Good Digital Parenting
Blog | March 28, 2017

What is VSCO?

Student, American University

You’ve heard of the basic social media platforms that teens are using: Snapchat, Instagram, and maybe Twitter. You may even use a few of these platforms yourself. One you may not have heard about? VSCO.

VSCO is a photo-sharing app that has become quite popular with high schoolers. Similar to Instagram, the app allows users to edit and add filters to photos before sharing them. Users can use the filters and save their photos without sharing them on the network if they prefer. 

VSCO is restricted to users 13 years of age and older. Users must at a minimum provide a username and email. The username also does not necessarily need to be a user’s name, so users can choose to be anonymous if they would like. There is also the option of providing a first and last name as well as a short biography.

Unlike most social media platforms, VSCO does not have like or comment features. Users also can’t see who is following them. Many have praised the app for taking a step away from the social media culture of counting likes and followers, as they believe it takes away some of the stress of posting.

VSCO is also reported to have a more “artistic” feel than Instagram or other photo-sharing apps. It defines itself as an art and technology company, and has more “serious” editing features than Instagram. Because of this, many users have VSCO as an account to share their more artistic photos and practice their photography skills.

The privacy settings that VSCO offers are slim to none. Users don’t have the option to make their accounts private, so anyone can see their photos that they share. VSCO also has a default setting that shares the location that any picture is taken or shared at. If users don’t opt to turn off the feature, anyone can see these locations.

What’s even more problematic about VSCO is the types of photos that many teenagers are sharing. Because fewer parents are aware of VSCO (sorry parents), teenagers often use it to share their riskier photos. These can range from pictures with liquor bottles and vape pens to selfies dressed inappropriately.

Users need to remember that just because some adults don’t know about VSCO doesn’t mean that it’s okay to share some of these images. Digital footprints last forever, and pictures that teenagers think are okay to post now may reflect poorly on them when applying for schools or jobs. 

VSCO can be a great opportunity for parents to have a conversation with kids about what should and should not be shared online. Having this conversation can make teenagers more comfortable with talking to their parents about issues they are having online and demonstrates to teens that their parents can be a useful source of information should they need any help.