You may have seen the ads on TV with Arnold Schwarzenegger for “Mobile Strike” and Kate Upton for “Game of War – Fire Age” (both app games). I’ve seen an increase in advertising for apps everywhere including kids’ channels like Nickelodeon. Young children see the commercials and have free reign downloading the apps without parental supervision because they have apple ID or Google play passwords.

I had never heard of “Movie Star Planet” (MSP) until a parent asked me what I thought of it. I downloaded the app to test it myself. I was shocked by what I discovered and decided to go on a mission. An Undercover-Barbie-Police-Mission. I downloaded both new popular apps: “Movie Star Planet” and “Musical.ly.” After exploring both apps and read the parent reviews, I shared my findings LIVE on Periscope.

I’ve had a few requests to re-broadcast these reviews (since they expired after 24 hours) so I decided to post them below. Musical.ly is widely used by tweens but is not as safe as you might think. Movie Star Planet is being advertised on Nickelodeon and is a horrible app for children. Read about my findings below.

By the way, now you don’t have to get the Periscope app to see my broadcasts: they’re now automatically saved and can be viewed any time here: https://katch.me/nataliamcphedra  (Add that link to your bookmarks to catch all my future broadcasts!)

 

MUSICAL.LY:

This is an app that allows you to make videos lip-syncing popular music and take part in contests. It’s considered a social media platform because you can share your videos on Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, WhatsApp, Email and Messenger.

One of the important aspects of this app is the expectation of including hand gestures in your video to animate the lyrics of the selected song. I dug a little deeper to get an better understanding of this necessity and found this tutorial from Baby Ariel     👉🏻👉🏻HERE!!  (If she drives you nuts, just skip to the 1:35 mark)

Firstly, notice her age. Secondly, notice how many subscribers she has: 552, 000!! That’s practically “celebrity status” and she probably doesn’t even have her driver’s license!

To read parent reviews —which are WORTH THE READ click   👉🏻👉🏻HERE!  (To save you the read I’ll sum it up for you: * THIS APP IS NOT FOR CHILDREN. But if your kids already have the app, you should read the detailed review).

Things I found on my mission:

  • At the bottom of videos you can add hashtags (#).
  • I tried #porn, #party, #hotgirl, #hotchicks: which led me to a video with 3 girls in a hot tub dancing in bikinis. At the bottom of that video, I saw #inthetub. So I clicked on it. Which led me to a video of two little girls wearing swim suits sitting in a tub singing the same song as the teens in the hot tub (and they couldn’t have been older than 10 years old).
  • At the bottom of that video, I saw #inmyroom #alone so I clicked on #alone and it took me to a young girl who looked like she was 7 or 8 years old.

Now for the scary part: Her account was public. When you set up your musical.ly account its settings default is public. There is a private feature in the app but you have to do it manually. If your account is public, ANYONE can look at your videos and SHARE THEM ANYWHERE. I could have shared her video on most social media platforms. I sent her video to my email so I could show my LIVE viewers on Periscope how easy it was to do. My viewers were appalled.

Talk about a breeding ground for pedophiles and predators. And the worst part of it is that I could have sent her comments too.

Commonsensemedia.org rates this app 16+ and gives it 3/5 stars due to “iffy content.”

Saferkid.com rated the app 9+ due to a little profanity or crude humor.

I would have to side with commonsensemedia.org on the rating for this app. I would encourage parents to instead steer your tween toward Dubsmash —another silly lip-syncing app but with much safer features.

 

MOVIE STAR PLANET:

After doing a LIVE review of Movie Star Planet (MSP), I got emails from parents telling me they saw an ad for it on Nickelodeon and I almost died.

MSP is a social interactive fantasy website created for kids 8-15. The point of the game is to earn fame and fortune by social interacting, making movies and watching other people’s movies. Frankly I find it difficult to comprehend how you can string together the words “fantasy” “social interactive” and “kids 8-15” in the same sentence. It’s weird. It’s creepy. It’s anything BUT for kids.

All I needed to set up an account was an email and a password. I chose the name “Honey” for the sole purpose that I was on a mission. I was undercover looking for trouble. They told me that name was already used so they gave me some suggestions. One of which was “FabulousHoney” —which I chose … How do you feel about the age appropriateness so far?

The very first question they asked me after setting up my account was: “Let’s see if any of your school friends are already on MSP. Enter your school name now!”

Any online safety expert with half a brain would tell you NEVER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE ADDRESSES, PHONE NUMBERS AND SCHOOL NAMES ANYWHERE ONLINE.

After I set up my Barbie looking character, I could select different live chat rooms to visit to CHAT WITH COMPLETE STRANGERS. It’s a virtual world of walking cartoon characters with an obsession for finding a boyfriend or girlfriend to collect gifts. If you click on people’s profiles, it clearly says “I’m looking for a boyfriend.”

MSP’s “5 Pillars of Safety” are a joke because hackers have already found a way to get around them. They claim that they have real people who monitor the game for a list of “alert words” that are updated regularly. However one user reported that soon after joining for the first time, one of the first questions she was asked from a total stranger was if she had a “fone” and could she give him her number. “Phone” may have been picked up, but “Fone” wouldn’t.

Within 1 day of joining, I found a hacker bragging about hacking 23/200 Canadian accounts. The game contains bad language and rude animations like the middle finger and twerking. I read TONS of reviews and comments supporting the theory that Movie Star Planet is NOT SAFE FOR KIDS. You can read some at the bottom of this article:

Omnisquad Security Blog: Moviestarplanet Not Just Child’s Play. What Every Parent Should Know.

My advice to parents:

Do your due diligence on apps you allow your children on. Don’t be ignorant and trust that they’re safe just because they’re advertised on children’s TV channels. Kids might say “There’s nothing wrong with it! All my friends have it!” but you’re the parent. The dog wags the tail —always.