Vine – What It Is and What Parents Need to Know

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vine_porn_large_verge_medium_landscapeVine, Twitter’s micro-video app that was launched in late January 2013, let’s people record and share six-second video clips on an endless loop (example).

A quick visit to the Vine feed shows the true potential of the app, and how a six-second looping video clip can be used to create and share really, really cool videos. And I can see how it can be used for educational purposes, even in my own family. For example, my husband could use it to show my younger son how he can improve on his pitching technique. So, I think there are a lot of positive benefits of Vine’s technology, but just like with Instagram, it’s become something that I feel parents should be wary of due to the adult culture and content that children can potentially stumble upon.

Porn was a big problem for Vine shortly after they launched. Hashtags like #sex and #porn filled the app with explicit content that users were creating themselves. Porn was such a problem that an explicit clip eventually made its way to their Editor’s Picks list—which, I’m assuming, wasn’t being manually populated at the time. There was even an entire website that compiled Vine porn, which surfaced only a few days after Vine became available on iTunes.

Vine took action shortly thereafter by taking down as much porn as they could, but people were still getting around it by using less-obvious hashtags like #NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) and #pornvine, for example. Since then, Vine has made changes to their app’s interface and navigation by making it so users can only browse appropriate hashtags, Editor’s Picks and Popular Now feeds, and removing access to feeds like All Videos. They’ve also made it so, if you do search for a porn-related hashtag, chances are there won’t be any results.


With that being said, Vine hasn’t changed their Terms of Service, so, technically, nudity and sexual content are still allowed on the app. It’s also important to know that users can still share this content on Twitter, and if you search by a specific username in Vine, you can still find porn. Remember, it’s still there, and it’s still allowed, Vine just makes it hard to find.

If you use Twitter on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen a few porn-related tweets or Twitter accounts without even trying. It’s flooded with porn. The Daily Beast reported these numbers over two years ago, via Porn Star Tweet, a social media aggregator for adult entertainers:

  • 990 porn stars who are followed by 9,140,066 users.
  • On average, the stars tweet 6.7 times per day; seven percent of Porn Star Tweets contain a photo or video.
  • In 2010, over 3 million tweets and 250,000 photos and videos.

I think it’s safe to assume that these numbers are much higher now. And this doesn’t even account for all the porn spam you see on Twitter. Vine just adds to the fact that Twitter isn’t, and never will be, intended for children—or even teens for that matter.

Apple requires that you be at least 17 years old to download Vine—in fact they even list “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity” in the app’s description. According to Katie McDonough from, “If Apple lets Vine’s policy toward explicit images slide and continues to carry the app, it could signal a change in its own guidelines around adult content — and mean your smartphone is about to get a whole lot racier.”

Make sure your child or teen has an age-appropriate experience by setting their iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad restrictions accordingly. You can learn how to do that here. Vine is also available in the Google Play Store for Android devices. You can learn how to set app downloading restrictions on Android, here.

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  • I have 3 boys and they love to vine but when I saw what they had showed me I was Disgusted there’s naked teenage girls playing with themself it’s not right its girl 7607 it needs to be taken down I would like you to get back to me and let me know if you don’t anything about this thank you very much for your time

  • Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone! bbdecadgeada

  • Here’s a good vine story for you. My 12 year old son downloaded the app and set up an account with an email account that I set up for him and have access to. There was never an email confirmation. He posted and revined several embarassing videos which I was completely unaware of. When he accidentally logged off, turn out that he had forgotten his password. Rather than reset his password, he simply started a new account using a phony and invalid email address, its not a problem since vine doesn’t confirm accounts via email upon set up. When he broke his phone (after his 13th birthday), he set up a third account using another phony invalid email address and posted and revined more inappropriate videos. Finally my wife and I were alerted to all this. We have filed several forms and sent multiple emails, my son directly and and me on his behalf. Vine says that the “legal” age is 13 even though he claimed to be 17 when setting up the accounts so they won’t deal with me. Although they were happy to set up the accounts with fake email addresses, since he does not remember them there is no way to communicate with him via those accounts to establish his ownership. So these terribly embarrassing posts are there forever it seems. After several weeks they haven’t even deleted the account tied to his “valid” email account.

    • I have 2 sons (17 and 15) who have been posting inappropriate vine videos for 2 years now, containing vulgar language and content that is embarrassing to our family. I want them both to disable their accounts and for Vine to remove all content from their site, as it is accessible quite easily by anyone on the internet just by searching the boys names. They will not give me their passwords.. they say they “forgot” them. Will Vine comply with a parents request to disable and remove accounts of minors if requested by a parent? If so, what is the process to do this? thanks

      • Thank you for writing and asking for a solution. I’m troubled by your message. It sounds like your sons are in need of some strong digital parenting. This is what I recommend you do.

        1. Remind yourself, that your sons would never be allowed by you or by others to stand, for instance, in the middle of the downtown area where you live, or walk on stage at a school assembly and act in the vulgar and embarrassing way they are on vine. If it’s not OK offline, it should never ever be OK online.

        2.I recommend you immediately take away their phones for two weeks. Keep them in your purse, away from where they can find them. Trust me, they’ll go looking. Maybe after two weeks they’ll “remember their passwords”. This period will also give you time to wipe their devices and set them up so they are safety enabled.

        Follow these links to learn more:

        iOS 7 Parental Controls

        Android Parental Controls Apps

        3. I’m pretty sure you pay for their phone, right? Your boys having a phone isn’t a right. It’s a privledge that YOU pay for and that they need to earn your trust. It’s time you immediately get them in line as not only are they disrespecting your family it seems, but themselves, and their actions can limit their opportunities for jobs or getting into college. (Read about the social media background check here)

        Lay down the rules:

        a. Consider a written agreement such as one modified to fit your family like this.

        b. Require that they tell you their password. Seems they are lying to you saying they don’t remember.

        c. Do not allow them social media apps on their phone like Vine, until they prove to you they can act responsibly.

        d. Know their passwords to their social media accounts.

        e. Use monitoring software such as these listed above to help confirm they are using technology responsibly.

        f. Tell them “it’s open phone policy”. You open and read whenever you want.

        g. Let them know: don’t like the rules, too bad. No phone.

        h. Strengthen your backbone. Stick with the rules you lay down. Be strong. You’re doing the right thing. Raising good young men is hard enough. They don’t need social media and bad choices to make it even harder for you, and them.

  • This is good information, Mary Kay. Having a 14 y/o daughter myself I have been scrutinizing many of the applications that are available to her. My take on Vine is, that although it does offer a creative outlet for some, others see it as a vehicle to gain fame among their peers. Kids are doing the “cinnamon challenge”, jumping off roofs into swimming pools, and testing other limits in hopes that their video is the one that goes viral. Parents should be well aware of this as they allow their kids to install it on their phones and tablets.

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