Live.ly App Review | Video Streaming For Teens

Live.ly App Overview

Live.ly is a live video-streaming app designed for teens that lets users stream their ‘everyday life’ to friends and people across the world. Like any live-streaming app, Live.ly raises high privacy risks with concerns surrounding what young people share and what content they view from strangers. Sexting and cyberbullying are just 2 of those risks.

Features for Parental Caution

  • High sexting risk
  • High privacy risk and confusing privacy settings
  • High risk of exposure to adult photo or video content
  • High cyberbullying risk
  • High risk of meeting strangers
  • Low risk of profanity or crude humour
  • Parents should know if a child under 18 has the app
  • Not recommended for users under 18

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What Parents Should Know About the Live.ly App

Live.ly is free to download. Marketed as an app for ‘real-time interactions’, it allows users to create and automatically share live videos with an online audience to attract followers, likes and instant feedback. If you leave the app’s settings on default, any anonymous user may view and interact with your live stream. It is strongly recommended that teens restrict their live stream to people they know personally.

The most significant risk with this app is privacy. Many teens use Live.ly’s streaming to answer personal questions from anonymous viewers. While the app includes a warning at the start of each streaming session to avoid revealing personal information, young people may be influenced to share personal information or inappropriate content to gain viewers or likes. They may share their Snapchat handle or phone number publicly, or accidentally reveal clues about their location or identity.

Despite the app’s official age recommendation of 13+, adult content (sometimes created by minors) is rife on the app, presenting a danger that inappropriate sexual behaviour will be normalised. Teens may also receive unsolicited and inappropriate content from strangers. This may range from cyberbullying attacks to adult content or interactions from sexual predators.

Concerningly, the app’s policy regarding age is contradictory. While Live.ly’s terms of use state users should be at least 13 years old, the sign up process asks the user to confirm they are 18. This is unenforceable which is why  cases have been reported of tweens ignoring these age restrictions, lying about their age and posting streams with the app.

There is currently no way for parents to monitor the app except by using third party software such as Wangle Family Insites.

How the Live.ly App Works

After downloading the app, you can log in to Live.ly with your Musical.ly, Facebook or Twitter account. Before live streaming a video, it is recommended to set your account to private and protect your location. Within Musical.ly, navigate to the Settings tab and click ‘Private account’. This ensures that only people you are connected to and identify as a friend can view your live streams. To protect your location, select ‘Hide location’. This will stop nearby users from finding you in search or identifying your location via GPS.

Once logged in, click ‘Go Live’ to start live streaming. If you have not made your account private, anyone with the app can view, comment, send a virtual gift, or interact with you in real time as you stream your video. It is possible to block users who post inappropriate comments. The guesting feature allows you to invite other Live.ly users to join as a video guest, creating a multi-way live group chat.

If you encounter inappropriate content on the app (such as pornographic content), it is possible to flag this content to the developer. However, Live.ly’s terms and conditions stipulate that the developer is not obligated to act.

To restrict who can submit comments, navigate to Settings and select ‘Only friends can direct.ly me’. You can also control who sends you ‘Go Live’ requests by selecting ‘close friends’ within Settings. If you have both Musical.ly and Live.ly, and have shared private or location information on Musical.ly, be aware that any Live.ly user can view it and send a private message without being a friend or follower.

If the privacy settings sound confusing, that’s because they are. Even teen users may accidentally show more information than they wish to, which is why we recommend caution.

Parental Recommendations

Parents should consider the risks carefully before letting their teen use Live.ly. This app can be especially dangerous when linked with a Musical.ly profile without safeguards in place to protect privacy. If your teen enjoys live video chatting, we recommended guiding them toward a safer app that allows them to video chat with known friends and family such as FaceTime or Skype. It is recommended that parents talk to their child about privacy, sexting and cyberbullying risks.

Other discussion points may include:

  • The importance of thinking carefully about what they post and who may view it
  • How to deal with cyberbullying and use the ‘block user’ function
  • How to report streams for inappropriate content
  • The difference between real life friends and ‘followers’

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