Tech & Media
Should You Let Your Kids Join Musical.ly?
By Laura Mullin
Photography by Yupa Watchanakit © 123RF.com
Jan 31, 2017
It’s a question I should have pondered more when my daughter asked if she could download this awesome new music app all her friends were using. I answered, using my usual rigorous media-vetting criteria, by looking up from my device and asking, “Is it free?” And so it began my unintentional journey down the social media rabbit hole.
For those of you not in the know, Musical.ly is a popular music video app that has taken the 10 and under set by storm. It is also a gateway to social media for young kids and the source of much drama in my home.
Here’s how it works: Kids select snippets of popular songs and record themselves singing, lip-syncing or dancing. Some kids skip the music and perform 15-second comedy skits. Once they finish recording, kids can add effects/filters and share them on Musical.ly as well as other social platforms.
Should you give Musical.ly the thumbs up in your home? Here are some of the pros and cons I have learned:
• This app is a cool creative tool for young people to think outside the box using music and comedy. I always stay clear of my daughter when she’s creating with Musical.ly. She orders me to be “quiet on the set” as she drags out a pile of wigs, my clothes and a chorus line of stuffies.
• By design, the app gets kids off their butts and engaging with technology in a more active and less passive way than most other computer activities.
• It gets them actively developing the digital media skills becoming more essential with each passing day.
• It encourages collaborative creativity as kids can produce duets remotely with other users.
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• Some of the content is not appropriate for children. You will have to monitor material that they are engaging with — unless you are ok with your kids twerking to Nicki Minaj.
• Musical.ly is a social media platform, and I have to say this is my least favourite aspect of the app. Kids are way too inexperienced and impressionable to be participating in sharing online. Consider setting your child’s account to private.
• Even private accounts have followers and allow comments. Musical.ly suggests positive-only comments, but we all know trolls can pop up anywhere.
• Don’t be fooled by hearing, “But everyone is using it!” Few of the other parents I’ve talked to are fully aware of what this app is all about.
The upshot? I have to admit, I’ve been a little complacent in the family media department and was taken aback that this app isn’t the usual hair salon, voice changer, or fart-sound maker I had grown so comfortable with. On the other hand, the videos my daughter has produced are really fun and creative. So for now, I'm going to let the tunes play. Heck, I might make a video myself.