A parents guide to Vine

Vine is a social media app that you use on your smartphone. It was  launched by Twitter in January 2013. You can create a 6 second video using your smartphone and when you post your video it will then appear in your friends’ news feed and when they post a  video it will appear in yours.  Users can comment,  “like” a post and “revine” it (Share it with their followers)

 

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Teens take videos of things they see, selfies showing what they are wearing, videos of their pets, videos of their friends messing around.

Many celebrities, sports stars, musicians are now on Vine.  Anyone can follow them and receive their video updates. Tweens and teens would follow celebrities but they would also follow friends to keep in touch with them.
What age is it suitable for?

When signing up for Vine you do not need to enter your age so anyone can sign up for it.

When it launched in the Apps store in January 2013 it was rated suitable for age 12+ but within a few months it had to change it to 17+ given the amount of nudity and porn that was appearing on it.

In this parents’ guide to Vine we will explain why kids like using it, what dangers you need to be aware of and how to advise and protect your child.

 

Why Do Kids like using it?

Tweens and teens  love using it because;

  • The 6 second videos are cool to watch – and make.
  • Kids try to be as creative as possible when making the videos.  It’s a fun and creative way of taking video selfies/videos of friends/what they are eating/what they are wearing/what their pets are doing.
  • All the updates are visual so it’s a great way to express their identities and their “style”.
  • They can follow/’stalk’ their favourite celebrities and get updates on what they are doing.
  • They can comment on their favourite celebrities updates.
  • Most parents don’t understand Vine and are not using it which suits the teenagers.

 

What dangers do parents need to be aware of?

Vine  is a very creative environment for teens but given that they are sharing videos taken on their smartphones there are risks that  you should be aware of as a parent.

  • Young teens being exposed to inappropriate content.
  • Being cyberbullied and victimised by classmates.
  • Other teens posting compromising videos of your child.
  • Your child posting photos or information that could damage their online reputation.

 

1. Young teens being exposed to inappropriate content

Since it launched, Vine has had a very poor reputation for moderating explicit adult content.  It got flooded with porn material within months, so much so that porn material even made its’ way into the “Editor Picks” (recommended videos by the Vine editor).  Since then, Vine has tried to clamp down on explicit material by removing results for searches such as #nudeselfie,  #porn,  #sex etc.

When writing this guide in  July 2014 I have noticed that just in the last month they have made it much harder for users to stumble upon or find this material which is a great improvement.

However, be aware that your  thirteen year old can follow anyone on Vine and if they follow 18-19 year olds, the videos a typical 18-19 year old would share on Vine might be  inappropriate for a 13 year old.

 

2. Being cyberbullied

Cyberbullying on Vine doesn’t mean someone being criticised or put down as a once off event or a very occasional event.  When someone is cyberbullied it means that they are regularly and consistently being criticised or mocked for their looks, weight, intelligence, style, grades, popularity and so on.

On Vine this bullying can take the form of;

  • Taking videos of your child without their knowledge and then posting them with hashtags such as #fat #ugly #loser.
  • A bully could create a fake Vine account pretending to be your child and then post unflattering videos of your child to this account and it looks like your child is posting these videos.
  • A bully sneaks up from behind and slaps your child around the head (“happy slappy” ) while an accomplice videos it.  The video is then posted on Vine to embarrass your child.
  • A bully mimics your child in the video and then posts it out.
  • A bully writes a horrible comment on a video that your child has posted. For example if your child posts a video selfie, bullies would jump in and comment #ugly #slag.

 

Example of bullying using Vine

In 2014,  an embarrassing video of a boy was taken in a school bathroom and after it went viral he was bullied so badly over it that he committed suicide.  According to the ABC 10 News channel;

Matthew’s friends told his parents about a video. They said a classmate had peered over a bathroom stall and recorded Matthew while he was at school. They said that student then posted it on Vine and other sites claiming he caught Matthew masturbating.

“It went viral. It went beyond his school. It went to other schools in California. Kids in the neighborhood who didn’t go to Matthew’s school had heard about it and seen the video that was taken of him,” said his Aunt.  “Kids saw this video and began to tease Matthew mercilessly — they teased him, they harassed him.  They made his life miserable over a two-week period.”  His family said it was after those two weeks of bullying that Matthew took his life.

 

3. Inviting stranger danger – your child sharing too much on an open account

Lots of teens give away too much information about themselves on Vine which exposes them to being approached or groomed by strangers. These include;

  • Leaving their account public. When your child’s account is public anyone can see all the videos your child is taking of themselves.  While this might not concern your child, you might not want strangers having access to all of this material. You should advise your child to make their profile private so that only people that they approve can follow them and see their videos.
  • Some teens post far too much information on their profile page (which is usually public) and this often includes first name, last name,  phone number and email address. Teens should always avoid using their real names and never post their phone number or email address for strangers to see.
  • Many teens also post their skype username, facebook username or Kik messenger nickname on their profile. This enables strangers to approach and message your child.

 

Next Step – To address these issues parents should learn

  • How to setup a Vine account.
  • How to use Vine
    • How to use the menu options
    • How to record and post a video
    • How to find someone on Vine
    • How to search for a topic on Vine

How to advise your child on using Vine

    • How your child can make their account Private
    • How your child can change their Password
    • How to block an account
    • How to report content
    • How to Deactivate your account

 

How to monitor what your child is doing on Vine

    • How to find your child on Vine
    • How to check who your child is
    • following and what they are seeing
    • How to check who is following your child

 

About the author

Evan is a digital marketing lecturer and trainer and also delivers digital parenting workshops throughout Ireland for schools and parent groups. He developed his digital media expertise in London where he was Head of European Marketing for Yahoo! Mobile, Head of Customer and New Media marketing at Orange and Head of Direct Marketing at BT. He has extensive experience of digital marketing across web and mobile covering the Irish, UK and European markets Evan is the founder of The Digital Parenting Academy and www.digitalparenting.ie

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