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Firework: A New Way to Watch

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Firework: A New Way to Watch App Poster Image
30-second videos with cool features; no comments, likes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning.

Ease of Play

Well-organized interface makes browsing and making videos easy; not readily evident how to cancel uploads or what the "Buy Now" button is for. 

Violence

No violence in the app itself; user-generated content could contain references to or images of violence. 

Sex

No sex in the app itself; user-generated content could contain suggestive references or images. 

Language

No profanity in the app itself; user-generated content could contain bad language. 

Consumerism

Users are prompted to join "challenges" to win prizes; app contains a "Buy Now" button. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drugs or drinking in the app itself; user-generated content could contain references to or images of drug and/or alcohol use.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Firework: A New Way to Watch is a freemium social media app that lets users browse and create 30-second videos. Registration requires either a Facebook or Google account or a phone number and asks users for gender and age. If users enter anything under 13 for the latter, a message reminds them that users must be over 13, but there's no verification, and there are definitely users under 13. Users can share one another's profiles and videos. They can also message each other directly, as well as report or block one another. They aren't able to leave comments or like videos at the time of review, but the FAQ mentions that users can leave unlimited comments and likes, so those may be planned features. Timed Challenges encourage users to create videos featuring specific subject matter, and a "Buy Now" button within Sponsored Challenges encourages users to purchase products from third-party vendors. User-created videos can contain objectionable content, including profanity, semi-nudity, and suggestive performances by tween girls. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

FIREWORK: A NEW WAY TO WATCH is a freemium social media app with some similarities to TikTok that lets you create 30-second videos in both vertical and horizontal format, just by turning your phone. It also contains filters that let you add visual and time effects to your videos, as well as music (from an existing library of songs) and text. Tools also let you "collaborate" with other users indirectly by splitting or editing their videos or making screen-in-screen videos of you reacting to them. Videos can be posted to the app and shared across a wide range of the most popular social media apps, but there's no "Like" option or comments -- only "Not Interested" or "Share." The app asks you a series of questions to determine your interests, and then curates videos related to them. You can browse videos by swiping left and right, or search by creator or hashtag. You can also follow other users, message them directly, and share their profiles. Sponsored Challenges encourage you make videos regarding specific subjects and buy products from third-party vendors using a "Buy Now" button. 

Is it any good?

An elegant, user-friendly interface and easy-to-use editing tools make this one of the better video creation apps out there, but there are still some risks for teens. You can make short-form videos with music, text, and visual effects, but other apps let you do that. This one's patented "REVEAL" technology also lets you shift between horizontal and vertical video just by turning your phone. Used intelligently, it's pretty nifty (used randomly, it's stomach-turning). Uploading and sharing videos is easy, and the absence of likes and commenting minimizes the negativity and creepiness video makers receive. That said, users can still message you directly, but it's easier -- and more desirable to teens who want feedback -- to block or report specific users than to turn off comments entirely.

If you're more of a browser than a creator, easy swipe controls let you comb through different categories, or you can search for specific subjects by people, hashtag, or music. One cool feature: If you like the music someone uses on a video, you can hit View Soundtrack and see what the song's called and even save it to your Favorites. However, the app's music library isn't exactly packed with Top 40 hits. In fact, it seems to be made up mostly of work by composers who make royalty-free music or by unknown (possible up-and-coming?) indie artists. All told, the app is well-organized and functions well, but it suffers from the same safety issues so many social media apps do. Though the content that's served up on the surface is pretty tame, there's a decent number of "sexy" videos if you dig in a bit further, with young women in skimpy clothes or performing suggestive dances. And though the app's meant for users over the age of 13, there are definitely users younger than that. Because of this, Firework: A New Way to Watch is a good app for you and your kids to make short-form videos, but only if you keep kids younger than 13 away from it and keep a close eye on the content that older kids create.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about age-appropriate content on Firework: A New Way to Watch and similar apps. Do your kids understand what kinds of videos are right for them to create and share? 

  • Think about how your kids share online. Do you know which apps they have on their phone and whether they're old enough to use those apps? 

  • Discuss contacting strangers online. Do your kids know what to do if a stranger messages them directly? 

App details

For kids who love social networking and digital presentation

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