Parents, This Mom Found Much “Worse Than Porn” on Musical.ly

musical.ly app

musical.ly app
Musical.ly app screenshot captured by Anastasia Basil

Months ago I reported the dangers of the app Musical.ly (Musically app, get it?) to my readers here. The app, while supposedly just to make fun lip dubs, has many dangerous features such as anonymity and chat with strangers. Predators love it, because parents think it’s fun and safe. Sadly, it’s not: not even close, and should not be used by children. Why? Well, LIVE STREAMING for one. On Musical.ly, you can live stream yourself in any state of undress, and people do. Home made porn abounds.

advanced-ads-inline

But one mom, Anastasia Basil, recently found what she says is “worse than porn” on Musical.ly, and she wrote a now-viral article on Medium to warn parents about it. Basil was on Musical.ly because her daughter was begging to be allowed to use the app, so Basil went to investigate (KUDOS to you, Mama. I wish more parents would take a page from your book. Or one of the many articles I’ve written urging them to do just that!)

What Basil found as she jumped down the Musical.ly rabbit hole is beyond horrifying. And though I am going to summarize it for you here, I’m also going to BEG you to read her entire article. Her writing is raw and emotional; her horror and the trauma of what she has seen seep through the black and white words. Basil has taken one for the TEAM here, and the TEAM is all of us parents. So, do her a solid and read her words. We all owe her a debt of gratitude.

Here is what she found.

She found live stream porn on Musical.ly.

Basil says:

Become A Contributor

“Musical.ly looks innocent — just kids making music videos, and it is that, but more so it’s this: user uploaded content by millions of people who can also live stream, which is how I first encountered porn on Musical.ly. A very helpful naked man live-streamed his live stream (if you know what I mean.)”

She found children as young as eight sexually objectifying themselves on Musical.ly.

“The worst thing is watching little kids (as young as eight) sexually objectify themselves. The kids who get it right (the tweeny Kardashians) gain followers. The kids who get it wrong — those not “sexy” enough, funny enough, pop-culturey enough — are openly ridiculed in the comment section….My heart hurts not only for the exploited children, but for all kids who scroll Musical.ly (or YouTube) and see this kind of ugly play out.”

Basil also writes chillingly of the secret hashtag language kids use on Musical.ly: to get past the app’s filters, kids use hashtags like #thot, which stands for That Ho Over There, or #fgirl, #hottie, #sxy, #whooty or #sin. You can search the hashtags as Basil did and see how sexual and inappropriate the content is, but she warns, don’t think for a minute you have all the info. The hashtags change often to keep the app’s filters and monitors from keeping up. What you will see is shocking: “I saw a boy around the age of 9, maybe 10, create a user name that was so sexually graphic I had a hard time processing what I was seeing. A little boy. Not a teenager. A boy,” Basis recounts of her hashtag search.

She found people self-harming on Musical.ly.

“There are #selfharm videos that show suicide options — bathtubs filling, images of blades, a child’s voice saying she doesn’t want to live any more. I saw a boy with a bleeding chest (yes, real blood.) I saw a young girl whose thighs were so cut up I had to take a break from writing this article. A long break. The images are deeply upsetting.”

In addition to cutting, there are lots of hashtags and positivity around eating disorders on Musical.ly. Basil found the screen shot above, of a disturbingly thin girl, as an example. Hashtags like #proana for “pro anorexia” are used to encouraged anorexics to stick together and encourage each other in their goal of not eating.

Perhaps most tragically, she found little kids trying to save “slightly older” kids who depicted  harming themselves on Musical.ly.

“Their effort might seem beautiful, hopeful even, but it isn’t. A child stepping into the darkness of another child is not beautiful, it’s wrong. I saw this comment beneath a #suicide video: ‘u r beautiful plz dont kill urself im only 10 but i will b ur friend.’”

Parents, our little children maybe just want to get on Musical.ly to have fun — but if fun leads to them seeing horrific things like death wishes and self harm played out, the “fun” is NOT worth the risk. Our kids don’t need the EMOTIONAL BURDEN of trying to save a fellow child from suicide or self-harm. Our 10-year-olds shouldn’t even know that self harm IS A THING. As Basil so perfectly puts it, “Kids should be watching witty cartoons, riding bikes, making slime, doing art, playing Minecraft, learning chess and boring us with bad magic tricks. They shouldn’t be stopping other kids from killing themselves.”

Moms and dads, I will beg you again to read Basil’s entire article. And I will beg you for the millionth time to NOT let your little kids have social media of ANY kind, but especially not one like Musical.ly that is a treasure trove of the WORST the Internet has to offer. Musical.ly, and other apps like it (Snapchat, even Instagram, Kik) have NO “parental controls” — even if you make your kid’s account private, they can still easily see ALL THE AWFUL THINGS. And the AWFUL things are posted at such a fast and furious rate, that there is no app’s filters that are capable of keeping up (you can verify this yourself with just six clicks to Instaporn on Instagram.)

So please, parents: JUST SAY NO to social media for your little kids. If they don’t have a phone yet but use a tablet, DISABLE THE INTERNET BROWSER (Safari, Chrome, Firefox). If they do have a smartphone, disable the browser and CHECK THOSE APPS AND MESSAGES LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB. Because?? IT IS YOUR JOB.

Does your kids really need a phone? So does mine. It’s a flip phone. And I read his text messages. But he can’t get the internet or any apps, which does a ton to protect him, his eyes, his heart, his development, and his mental health.

Parents, this is ON US. We are the first generation figuring it out, and we have GOT to do better. Please take a page from Basil’s book.  Be brave enough to go down that rabbit hole and see for yourself what you might be willing to expose your kids to in a moment of weakness if you say “yes” to social media.

Allow yourself to see the dangers, so your children will not. We CAN protect our kids, if we’re willing to DO THE WORK and HAVE THE CONVERSATIONS with them about what they might see and hear in the murky underworld of social media.

***

Read this next: Not Just SnapChat: 6 Dangerous Apps All Parents Need to Know About

 

 

 


Previous articleWe’re Parenting Upside Down— and It Isn’t Pretty
Next articleMom Warns Parents After Son’s Scare: Don’t Let Your Kids Use a Public Restroom Alone
Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and the editor of For Every Mom. You can email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter.