A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
VSCO is a photo editing and media sharing tool. The free version gives users access to standard editing tools, such as white balance, exposure, contrast and a sampling of the available presets. Users can scroll and test out presets themselves or can tap on the “for this photo” feature, which displays a collection of suggested presets for each specific photograph. The free version also allows users to explore others’ photos and find inspiration in curated portfolios that include collections such as “humankind,” “editorial,” “summer,” and “style” to name a few. Users can share their images and videos to the app’s feed and/or share them directly from VSCO to other social media or digital platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, email, or text. Paid membership grants users access to over 170 presets and more sophisticated editing tools, including editing tools for video and vintage film re-creation. Membership also opens the door to photo challenges, editing tips, and tutorials. User’s edited photos are collected in their personal studio. They can also design a journal entry, which allows them to tell a story with a collection of their favorite photos. Users can also edit videos and post them to VSCO. And members can create a DSCO, which is essentially a GIF.
In addition to editing photos and creating content, kids will be able to directly communicate with users if they mutually follow each other. VSCO users can follow other members to consistently see their content on their feed and to communicate with them through private messaging. A tool for artistic self expression and inspiration, the material posted represents diverse interests, points of view, and realities. Most of the material is appropriate for all ages, but some material depicts sexy, suggestive, or substance-related material. Users can report inappropriate content -- such as nudity or violence -- for removal.
Is it any good?
This comprehensive editing tool promotes unique content and communication with members of the creative community, but it's a bit tricky to figure out at first and has some iffy images. VSCO is versatile in that users can just edit and post pictures and video or also take advantage of the social elements. Its feed is more a collection of professional photographs, editorial, and creative images than Instagram, and there's an emphasis on the editing tool and creation of unique images. The preset suggestions for each photograph are also pretty cool, especially if you are new to editing and find it overwhelming to sift through all the possible options. Unfortunately, the interface isn't super clear, and learning to navigate the app with enough proficiency in order to take full advantage of its features will take some trial and error.
Like with any tool that has a social media component, there are some features that parents need to be aware of. The good news is that without public comments, likes, or follower counts some of the pressures and toxicity of other social media is taken out of the equation. However, the app collects and shares location data unless turned off in the settings, so kids sharing images will also be sharing their location. While images, captions, likes, and followers are public information, direct messaging adds a private component, allowing kids to talk with other members without oversight. In terms of images, during the time of review there was a sprinkle of provocative images, like women in bathing suits or skimpy outfits, some provacative poses. Specific searches also surface images of marijuana and alcohol, and while users can report inappropriate material for removal, it's unlikely pictures that might strike parents as inappropriate would be removed since the app is really designed for adults. Despite its drawbacks, VSCO is a solid editing tool for teens. Users will find that even the features in the free version are enough to create unique images. With some conversations about messaging and parental oversight, teens who are into photography and art will likely enjoy VSCO and find inspiration in the work posted by the community.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using social media responsibly when using VSCO. Teens will see art through the lens of diverse users and will be able to communicate with artists from all over the world. Discuss reporting images that display nudity, are sexually explicit, or portray violence. Discuss how to use the messaging feature responsibly and when to report alarming communication to a grownup.
Talk about composition, photo techniques, and editing ideas to promote kids’ creativity and help them develop their own style.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Arts: film, photography
- Skills: Creativity: imagination, innovation, making new creations, producing new content
Communication: multiple forms of expression
Tech Skills: digital creation, social media
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Paid, Free (The app is free but there's an optional membership plan for $19.99 per year. This upgrade includes 200+ exclusive presets and tools.)
- Release date: March 25, 2019
- Category: Photo & Video
- Size: 141.20 MB
- Publisher: Visual Supply Company
- Version: 105.0
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 11.0 or later; Android 4.4 and up
- Last updated: June 20, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love photography and creativity
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.