Litsy

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Litsy App Poster Image
Fun book-tracker focuses on influence; flawed functionality.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Encourages teens to read and review a wide variety of books; level of involvement and writing will vary widely.

Ease of Play

Simple interface marred by imperfect search function, non-automatic refresh.

Violence

No violence in the app itself, but keyword searches could bring up books containing violence.

Sex

No sex in the app itself, but keyword searches could bring up books containing sexual references.

Language

No bad language in the app itself, but keyword searches could bring up books containing profanity like "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism

None in the app itself, however some users promote their own products and websites.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No references to drugs or alcohol in the app itself, but keyword searches could bring up books containing those.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Litsy is a free social media app that's similar to Goodreads in that it's targeted at book lovers and used for reviewing, sharing, and cataloging books. It requires an email or Facebook account to register, but user profiles contain no contact information or personal details beyond a photo and user-designated motto. Users can search for friends via their Facebook contact lists or by name or username. You can search by hashtag, which can return books inappropriate for younger children. Users can make their accounts private, thus limiting who follows them, and can block specific users. 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?

LITSY is a free social media app designed for bookworms. Much like with online site Goodreads, users can search for books, review them, add them to "To Read" or "Have Read" lists, and share them with other readers. They can also follow friends and/or featured users and enjoy those readers' individual feeds. This Instagram-like app lets book enthusiasts post quotes, blurbs, images, reviews, and comments on other users' posts. It automatically tracks the number of books (and pages) users have read, as well as the number of comments, followers, likes, and book adds they've gathered, thus creating a "Litfluence" rating for them. Users with high Litfluence are awarded a kind of literary celebrity within the app, and are featured on the "suggested users" page.

Is it any good?

This app is an interesting mashup of social media and books, but its glitches and emphasis on status hamper it. On the upside, it's simpler than Goodreads, and lets you search for books, share them with friends, and create collections with ease. Better still, it adds a lively social element by letting you post photos along with reviews. The latter is important when it comes to personalizing your feed and increasing your Litfluence.

Users with high Litfluence (some call themselves "Littens") are serious about their profiles and presentation. This makes them fun to follow. However, parents could be rightly concerned about the app's emphasis on achieving Litfluence, as opposed to reading. In terms of functionality, the most bothersome thing about Litsy is its tendency to crash (which it did frequently at the time of this writing). On top of that, its pages don't update automatically, and its searches often return obscure titles only mildly related to the authors you're looking for. Finally, there are few details about individual books and no author profile pages. As far as kid safety goes, it's best for teens because of the inappropriate results returned by searches containing references to sex, alcohol, and profanity like "s--t" or "f--k." Despite all this, though, the app's easy and convenient to use, and if you don't take it too seriously, it's fun watching your book shelves and Litfluence grow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about digital citizenship and being responsible online with apps like Litsy. What information is OK to share? What isn't? What's OK to post, and what's not?

  • Think about the kinds of books your kid is reading. Do you talk to your kids about what's appropriate reading for their age and skill level? What do they enjoy?

  • Talk about your motivation for using an app like Litsy that rewards use, likes, and follows. Does that add to the experience? Does it take away from it?

App details

For kids who love reading and social networking

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