In this episode of Digital Parenting Live, we’ll answer a viewer’s question on whether it is ok to install Musical.ly on her child’s phone.
Hey guys. Welcome to another episode of Digital Parenting Live. It is April 5th, and we’re yet again taking questions from you guys and giving you answers, answers on how you can be a better digital parent. So we had a question that actually came in from a Digital Parenting viewer today, and so let’s go ahead and let’s dive in and look at this. And I wanna give you just a little bit of prep for this. We’re talking today about apps, and again, I know a lot of times people can get hung up on this specific app and this specific danger. I think this is just one piece of being a better digital parent. You can’t focus in on just one thing, and that’s one of the things that makes it so hard. But let’s take a look at the question for today.
So the question is this. My daughter really wants to have me install musical.ly on her phone. Now, this is a very popular app, if you’re not familiar with this. Now, I plan to only connect her to people we know in real life. Is there a danger in doing this?
So, a couple things I want to talk about here. First, it sounds like this parent has locked down a phone so that their child can’t install whatever they want. Now, that’s a good thing. Now, answering the question of whether or not your child, at that specific age, is ready for a phone or should have a phone, again, we don’t know the age of the child here. I tend to lean on the side if there’s any doubt in your mind, then they shouldn’t have a phone. I don’t think that, unless for very specific circumstances, there’s as much of a need there sometimes as we as parents think that there is. But in this case, it’s great that they’ve locked the phone down, so this child can’t install whatever she wants on the phone.
But let’s talk a little bit about musical.ly. So musical.ly is an app that allows people to come together. They actually can create collaborative musical experiences through this, and that sounds great, but the problem is, is that like most apps that have a social networking component, there is the ability for you to run into people that you wouldn’t want your kids to run into. There’s the ability for people to contact you directly. And I think one of the things as parents is that we have to ask the question, “Are we gonna let somebody else have unrestricted access to our child without our supervision?” And the truth is, is for any of these apps, whether it be social networks like Facebook or Snapchat or musical.ly, which is a social network but has other components to it as well, their benefit, like the reason they create those products, is not because of parental controls, right? They don’t create it so that you can be a better parent. They create it so that they can have more monthly active users, and their company can then be valued for more.
So at some point, we have to just ask ourselves, “Is it worth the risk of my child encountering somebody who either wants to do them harm or expose them to something that I wouldn’t want to have them be exposed to at their age?” And I think for most parents, the answer to that’s gonna be no.
And there’s some great articles that have come out just within the last month on musical.ly and some of the dangers. A parent went on to musical.ly just for a day and tried to understand a little bit more about this before she let her child install it, and she saw all sorts of things that were way beyond what she expected. And so there’ve been reports of porn. You know, people that are running across, people that are trying to expose their kids to pornographic material. There have been reports of obviously even bullying through the app. There’s a lot of things that are involved here, so I just encourage you, as a parent, do the research. Don’t feel like you have to install an app just because all of your kids’ friends have a specific app. Understand what you’re getting into. You need to, as a parent, understand the risks and then make the decision that’s best for your child.
And again, one of the things I do want to call out here is your child shouldn’t have the ability to install any app they want on their phone. If they’re living at home, you need to be able to have some level of control over that. We have some great tutorials that exist on the digitalparenting.com site that actually help you, whether you have iOS or android, on how to actually add those customizations in, and we’ll include some of those notes actually in the show notes.
But just a quick reminder, if you have questions, be sure to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s where we’ll actually take your questions and we’ll actually cover them here on the show once we get them. So please, keep those coming in. We’ve had some great questions so far, and we want to have a lot more. So again, thanks for joining us today on the Digital Parenting Minute.