Teen holding a camera.

VSCO: Is This Photography App Safe for Kids?

by Screen Time Team on 30/12/2020

One of the unexpected consequences of the smartphone revolution is that we now have a global network of still and video cameras interconnected with each other where images can be commented on in real time. VSCO is a good example of that change, and it’s one parents should think carefully about.

VSCO: The Basics

  • VSCO stands for “Visual Supply Company” and was founded in 2011.
  • The app is primarily designed to recreate the look of film camera with specific presets for different models and manufacturers.
  • It’s not a “social network” per se, but it does have social features.
  • It has a subscription-based model where basic editing tools are available for free on the app while the rest of the app, including its video features, is only available with an annual fee of $19.99.

Should Parents Be Concerned About VSCO?

While you may have heard the term “VSCO girl,” usually a scornful term for a hipster with more fashion sense than common sense, VSCO has the same concerns as other photography-based apps such as Instagram:

  • Photographs may be unintentionally revealing; they may tell viewers where a person lives, what school they go to, the layout of their home, or other information you may not want to share on the app.
  • Anywhere there’s the potential for people to interact, there’s the potential for abuse, whether it’s cyberbullying, online grooming, or just generally unpleasant behavior from adults.
  • Teenagers may also find their work getting stolen by other users, which can be difficult to fight.

If your teen is intensely curious about photography and wants to experiment with different styles of camera, then VSCO may be worth considering, but parents should put rules into place and enforce them with parental control software.

Teen taking a photo.

How To Use VSCO Safely

Parents should set rules around VSCO and other apps to ensure safety and abiding by the rules.

  • VSCO’s terms of service do not allow users under 13, so the app should be blocked for anybody under that age by parental control software.
  • Disable in-app purchases without a passcode at the operating system level.
  • Discuss with your teen how they’re planning to use the app and why they want to use it. There’s no particular reason to use VSCO in the place of other camera software, including post-production software available on laptops without social features.
  • Create their profile together and check it for any identifiers you may not want out there. Pay close attention to the profile picture.
  • Regularly sit down to talk about the photos they’re taking and why. In addition to encouraging them to be artistic, it will also have them thinking about what they see.
  • Make sure they understand that any inappropriate messages or overly friendly contact from strangers should be discussed with you.

Teens should be encouraged to be thoughtful and creative. Yet they also need guidance to use social apps safely as they transition into adulthood. Parental control software can help ease that transition while making you feel more secure about their health and safety. To learn more about Screen Time, try it for free!

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