and shared onto other social media and messaging apps increasing exposure
  • Bullying in comments.
  • Users can publicise their messager usernames or social media profiles on their Musical.ly profile
  • Live.ly live streaming is not private even if you have the privacy settings set up.
  • Using live streaming Musical.ly app Live.ly may mean larger exposure with mean comments, interacting in real time with viewers.
  • Many fake user accounts, used to hijack views or set up to bully.
  • Hacking of accounts by promotional accounts (Free Musical.ly Crowns) within the apps.
  • Not easy to report accounts for being fakes or underage inside the app.
  • Many underage accounts with large amounts of followers.
  • Easy for users to create multiple accounts and hide them from their parents.
  • Fake Musical.ly apps on the app store that charge for download or offer followers

 

Fake Musical.ly ad-on apps
Fake Musical.ly ad-on apps

 

 

Self harming in Musical.ly
Self harming in Musical.ly

Bullying

There is a potential for bullying in comments either on Musical.ly and Live.ly or on the other social media platforms where the video can easily be shared. Some users without privacy settings enabled are sharing their general location and schools if filming in their school uniforms. There is a risk of over exposure for younger children and teens. There is also a huge risk for users that publicise their other social media accounts on their profiles their or messager user names to be approached by strangers.

How Do I Delete My Musical.ly Account?

You can’t…..If you decide to delete your Musical.ly account at this stage deleting the content from the Musical.ly servers is not possible See Link. Of course you can delete the app from the device. Your child’s videos and account will still be on Musical.ly’s data base.

Privacy Settings

 (See settings below) NOTE: Privacy settings do not block adult content.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-25-at-4_10_53-PM-1024x861

Musical.ly Sharing To Social Media
Musical.ly Sharing To Social Media

 

Blocking

To block a user, or report abuse go to their profile, press on the “…” in the upper right corner, and select “block this user.” You can unblock a user on the same menu.

Block or report user on Musical.ly
Block or report user on Musical.ly

Reporting Inappropriate Content

To Report A Video For Abuse or Adult content Click the 3 dots lower right column of the video and click report Abuse.

Reporting Inappropriate Content On Musical.ly
Reporting Inappropriate Content On Musical.ly

In App Purchases

Users can spend money in this app to buy “gifts” but the app will prompt you to confirm you are 13years of age, and ask to verify a phone number via a code sent to a mobile phone number. If your child’s iTunes or Google Play account is linked to your credit card, make sure you turn off In App Purchases in the parental controls on your child’s device for Apple devices through “Restrictions” or via your Google Play account.

Conclusion

Younger Teens should be encouraged to use the available privacy settings so that they only share with friends, and therefor limit exposure. The adult content in the music is not suitable for younger teens or children. Some #Hashtags lead to graphic pornography or violent and self harm images or video. Younger children risk added exposure by having their videos seen and shared by predatory adults via the app. Musical.ly has spawned a huge market for fake add-on apps pretending to link to Musical.ly or boost followers and give crowns. These apps often cost money or may lead to a users account being hacked.

Always search on Google for a review for any App your child wants to use, or check this website or commonsensemedia.org before allowing your child to use an app! 

More reviews from parents reporting inappropriate content and bullying at www.commonsensemedia.org

Review from commonsensemedia.org
Review from commonsensemedia.org
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  • Ruthieh

    Ive worked out how to stop messages to her from people she doesn’t know, it is there a way to stop followers she doesn’t know, and if so how?

    • See the privacy settings I’ve shown above in this post

  • Rob

    live in fear much?

    • Living in fear is an over exaggeration in regards to this post. Facts however are important, learn what apps do and how you can set them for safer use.

      • Debra Witzel

        It’s frustrating when you try to do the right thing and someone accuses you of being the problem.

        There are a lot of people out there who like to put the blame on the messenger. They seem to think it’s our fault for pointing out the danger that should be obvious. I got pestered about it awhile back for saying I’d make sure something was safe before letting a kid climb on it. It’s not overprotective to check something for safety for your kids. It’s part of the job.

        If I’d warn my kids about walking barefoot into a field of tall green grass because of the risks involved, I’d certainly do the same with social media. It looks fantastic on the surface, but you don’t head in alone or without precautions. And that doesn’t kill the fun as much as a snakebite, does it? And in some ways, social media can sting you a lot worse.

        • Thanks Debra for your support, strangely there is a group of folks out there, that criticise educators for alerting parents to the pitfalls of the online world, but the same folks often deride parents for not knowing about the dangers. You can’t win sometimes 🙂 Caution, and investigating safety for our children helps to keep them out of danger, as you point out. I applaud parents who recognise they need more information and seek out help to understand what their kids, are might be using on digital devices. It shows a responsible attitude to being a parent.

    • Stephanie Price

      Police are investigating children being groomed whilst using this app, I don’t think that’s fear, that’s reality.

      • Thanks Stephanie, every now and then I get a comment about fear mongering or “living in fear” usually from younger readers who basically don’t want any restrictions for anything (no surprise there!). My job as I see it, it NOT to instil unnecessary fear at all, but to point out the consequences of not using apps safely with facts and technical details. Mind you, without fear and caution in our lives we would all die…sounds dramatic, but fear keeps us safe. Balance is key

  • Declan Mckibben

    hi. myself and my wife are evaluating this for our 10 year old as a lot of her network are mad about it. on the face of it it’s a really great app for kids to mess about, have fun, and so on but unsurprisingly it appears to me to be full of sexual content, grooming, solicitation of sexual images and other content, probably cyber blackmail and probably pedo grooming. a simple search for friends with the search string “lesbian” reveals a lot of user accounts, parse through these and you see explicit sexual images in the thumbnail, click into a profile and there is explcit profile text (eg. will share nudes, girls only, I want sex, I’m 12 and so on and invitations to Direct Message or connect on other platforms like snapchat or instagram or kik… also lots of encouragement to post and delete content, thereby making parental oversight more difficult. lastly, there are lots of easy to find explicit sexual video content. we havent finially decided yet on whether to allow this app for our child… we could manage it but it’s going to take a lot of regular scrutiny to keep it safe AND my child’s use of the app will help other kids coerce their parents into permitting it. I’m technical and know this domain… I cannot imagine anyone non technical being able to keep this platform safe for kids.

    • Thanks for your comment Declan, one question I always ask parents who, like you, learn that an app is dangerous for younger kids, is that with all that you now know about the app, that it cannot be filtered for adult content, it has dangers around exposure and contact from strangers, it is rated for 13+ (meaning that you have no recourse legally from the developers due to allowing an underage child to use it) is this. “Why would you allow your child to use it?” If it is despite all the dangers I will allow it because they want it, and their cohort are using it, then what will you do when other issues come up in your child’s future about allowing dangerous behaviour due to peer group pressure. If you don’t allow peer group pressure to inform your decisions over safety in most other parenting issues, take the same approach with technology. Set a standard for yourself and your child early. The moment your child has a bad experience on an adult app you will blame yourself for not trusting your first instinct which was to protect your child. How resilient and world wise is your 10 year old? Because you will be exposing them to the adult world through this app. It doesn’t matter how tech savvy you are, there is no way you can prevent your child from viewing adult content on this app, the songs are rated explicit anyway. This app was designed for adults. I think you have your answer in your detailed review of this app, well done btw I wish all parents were as vigilant. One last thing, your comment about your influence also on your child’s cohort by allowing it, is spot on! Cyber Safety takes a community. If all parents allow a dangerous app, someone will feel left out if their parents see sense and disallow it. Some schools I work in, decide after my talk that they will take a more community approach to cyber safety and resolve to find safer apps for their children to play with, that don’t leave kids out. Good luck with your choices 🙂

      • Declan Mckibben

        Thanks for your reply; I came to the same conclusion having discussed further with my wife and sounded out some peers via FB.

        This is a great post you’ve made and the issues coming to the fore are really interesting… what is community, where does it exist, who forms and influences it, where’s the governance? I think a lot of parents and guardian don’t really know how to navigate this world, either uninformed or don’t prioritise the time to get informed; the consequence being that the defer the moderation and activation of these platforms to (crazily) the children!

        There’s a tension here too between on the one hand wanting to train, develop and arm your kids with the digital skills, capacity to scrutinise and judgement to exist, digitally in a largely unregulated internet WHILE protecting them from harsh, distasteful or worse content or behaviours. It’s somewhat like our fear nowadays to let our younger kids go to school unattended or needing to program manage their play time with friends.

        The other issue raised and indeed an opportunity for entrepreneurs, is to make safe spaces where kids can interact and to prioritise those aspects of digital interaction and communities for kids. If google can endeavour to help by having a youtube for kids or a safe search feature then why can’t someone make a walled-garden version of music.ly, with access restricted to private accounts and networks which have been vetted (and there are lots of ways to achieve pre-publish moderation like this or to licence content producers who want to reach this audience.

        thanks again for this post. I’ll be sure to share.

        • Thank you for your further points, we are certainly both on the same page here. You are correct many parents don’t give enough time to understand digital technology and how their children use it. Many base the safety of apps and the internet on their own experience which is entirely unreliable. Many parents also feel that they already know enough to handle it, or simply don’t want to hear talks like mine because they fear what they will hear, and honestly don’t want to have to confront issues at home and upset apple carts.

          I understand what you say about safe environments for kids to play together. The problem is that many of the existing environments where kids play online like Minecraft for e.g. have to be adjusted to to be safer for kids, they are not custom designed for children, and often it is left up to the children or the parents to make those adjustments without guidance. Club Penguin is an exception. I do know some companies who have designed apps including social media style apps for children but they never get popular because they don’t have the financing behind them to market them, and the bottom line is that younger children are influenced by what their older siblings and parents are using and want to be in a more adult space a lot of the time, or just use what they are using. It’s not “cool” to use a child friendly app.

          Any online space where children can connect has a danger of being infiltrated by preditorial adults. How do you keep them out? Many designers and developers simply won’t design for children because of the huge responsibility it would be, to make a safe space for kids. This is why I believe manufactures also won’t make a “Child Safe” digital communication device. Apple require adults to set up the safety settings for their iPods/iPads and phones to make them more child friendly, but don’t issue any instructions on how to do so. I don’t see a day where they will ever design an “out of the box” device for a child. It’s a legal and safety minefield also needing to comply with COPPA.

          As far as safe online spaces for kids, in most cases I simply suggest that parents wait, until their child can tell the difference between a disguised predator and a real friend online, and can have the courage to tell an adult when they are threatened online in a really scary way.

          There are many adult pursuits our children may want to participate in but have to wait until they are mature enough to navigate. Maybe the online social world is one of them. Messaging is often the first thing kids use to socialise online, and although child friendly messaging apps have been developed, again they are not widely used because it’s easier to use an app that everyone uses. But none of the adult messaging apps are set up with default settings set to most private. Apple’s Messages is the closest, but there is still an opt in privacy setting on that one also. You can share a Skype account in real time which is fabulous and it is by far my best choice, but….parents need to set up the privacy settings on it, and most don’t 🙁

          I haven’t looked at Musical.ly for a month or so, and on taking another look it’s really turning into more of an instagram style account with Musers using it to promote things and showcase themselves. There’s girls using this app for simply showing off various outfits to music with huge amounts of followers, probably getting sponsorship for doing so. They are not even bothering to lipSync at all. Maybe get your daughter a REAL Karaoke machine!

          Community is the families of the friends that your child is socialising with online. It has to start there. Get all families in your community educated, even if we know that they will still have very different values and ideas. Set community standards. How to get them educated? Humans have a tendency to put off anything they feel is unnecessary or confronting, so getting them educated is always going to be hard.

          Great discussion 🙂

  • Katherine Grossfeld

    I use musical.ly for fun comedic videos when I am bored. I have a few “famous” friends who are big on musical.ly and when they do Livelys, I have noticed that little kids whose profiles have videos of 10 year olds are sending gifts in the thousand dollar range. I have to wonder what’s going on at home. As far as I can tell there is no way to obtain free gifts to send on the app which means the gifts they are sending are expensive. This one girl the other night sent 12 DABRIELS. These are gifts worth 5000 points on musically. But the points are free and you’re not able to earn them. So one DABRIEL is worth $50 which means she sent $600 worth in one session and the same girl sent a bunch in another as well. I want to know how easy it is for kids to use the app to send gifts. It just seems unlikely this ten year old has $1200 sitting around somewhere. I’ve also seen Livelys of girls in the 12-16 range posting excessively provocative videos on this app and tons of grown men commenting how attractive they are and this is similar to what I’ve seen on Instagram. I think a lot of these apps are dangerous and I’m not sure I’d let my kid use them one day.

    • The accounts might be real child accounts but they could also be fake accounts with adults behind them. Hard to know I guess. The Lively app is very worrisome. Thanks for your comment though it helps me to continue to evaluate this app. The more I hear about it the more convinced I am that there are some real problems with having younger users on it.

  • cantsay

    Hi i have an account on musical.ly and i don’t believe there is any thing sexual in it or well i haven’t seen anything like it. 1 thing i would like to change about it is to be able to delete you account as mine has currently been hacked an they are posting horrible stuff on it e.g they deleted some of my videos and posted a new one all black but in the description they wrote ‘like if u want to f**k’. Personally i hate this kind of language and still my mum doesn’t believe its been hacked, she thinks its me who is going it.

    what do i do in this situation, how can i stop them before they do anything worst.

    Written by a 13 year old

    • Thanks for your question cantsay. I know Musical.ly are trying to clean up content when reported, but there is of course swearing in some songs available on the app, and some videos featuring sexual content. Musical.ly doesn’t allow profiles to be deleted as yet, but I found this in their help section on their website. “How can I delete my account? We are in the process of adding a feature that allows users to delete their accounts. Please stay tuned and continue to check upcoming versions of the app for this feature. Take note: you’ll need to remember your username and password to log in to your account and delete it!” I suggest you report your account as being hacked at this link. https://musically.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

      • cantsay

        thank you very much!! this will help so much!!

  • Temblor

    3 men including this one were watching our 11 year old daughter put on make up and asking her to take off her clothes to get rewards hearts and bonus “points” if she had a boyfriend and one even invited her to come to NY.
    The kids crave as many points as they can get. These are 18 years old apps. They are dangerous teaching girls how to get recognition points for undressing. Sad days when many parents will never even know or look into it, use the apps as a babysitter or buckle under the pressure of Bully kids syndrome an being labeled as a bad parent based upon what other 9-11 year old say oh its “just fun”

    • Templor that is shocking but not surprising. Anywhere young people are online on an open platform there will be predators. The reason I posted this review is to explain to parents what this app does, and how it works. So many parents I meet tell me they didn’t know that Musical.ly was online…let alone that strangers could see their child’s video and talk to them without the privacy settings on. I think probably a lot of children using this app, may not really understand this also, which is why I’ve seen a 4 year old using it. Many parents simply trust that apps on iTunes or Google play are safe, they see the pretty child like colours and simply have no idea how apps work or what social media or online games are. These parents have slipped through the digital cracks, and don’t realise that they need to really check out all apps before allowing kids to use them. If they then allow their child to use an online app after reading reviews that point out the dangers, then yes their child risks being approached by predators and being groomed at worst or bullied by other kids at best. Parents often turn a “blind eye” to these risks because it’s easier than a fight about the app, or they trust all their friends who let their kids use these apps who are also either turning a “blind eye” or clueless. Some parents have a quick look themselves at an app and judge it by what they see in about 5 mins. Your comment just underlines all the dangers and points out a common theme I have seen on all the apps where kids can video live stream online, and there are many similar apps out there. Thankyou

  • Anne Chastain

    Hi, is there a safer app for younger children, 9-10, who like to lip sync & playact age-appropriately?

  • Sam

    Hi Leonie, if I allow my daughter to use this I will change all the settings to private to just allow her and her friends to send them to each other. Is there a way to stop her friends sending her video to others or making it available to anyone if they don’t have the privacy settings on?
    Thanks
    Sam

    • Hi Sam, technically as long as she has the privacy settings enabled her followers should not be able to share the video across to other social media.

    • Samantha Davidson

      If u turn her account on private, her friends won’t be able to share her musical.lys and/or send them to anyone

      • Liliana San

        Hi I have my daughters account on private but her videos are still able to be shared by her friends is there son that I’m missing?

        • They may be able to still share them on social media yes. The private setting may just prevent other Musers from seeing them on Musical.ly Not ideal I know.

    • Samantha is correct. However there may be some issues with the privacy settings. As Shannon has pointed out on this post.

  • Shannon

    I have a question, my daughter’s account settings are all set to private like you showed but I noticed she has private videos and then others that I’m guessing are public???? A few had some weird comments from the same person. She’s is only friends with 3 people and again her settings are all on like you showed. So, even though the settings are on can your videos still be seen and commented on publicly?

    • Make sure she isn’t using Lively no privacy settings on Lively which is Musical.ly’s live streaming app.

    • Alyssa

      Hi Shannon, she can still let strangers watch her musical.ly’s the strangers have to ask.

      • If she has privacy settings enabled she won’t be getting messengers from strangers asking unless thats broken

    • Claudia Lewis

      That’s odd my daughter did not say that to me

  • Joanne Wake

    Hi I think you should all be aware, my daughters dad has checked fans & omg they r all the same picture but different names, please keep your children safe, check there fans.