My tween recently downloaded the Vine app. What is it, and should I let him post videos?
Like its slightly more static friend, Instagram, Vine is a mobile application that allows users to make and share short six-second looping videos. With all the enticing characteristics of social media, users create an account and post videos to share, view those posted by other users, follow and add comments to their favorite Vine videos. Vine is available for smart phones and mobile tablets and is free.
You can find thousands of silly, funny, provocative, random, and just plain dumb shorts created by teens and tweens. You get the sense that many are experimenting, imitating what they’ve seen on television. Needless to say, the app has become wildly popular with this younger crowd — a group already addicted to watching videos on YouTube, tweeting thoughts on Twitter, and sharing photo snippets of their life on Instagram. (Adults are also mercifully absent from Vine, always a plus in kids eyes.) Incidently, Vine is owned by Twitter, so videos can be viewed directly on Twitter’s timeline.
However, you should know that Vine is not for kids.
While Vine does not publish an age requirement on its FAQ page (available on Twitter’s website, though you’ll have to dig to find it), the iTunes app store gives it a 17+ rating due to content containing profanity, suggestive themes, sexual content, nudity, and violence. When the app is downloaded, a pop-up appears asking for confirmation that users downloading the app are age 17 or older; however, there is no verification. A simple tap of the “yes” button downloads the app to your mobile device.
Talk to your older teens about sexual content on Vine and other websites they access. With kids and teens being readily exposed to such images, it becomes desensitizing and makes the idea of posting such provocative acts themselves less shocking because other anonymous teens are doing it.
Vine users should be aware that posts are public by default. Creators of Vine videos can limit their followers to approved friends, but anyone who has access to your Vine account can copy and share the URL address of your Vine videos. And if a post is shared on Facebook or Twitter, the URL is revealed, allowing anyone who sees that URL to view the Vine video.
To get a feel for Vine video posts, visit Vpeeker.com, which shows a live stream of content, or download the app for free and see for yourself.