All About Apps: Advice for Parents About the Video-Sharing iPhone App VINE

Vine: the video version of Instagram, because pictures just aren’t enough anymore.

Vine is Twitter’s new video sharing app for the iPhone. It’s still fairly new and, judging by the lack of certain important features (like, say, privacy settings), you should expect to see many updates and enhancements to this app in the near future.

But, hey, I saw it on Ellen a few days ago so clearly it’s a hit and we should talk about it.

How the app works:

1. Create account.

The set up is the same as every other social media app. You set up an account, create a username, and find friends.

This app is a little tricky in the safety department. And by “tricky” I mean that it has zero privacy settings to protect accounts. I would guess that the developers will add in those features soon, but in the meantime, all videos and profiles are public.

2. Make a video.

Vine videos are created using the in-app camera, and are anywhere from 3 to 6 seconds long. Just a short 6-second-max snippet of life

The fun part of Vine is the way the videos are created: the camera only records while the screen is being pressed. So within your 6 second video, you can have several tiny clips. Think stop-motion video style, if you’re familiar with that. Better yet, I’ll just show you my favorite stop-motion Vine:

(To hear the sound, unmute the video in the top left corner.)

3. Share with friends.

Once a video is uploaded to Vine, a copy is saved to the iPhone’s Camera Roll.

Vine users can tag friends using @username, create #hashtags, and “like”/comment on others’ videos. (In other words, your kids can communicate with each other on Vine just like they can on Instagram or Twitter.)

A quick note about hashtags…

A hashtag is a hyperlink designed to group information together. It is basically a way to join in on a public conversation. On Twitter it groups tweets, on Instagram it groups photos, and on Vine it groups videos. (On Facebook it does nothing. So stop hashtagging there.)

When enough individuals have adapted a certain hashtag, it might show up under the “trending” section, allowing even more people to join in on the conversation.

For example, here are the trending Vine topics for today:

Seeing the trending topics, I might want to join in with a video of my own last day of school. I’ll create my video and use #lastdayofschool in my video caption. A quick search of that hashtag will pull up any and all videos using that tag (including mine). Make sense?

So, in a nutshell, Vine is 6 seconds of video clips, on a loop, with sound, shared with the world at large.

Parents: what concerns should you have about this app?

For starters, the lack of privacy controls. This is sketchy, especially if you have younger kids and are a protected-account-only family.

Also, stumbling upon raunchy messages and/or porn is always a risk in social media. With this app, I feel like I’ve seen a lot more filthy stuff than usual. I’m not just talking about naked people – I’m talking about more “f” words in 6 seconds than I’ve ever heard in my life. Part of it, I’m sure, is because video is more offensive to watch and hear than text is to read, but still. If your kids are on Vine, I would strongly encourage them to stick to their newsfeed to watch friends’ videos only, not do a whole lot of exploring. Videos from the Vine world at large are 1 part funny, 9 parts nasty.

There are a few types of Vine users: the girl making boring videos of every day life (me), the guy trying to record and edit a 6-second masterpiece (the flying broom guy), and the gross dude who should be voted off the internet forever (the one who favors the “f” word).

Still, concerns aside, Vine is unique and pretty entertaining. It has more of a creative element to it than other sites.

And, if your kids are on Vine, just like every other decision in life, they get to decide who they want to represent and who they want to follow. Their Vines can contribute to the filth, or they can showcase their creativity by flying around your living room on a broomstick.

Let’s encourage them towards the latter.

Because, really, Vine can be a fun place:

What do you think, parents? To Vine or not to Vine?

More Reading:

Sarah explains SnapChat here

Sarah explains Instagram here. The comments on her original Instagram post are here. 

Sarah’s follow up post on Instagram is here

Rebecca on explains why she Dumped Facebook.

Rebecca’s followup: Breaking Up with Facebook Feels so Right 

Rebecca two months later: Frankly, I’m Shocked at the Difference it’s Made. 

Check out Sarah’s blog, Life as of Late,  follow her on Twitter, or, yes, check out her Instagram account. 

Phone Apps Explained for Parents: Should Your Kid SnapChat?

The delightful blogger Sarah Brooks sent this in:

As if the internet doesn’t freak parents out enough, along comes a little smartphone app called SnapChat.

If you are familiar with SnapChat, you probably hate its guts. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’ll try to enlighten you, and then you’ll probably hate its guts.

I didn’t even want to write about this app because a) it’s very controversial and b) the amount of selfies I had to take to give you an idea of how your kids are using it is unnerving. But, alas, some parents have asked me about it and it is certainly worth discussing if you haven’t already done your research on it.

Here’s how the app works:

1. Set up an account and find friends.

Really important: the privacy on SnapChat is found under settings. Set to “My Friends” only, unless you want your child picture-messaging with strangers off the street.


2. Take a picture or video and add a caption or drawing.
(Or mustache and eyebrows in this case.)

Tapping on the picture opens up the keyboard to send a short line of text, as well.


3. Set the time expiration on the photo and send. (The most time allowed on each picture/video is 10 seconds.)

4. Friends open the message and view the photo until the time expires.

5. Photo disappears forever, never to be seen again.

According to SnapChat’s website,

Snapchat is a new way to share moments with friends. Snap an ugly selfie or a video, add a caption, and send it to a friend (or maybe a few). They’ll receive it, laugh, and then the snap disappears.

In a nutshell, the app is designed to be fun way for your kids to text with pictures. And, for the most part, that’s how they’re using it.

So…what’s the problem?

The problem is in the disappearing photo part.

When you’re a teenager alone in your room armed with a smartphone and a cute boy or girl on the other line, you might not just be sending “ugly selfies”. You might be more inclined to send selfies of the half-naked variety, especially when the photo evidence disappears into cyberspace.

The fine folks at SnapChat have also designed the app in such a way that taking a screenshot of a photo is next to impossible. It’s a circus act that requires all of your fingers, plus a few of your friends’. Even then you probably can’t get it.

The photo is gone. Any evidence of inappropriate usage is deleted.

“Well that settles it. My kid is never allowed to have this app.”

Fair enough. From a safety standpoint, this app is a parent’s worst nightmare.

That said, it’s worth pointing out that your child will send and receive half-naked pictures if he or she decides to, SnapChat or not. It’s depressing, but it’s reality. The app can certainly make doing so easier, but SnapChat isn’t to blame. Teenage hormones are. Or something.

I got this app a while ago to see how the teens in our youth group are using it – I snap, they snap, we all snap – and I’ve discovered a sliver of silver lining in all of this. From what I’ve seen (and heard), most of our kids aren’t using the app in a suspect way.

From 6th grade to college student to 25 year old mom, most are using SnapChat for good, clean fun.

An example convo might be:


Harmless texting with facial expressions attached. A way to send hilariously unfortunate selfies to your friends.

Is there room for this app to be used inappropriately? Absolutely, as is the case with all forms of communication.

Is every kid on SnapChat sexting (that phrase is the worst)? Absolutely not.

Should your child have a SnapChat account? Tough call.

This app should definitely give you pause, but I can’t answer that question for you.

All I can do is offer a little insider information on how I see/watch/hear most of our kids using it and hope that knowledge brings about great conversations with your own kids.

More questions about the app? Snap me anytime.

Check out Sarah’s blog, Life as of Late,  follow her on Twitter, or, yes, check out her Instagram account. 

More Reading:

Sarah explains Instagram here. The comments on her original post are here. 

Sarah’s follow up post on Instagram is here

Rebecca on explains why she Dumped Facebook.

Rebecca’s followup: Breaking Up with Facebook Feels so Right 

Rebecca two months later: Frankly, I’m Shocked at the Difference it’s Made.