Time flies on the Internet. Just two months ago I was here raving about the new app that had swept every tween girl into a frenzy: Musical.ly
Today, I deleted it from all the devices in our house and effectively banned her from it. And I recommend you do the same if your kid is younger than, say 13. I’ll explain why in a sec.
Nobody could have predicted how fast Musical.ly became a thing back when we first heard about it a few months ago.
Think Pokemon Go but for girls (mostly) in primary school (mostly). It went from nothing to everything in the space of a few days and parents almost gave themselves whiplash trying to understand this new ‘thing’ that had consumed our daughters.
Wait, that's not true. At first I was cautious. Anything that involves your kid recording videos of themselves and posting them is obviously going to set off alarm bells.
Mine rang loudly. So did other people's. We published this warning post from cyber-safety expert, Susan McLean.
But I looked at the functionality closely, weighed up the risks vs benefits, implemented some rules - no makeup, no sexy dance moves, no inappropriate lyrics, only friends with people you know, only follow people you know, privacy settings turned up to max, I have the app downloaded on my phone too so I can see all the videos, you must show me the vids before you post them, no school uniform.
Mamamia's warning post from Susan McLean.
But then things slip, don't they? I stopped looking at every video. I stopped approving every friend request. Instead, I dropped in and out to check everything whenever I remembered. I noticed there were clips in school uniform and I talked to my daughter about it. "But Mum, everyone does that because we just make them after school." I looked at her friends' videos and she was right. "Oh well," I thought. "At least the emphasis isn't on clothes. That's got to be good, right?"
And so on.
I also baulked when I realised the social media application. The likes. The comments. I had a hardline ban on social media for my daughter. No way. Not until high school. No Facebook. No Instagram.
Somehow, annoyingly, Musical.ly slipped under my radar and I think it was the same for a lot of parents. Because it was new, it wasn't immediately apparent that it was social media.
Quickly, my daughter started to talk about how many likes she had.
LISTEN: Listen to Mia's daughter Coco explain why she and her friends love Musical.ly, on This Glorious Mess, the podcast for imperfect parents.
"You are not your likes," I shrieked inside my head while trying to modify my tone a little before the words came of my mouth and into her ears.
There were some things I really liked about the app, though. I liked that it was creative - as opposed to the static nature of selfies so prevalent on apps like Instagram.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard that a few schools had started to ban Musical.ly. How does that even work, some wondered. How can a school ban something that happens outside school?
Well, when kids are doing something in their school uniform, it's the school's business. And at our school, the girls and parents had to sign some kind of Internet use agreement this year that dealt with everything from online bullying to the appropriate use of social media.
Still, I held out and hoped for the best. I know the Internet, I thought. I've got this.