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Are your kids using the Musical.ly app?

By Liz Stanton, Get Safe Online Internet Safety Advisor specialising in safeguarding young people on 07 Feb, 2018

Just watching YouTube and looking at the thousands of uploads made me realise once again that we do need to remember that as with most things relating to online usage – it’s not the apps/sites that are the problem but the lack of understanding about where and what it potentially could lead to. 

Parents/guardians, carers and professionals alike must educate the children in their care that they must learn how to use the sites responsibly themselves, and be aware of the dangers that run alongside. They must also fully understand who they can turn to when they need help and guidance. 

This is why we must all do our bit to support parents and carers in taking an interest and responsibility in what their children are doing online. Here’s a case in point:

Musical.ly is a social networking app created for messaging and live broadcasting. Users can create 15-second to 1 minute videos and choose sound tracks to accompany (adding different effects) and also browse popular "musers," content, trending songs and sounds and hashtags. This all sounds like great fun and a way to meet new friends, but unfortunately, Musical-ly has always been of interest to those who would exploit children, well aware that the main users are 8-12-year olds.

As a parent, ask yourself: “Would I record and upload my child lip-syncing and doing all the same sexual moves whilst they watch their favourite song?” Surely, the answer would be NO. Then why do so many of the clips show both boys and girls following these very suggestive moves and singing along using all the same strong language? Many will also try and dress in the same suggestive way as their favourite singer.  

We must remember that if we are to allow our children to use these or any other sites that allow them to livestream, then it is our responsibility as a parent or guardian to educate them about the dangers. It’s also essential to build a trusting relationship so that if they ever do face a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable, they will turn to us (or someone they and we trust) for help, instead of thinking they will get in trouble or their accounts taken from them. Let our children be children online, but under the watchful eye of their parents/guardians.

The good news is that Musical.ly are very co-operative and will work to remove any inappropriate uploads. For further information and guidance visit https://www.net-aware.org.uk