I know it’s time to review an app when my daughter asks for it or several parents ask me about it. So looks like that time has come for Vine. Vine is a video creation app where all the videos are 6 seconds or less. The videos or “vines” as they are called play in an endless loop. The videos are shared with other Vine users who you follow and can be shared on Facebook or Twitter.
Think Instagram, but with short videos rather than photos.
Twitter launched the Vine service earlier this year for Apple devices. It was recently made available on Android devices as well. From what I’ve seen, most of the “vines” being created are silly, stupid, inane, or insane. Every now and then you’ll find a video that is artistic and creative, making the most of the “stop-motion” like effect that the video recording and looping helps create.
Is Vine okay for Kids?
As with most social networks, Vine’s terms of service specify that the service is not intended for those under 13 and parents can ask to have a child’s account removed. However there is no age verification when creating an account.
Vine has a 17+ rating in the Apple app store. If you’ve set a child’s iPod/iPad/iPhone to restrict apps by rating, they will not be able to download Vine.
All profiles are public. There are no options for setting your Vine account to a private setting like you can on Instagram. That means that any “vine” you create and share could potentially be seen by anyone else using Vine.
There is an Explore feature where you can randomly peruse user’s videos. And like Twitter, Instagram and other social networks, Vine users tag their videos with hashtags as a way to describe them. A hashstag is a word preceded by a pound sign such as #food. Click the hashtag to discover other videos that use the same hashtag. While the #food hashtag will lead you to short video demos on, say, how to make a smoothie, some hashtags are clearly not intended for the 13 and under crowd. (Ever heard of #nsfw? That means not safe for work, meaning that the user is being warned that that the content may be inappropriate in a work setting.)
As I poked around it didn’t take me long to discover plenty of content inappropriate for children. One video showed someone lighting a pipe…and no I don’t think it was filled with tobacco! Another video showed nudity and rude gestures.
A few of the videos I watched looked like they were recorded in a school setting. Clearly there are teens using the service along with young adults. Similar to Instagram, you’ll see comments such as “follow me and I’ll follow you back”.
There is really no such thing as Private
If you think that only those with the Vine app on their phones can see these videos, think again. Web sites have popped up (not associated with Vine or Twitter) that display all the recent “vines” created in the app – right on the web for anyone to see. If your teen is pleading with you not to take Vine away, have ‘em take a look here. Do they want their video popping up on the web for all – college recruiters, grandma, YOU – to see?
So should I let my kid have a Vine account?
The only benefit I can see is for older teens who are interested in the art of video, animation, and film. Vine would be an attractive option but there are other more educational video-editing apps and sites. Take a look at the Digital Fun for Creative Kids list from Common Sense Media for some suggestions.
And while you’re on the Common the Common Sense site, check out their Vine review, with the summary “It might be the new thriving social media darling, but for now at least, keep young children and teens away.”