Par­ents’ guide to ul­tra-addictive app

Kapi-Mana News - - ANZAC DAY - BRETT MOLINA

Ever seen your kids lip­sync in front of their smart­phone? It’s a good chance they’re on Mu­si­cal.ly.

The so­cial net­work lets users cre­ate their own videos – of­ten to mu­sic – and share them on their pro­file.

Hav­ing tried Mu­si­cal.ly briefly, I came away with two thoughts. First, I’m very old. Sec­ond, I still get why kids and teens love this.

Videos are easy to make, but if you put time into it, you can cre­ate re­ally clever clips.

It re­minds me of Vine – you could eas­ily pull to­gether smart videos in only six sec­onds.

Only with Mu­si­cal.ly, there are more tools. Plus, it’s a chance to be­come a star, whether it’s on a stage with just close fam­ily and friends, or some­thing big­ger.

But there’s also the so­cial net­work­ing as­pect of it.

In the­ory, it can be locked down into a pri­vate net­work. That re­quires dili­gence on the part of the par­ent.

There also have been some re­cent re­ports about strangers send­ing kids sug­ges­tive mes­sages, rais­ing con­cerns about safety. (Mu­si­cal.ly dis­cour­ages any­one un­der 13 from hav­ing an ac­count).

All that said, it’s su­per pop­u­lar. Don’t know what Mu­si­cal.ly is? Not sure why your kid is so crazy about it?

Here’s what you need to know:

WHAT IS MU­SI­CAL.LY?

Its cre­ators de­scribe it as the ‘‘world’s largest cre­ative plat­form’’, where users cre­ate videos on ei­ther an iOS or An­droid de­vice us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of mu­sic, spe­cial ef­fects like time lapses, and fil­ters to share with oth­ers.

Videos are posted to dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, such as com­edy, tal­ent, sports, and style.

Your pro­file is where you view your per­sonal Mu­si­cal.ly videos, plus there’s a dis­cover sec­tion to view videos by cat­e­gory, trend­ing tag, or song choice. There’s also a leader­board high­light­ing the top ‘‘musers’’.

HOW POP­U­LAR IS IT?

The app claims more than 100 mil­lion users, ac­cord­ing to the app’s About page on Tum­blr. Mu­si­cal.ly says since launch­ing in 2014, it has reached the top spot on Ap­ple’s App Store in 20 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US.

WHY IS IT SO POP­U­LAR?

In most cases, it lets users cre­ate and star in their own per­sonal mu­sic videos.

TEENS’ EX­PE­RI­ENCE

A few times a week, 11-year-old Leila Ad­nane per­forms for a world­wide au­di­ence, lip-sync­ing to pop hits while per­form­ing in­tri­cate chore­og­ra­phy in some­times elab­o­rate makeup.

Leila says it’s a way to showcase their cre­ativ­ity and bond with friends over a shared pas­sion.

‘‘I like that you can do any mu­sic in the world, and that you can (ma­nip­u­late) it and do dif­fer­ent kinds of things,’’ she said. ‘‘I think that’s re­ally cool.’’

But some par­ents have grown wary of the app. They say it en­cour­ages an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with pop­u­lar­ity, al­lows chil­dren to en­gage with ob­jec­tion­able con­tent and puts them at risk of ex­ploita­tion.

‘‘It turned into this mon­ster,’’ said Kim We­ber, who had to have a sit-down with other mums af­ter her 8-year-old daugh­ter and her friends used the app to snipe at each other.

‘‘It’s sup­posed to be a fun thing, but just like any other so­cial me­dia, it took a neg­a­tive turn.’’

For many users – or ‘‘musers’’, in the app’s par­lance – Mu­si­cal.ly is a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. Natalie Leone, whose 10-year-old daugh­ter Si­cily is a de­voted muser, said it re­minds her of how she en­ter­tained her­self as a child.

‘‘I re­mem­ber star­ing in the mir­ror and danc­ing and singing to my­self,’’ she said.

‘‘I see (Mu­si­cal.ly) as a hand­held mir­ror.’’

SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT MY KIDS US­ING IT?

Re­cent re­ports have sur­faced of alarmed par­ents dis­cov­er­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent sent by strangers to their kids.

One re­port de­tails the ac­count of a mother in Aus­tralia who learned her 8-year-old daugh­ter re­ceived mes­sages from some­one pre­tend­ing to be Justin Bieber.

Like many so­cial me­dia apps, Mu­si­cal.ly pro­files are pub­lic by de­fault, which can open up users to in­ap­pro­pri­ate mes­sages.

In a sec­tion for par­ents, Mu­si­cal.ly dis­cour­ages any users un­der 13 from cre­at­ing an ac­count, and of­fers re­sources on in­ter­net pri­vacy and cy­ber­bul­ly­ing.

HOW CAN I PRO­TECT THEM?

One key op­tion Mu­si­cal.ly of­fers is set­ting your ac­counts to pri­vate. This lets users screen who wants to fol­low them and ei­ther ac­cept or de­cline. It also pre­vents any­one from di­rectly send­ing mes­sages un­less you have ap­proved them as fans (Mu­si­cal.ly’s ver­sion of fol­low­ers).

If your pro­file is pub­lic, you can still opt to only al­low friends to send mes­sages.

– TNS

Teenagers love the ul­tra-addictive lip-sync­ing app Mu­si­cal.ly.

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