When it comes to watching out for your children online, social media as we tend to think of it is only half the battle. We’ve talked about Facebook, Snapchat, and Reddit, but there’s another category of sites and apps that we need to pay attention to live streaming apps like LiveMe.
Would you invite the world into your child’s bedroom? Of course not, but your child might, and he or she can easily do it with LiveMe.
What Is LiveMe?
On LiveMe, users can stream live video of themselves to an anonymous audience of fellow users. Those users can post comments and interact with the people in the video.
(Facebook, Instagram, and other sites also have live video options; with the right privacy settings, those videos can only be seen by the user’s Facebook friends or Instagram followers. Furthermore, live video, though popular, is not the most commonly used feature of those sites. With streaming apps, live video is the entire purpose of the site.)
When you visit the LiveMe website and click “explore” at the top of the page, you’ll notice the most popular category is called “Girls.” As you scroll through the list of young female broadcasters, the screenshots feature mostly images of young women in bikinis, underwear, and low-cut shirts.
Which leads us to this:
The Dangers of LiveMe
This article gives a few examples of why the reporters contacted the FBI after they spent some time on LiveMe:
“A girl, who was clearly underage, was livestreaming while dancing provocatively in her bedroom. More than 800 people were watching her and commenting with things like, ‘love you,’ ‘kiss me,’ and other comments that are too sexually explicit to repeat.
“While an underage girl was livestreaming, commenters told her things like ‘open your dress’ and ‘take off your jacket.'”
Even though the app’s terms and conditions prohibit sexually explicit content, hate speech, bullying, illegal activity and more, it’s clear that the moderators don’t manage to catch everything. Like other websites, negative and even dangerous behavior can slip under the radar and put young people in danger.
Not only is LiveMe a potential hunting ground for sexual predators, the article mentions that the location services “…can be used to pinpoint exact locations—within 10 feet.” Furthermore, many young users are careless about sharing personal information: they gladly answer requests for their addresses or their phone numbers.
Even if your child is fortunate enough not to come in contact with any sexual predators, your child may still be bullied by her peers (and other unknown users) via an app like this.
What Are Parents Saying About LiveMe?
Common Sense Media shares reviews of LiveMe; page after page of reviews by parents say things like this:
- “Parents beware!”
- “Not enough child safety precautions.”
- “It’s a horrible app and should be shut down.”
- “Children, tweens, and teens are vulnerable on this site. Don’t let them use it without strict parental involvement.”
- “I couldn’t BELIEVE the things I saw…”
- “I found the messaging part of the app and was sickened to see one man had been chatting to her and then started asking her sexually explicit things. I am currently waiting for the police to come and see this and investigate.”
Very few parents encourage the use of LiveMe; some mention that it should be an adults-only app. Interestingly, Common Sense Media also shares reviews by kids who have used LiveMe. Many of those reviews are glowing, with one reviewer saying, “…parents, you all need to calm down.” However, one reviewer admits that she was harassed on LiveMe and suggests being careful about who you choose to follow.
So pay attention. Like other less-than-wonderful social media sites and apps, kids and teens enjoy using LiveMe, even if we as parents wouldn’t consider it safe or healthy.
How closely do you monitor your child’s internet usage? Just because you’ve never heard him talk about LiveMe doesn’t mean he’s not using it.
What Can Parents Do?
Add LiveMe to your list of apps to block using parental controls! That’s one simple way to take care of the issue. With any luck, maybe you heard about LiveMe before your kids did, and you can block it before they get curious about it.
If your children are already using LiveMe or if you plan to approve the use of the app, pay close attention to their usage. Talk with them about the potential dangers and ask them to inform you if anyone says anything creepy, hurtful, or disgusting. Make sure that you do regular checkups on the app. We always encourage parents to check your child’s actual phone on occasion because they can always have secret or multiple accounts that you don’t know about.
All internet safety rules apply. Children should be taught to never share personal information with strangers. This is especially dicey with something like live streaming because there could be information in the background of the video that helps identify the user’s location as well as other personal information like family, school, interests, and even health issues.
Online predators are skilled and patient. They know how to build trust and how to ask the right questions; the answers don’t necessarily seem dangerous to a child, but they provide the predator with information that helps pinpoint identity and location.
Visit the LiveMe website and look around. Get to know what it is and how it’s used. Decide if you want your children to spend any time using it, or if there might be a better social media option for them. If so, block LiveMe and any other questionable video apps like Airtime and House Party. With parental controls, you can block specific sites and entire categories of sites, so you have a peace of mind over what your child is doing online.
While you’re at it, you can disable the internet on your child’s device during specific hours. For example, if you want your child to be sleeping rather than live streaming a video from his bedroom at 2:00 in the morning, you can disable the internet for the entire night. Your child rests, and you rest easy.