Lego has entered the social media scene with a new app aimed at the under-thirteen crowd– Lego Life.
Patterned largely after Instagram (with a hint of Pinterest), Lego Life is a social media platform where Lego lovers of any age can share their creations, participate in challenges, and bond over the love of the tiny plastic bricks.
Of course, the question in every parent’s mind is the safety of such a platform– particularly one targeting children so directly. Here’s the good, the bad, and the bottom line of each aspect of the Lego Life app.
The Sign-up Process
The Good: Unlike other social media apps, Lego Life is clearly passionate about obtaining parents’ explicit consent for their kids’ use of the platform. Signing up for Lego Life requires users to enter a username (the app instructs kids not to use their real name) and a parent’s email address. Lego Life then emails the parent with a summary of the app, the kid’s chosen username, and Lego’s data collection policy. While a kid can look around at Lego and user-generated content automatically, he can’t post, like, comment on, or follow any content until a parent opens the email and confirms his gender and birth date and that he has permission to use Lego Life.
The Bad: While Lego Life asks for a parent’s email address and requires the entry of an email address, Lego Life has no way of knowing if the email address entered actually belongs to the kid’s parent. Kids could easily enter their own email address or a friend’s email address, open the email, and fill out the permission form themselves.
The Bottom Line: Lego Life gets kudos for trying to gain parental consent, but it’s hard to best a sneaky kid. While Lego Life asks kids not to use their real name as a username, kids could enter their real names anyway. Lego Life also requires kids’ birth dates and gender to sign up.
The Good: Much of the content is generated by Lego and is Lego-centric and kid-friendly. Live moderators approve each user-created post before allowing it to publish. There are no ads, and the majority of posts are pictures of actual Lego structures.
The Bad: The hashtag groups are themed, and some of group content in neglects the Legos and revolves around the theme. For example, in the Disney Princess hashtag group, some users share fanfiction stories, character drawings, and talk about their favorite Disney movie scenes. Alarming? Not really, especially with the live moderators, but keep in mind that not all Lego Life content is focused solely on Legos.
The Bottom Line: Lego Life content is well-monitored and rated G. Keep in mind that the discussion and content in the hashtag groups may stray a bit from Legos.
Expense to Parents:
The Good: Lego Life currently has no in-app purchase options. Hooray!
The Bad: Your kids may be inspired by the Lego creations they see and beg for more expensive Lego sets.
The Bottom Line: Right now, you don’t have to worry about Lego Life adding to your credit card bill.
The Good: While kids come up with their own usernames, the name attached to their posts and comments is a random three word phrase generated by Lego Life. No “Sexy So and So” or “Hot Stuff Here!” Lego Life moderators have banned selfies, so your kid can’t share pictures of herself. The Lego avatars are generic enough that users won’t be recognized if they try to model their avatar after themselves. Lego Life currently has no private chat feature.
The Bad: Users frequently sign their posts with their first name and refer to other users by real names. The Lego Life moderators don’t seem to be stopping this.
The Bottom Line: Lego Life strongly encourages safe online habits, but parents should check up on kids to make sure they are not posting identifying information.
The Good: There’s no private chat feature, so everything said is out in the open. On user-generated posts, kids can only comment with Lego Life-generated emojis. Lego is promoting the app as a no-bullying zone and so is highly invested in preventing cyberbullying.
The Bad: Users can use text to comment on posts by Lego Life. Kids are creative, so only time will tell if they find a way to be cruel within Lego Life’s constraints.
The Bottom Line: So far, Lego Life seems a positive community safe from cyberbullies.
Promotion of Screen-Life Balance (AKA Will this app glue my kid to his iPad?)
The Good: With frequent Lego building challenges (“Show us your best minifigure photobomb photos!”) and plenty of inspiration from other users, Lego Life can motivate your kids for some off-line fun! Rob Lowe, senior director at the Lego Group, told CNNTech one of Lego Life’s main purposes is to convince kids to “put their iPhone down and go do something.”
The Bad: With loads of creative content, Lego Life has an easy scrollability that makes it easy to spend hours admiring others’ Lego expertise.
The Bottom Line: Encourage your kids to build and post instead of scrolling through others’ creations endlessly.
The Good: Lego Life is a socially conscious app with great intentions! Parental involvement is strongly encouraged, efforts are made to preserve users’ privacy, and the content is family friendly. Your kids may even be inspired to turn off the screens and get lost in Legos!
The Bad: As more users sign up and the content volume increases, we will see if the live moderators can keep up. Parents should remind kids to never post identifying information online and to ask friends not to refer to them by real-life names. Discussion can easily drift away from Legos, so parents should check in frequently to see how their kids are engaging with this app.
The Bottom Line: Lego Life is off to a promising start. If the platform can maintain the live moderation, keep content Lego-centric, and prevent cyberbullying, this may be a safe introduction to social media for kids.
Have you tried out Lego Life? Share your experience below!
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