Musical.ly: My (Less Than) 24 Hours of Parenting Hell
Musical.ly: My (Less Than) 24 Hours of Parenting Hell
January 15, 2017
We interrupt our political commentary to bring you the following. We love to discuss politics and culture but sometimes, we need to hone in on our culture. This is one of those times.
There’s this craze that’s going on with the pre-teen set that involves dance routines and lip synching-to rap music. To some parents and kids, it is an innocent creative outlet known as Musical.ly. I was one of those parents who made the mistake of thinking this.
For 24 hours.
The “pressures” are real for these kids, especially when the “cool kids” at school have Musical.ly accounts and lots of “likes” and followers. In my 11 year-old’s world, everyone else who does not have one (including himself) is not worthy of being in the “cool” group. He himself has felt shunned and ignored because he does not cuss nor does he “date” and is not on a stupid social media site making like he’s a 20-something year-old gangster. Yep. He’s the “weirdo-loser”. Makes perfect sense in the world of 11 year-old boys, right?
So, I caved in to the pressure, took a trip to the dark side and set up Musical.ly on my phone for our son yesterday afternoon. He’s likes old school hip-hop and is a pretty darn good breakdancer so, as a mom, I wanted to be able to afford him the opportunity to showcase his talent. REAL talent, mind you…not lip synching to JuJu On That Beat 27 different ways kind of “talent”. He posted a few vids and then went over to a friend’s house, proud and excited about his new Musical.ly account. His friend’s mom, a dear friend of mine, picked up pizza, and the boys were going to watch Middle School.
But some of these Musical.ly-obsessed kiddos thought it would be fun to do a few videos before they settled down to watch the movie. After being pushed out of the way on one of the posted videos and told he “ruined” the other, my son was ticked off beyond belief and called me because he was ready to go home. A “ruined” lip-sync, apparently, is the kiss of death in the oh-so-popular Musical.ly world, I guess. It may impact your “likes” by total strangers. And, one can’t be a social outcast after all or seen with one. After chatting with my friend, and telling my son to buck-up, grow a thicker skin, to not run away from problems with his tail between his legs but stand up for himself, he decided to stay at the party. His friend was glad to see him stay. I came over and visited with his mom and watched from afar the happenings (whilst making like I wasn’t). One ten year-old boy, whose screen name includes “WTF” in its title, (one hell of a parenting job done there, I’d say) continued to post on Musical.ly. The rest of them were getting along great and watching the movie in the midst of an occasional wrestling match.
That is when his friend got the phone call from the kid who saw them all on Musical.ly. This kid, a bit of a troublemaker and bully since Kindergarten, was not invited to the impromptu movie night.
All of the kids (except my son and another boy who are not fans of this young man) started talking to him. This boy was asking why he wasn’t invited and BOOM–there it was-he asked why that “bunny ass (insert my son’s name here)” was there!
My son’s friend said “OOOOOKAY” and immediately hung up on him which made me happy to see but it took all I could to not go full-on Jersey on this little punk. I knew it was time to check my Mama Bear at the door as it was bad enough that I was present at his “guys night” but hey, I am entitled to visit my friend and I was there in that “official” capacity. The kid called back and said he was just upset because “his mom didn’t take him to Menchie’s”. Boo-hoo and B.S. Snowflake in the making, much?
After parting ways, I decided to go home and do some homework that I should have done on the front end of the Musical.ly fiasco. This is what I found:
Some Parental Controls – Similar to Instagram, users can set their profile to “private” in the settings, which allows them to approve those people he/she allows to see their created videos. The three settings circled in red in the image should be toggled on. There is also a block list and “musers” can report inappropriate profiles to Musical.ly (although we’re not sure how reliable Musical.ly is at taking action).
Porn Can be Found – Like other social media, Musical.ly allows users to upload their own content. Because of this, the nature of the content always eventually gives way to an abundance of pornographic material (just like with Vine, Twitter, and Instagram).
Too Many Youngsters – But, there’s a disturbing nature to this trend that is unique to Musical.ly. Due to the young age of users (upper elementary school and early middle school), younger and younger kids are at risk being exposed to inappropriate content and as a result, younger and younger kids seem to be actively participating in creating it. This means predators are lurking.-Protect Young Eyes
While Musical.ly has stated they are making attempts to block inappropriate content before reaching the eyes of youngsters, after seeing what I saw, it was not good enough for me. I did not come across any of the porn that apparently is quite accessible on the website by the simple typing up of a hashtag but I’ve watched some videos of kids my son knows. I saw the very pretty young girl in his class who all of the boys are crushing on (my son included but he won’t dare admit it) with 1000-plus “followers” that I doubt she knows all personally. There were kids (10 and 11 years-old) putting up “single” or “taken” status updates. I was also surprised to see how many of their accounts were public for anyone and everyone to see. I saw kids lip-synching to songs that drop the f-bomb (not the least bit cute). And while I’m sure this kid’s dad thinks he’s a little stud, a 10 year-old boy lip synching to a song with the lyrics that sing about “pulling the sheets right off that corner” (complete with turning down the sheets and patting the bed down actions) is hardly charming. All of this and lots of routines that include the words “you’re ugly”, a routine that spoofs the Annie Get Your Gun “Anything You Can Do” (I can do better) song and one rap lip-synch that ended in “You look like sh-t” was enough for me to hit the DELETE button on the phone and never look back.
Parents, beware. Take my parenting fail to heart. Musical.ly can be a source of fun and entertainment for these kids. Yes, there are songs with clean lyrics, there are ways for kids to show off their genuine talents…but at what cost? Go ahead and Google videos of some of these kids’ routines. They’re out there in cyberspace for everyone to see and they will shock you, trust me. Heck, and be real with your kids and show these videos to them and tell them why it is wrong to behave this way. Pass it on to your kids, grand kids, nieces and nephews and other parents you know. From the little I have seen, Musical.ly is just another form of glorifying the very self-absorbed behavior that is so prevalent in some kids of this generation (and, sadly, their parents). It can also be an insidious passive-aggressive cyber bullying platform, it promotes sexual grooming and glorifying (AKA grooming for future) alcohol and drug use and, God forbid, abuse. Coming from a family who had members with addiction struggles, THIS breaks my heart and gave me the impetus to hold firm after my moment of weakening. If we’re going to get anything better out of our next generation, ALL OF THIS cannot be glorified. You say your kid’s got some talent? GREAT. Have him use it in a positive environment like band, chorus, dance, drama or sports and keep their haters (who mask themselves as “fans” and make fun of them when they’re not around) and the creepers out of the loop. Your child’s true friends, if their parents are bringing them up the they should be, will be with him whether he is the next Musical.ly sensation or not. If, however, your daughter is 11 going on 25 with 750 “friends” who are all “girls her age” (and you honestly believe that she is that talented and popular and that none of these 11 year-old “girls” are actually 55 year-old men with sick tendencies) or your son does a mean lip sync of The Chainsmokers, Closer whilst throwing up the middle finger and a few gang signs, and you honestly believe this is the only talent your boy has because you’re THAT oblivious and lazy have them Musical.ly to their little hearts’ content and pat yourself on the back. You’ve got yourself some real “superstars”.
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