This week, LEGO launched a new social media-style app for kids called LEGO Life (iOS and Android), a free app that’s designed for kids ages 7-12 to share their LEGO creations and get ideas and inspiration for new projects to build.
As much as we love LEGO, we always have reservations about anything “social media-y” for kids that young. So, we took a closer look to see exactly how it works and if it’s something you should look into for your kids.
How the LEGO Life app works
The app is primarily a feed of images, where kids can store and share photos of their LEGO creations. Kids take photos, add stickers and a caption, and (if they want) upload it for others to like or comment on. No words are allowed in the comments (thanks to the safety features, below) so you’ll see things like a heart, three chicken legs, and a snowflake — an obvious response to LEGO penguins ice skating, right?.
Immature, probably. But inappropriate, not so much.
Throughout the user-generated posts, you’ll also see content from LEGO, which include everything from building challenges to trivia games that inspire your kid to set the iPad down for a half hour and make something else cool to share. Two thumbs up to that. That said, LEGO says that kids will “get the latest news” about new LEGO products and events through the app, which sure sounds like marketing to this mom’s ears.
What about safety?
Safety is always (and rightly) a top concern for parents when it comes to social media, and this app has some features I really appreciate that help to ensure this is a safe space for kids. First, parents must approve their child’s profile via email before they can even start. Each user’s profile “photo” is a customized LEGO minifig avatar (no photos of children anywhere here), and their username is randomly generated by the app. Kids can keep generating names until they get one they like, but they can’t enter their own. Awesome.
In the comments, only the pre-approved emojis can be used, and LEGO is monitoring the use of those to see if they’re used inappropriately. Even though they’ve clearly put thought into only having positive emoji available, I know kids will likely misconstrue what people are saying by their use of emoji at some point. That said, the fact that direct chatting is banned (especially since kids will probably share their usernames with friends at school) is probably a really good thing.
And finally, LEGO Life also uses a software screening process to filter out any posts with objectionable language or photos that include kids’ faces, and a second human review takes place on any flagged content. These are all great steps toward making sure LEGO Life is a fun, safe place for young kids to share their love for LEGOs.
If your kids love building with LEGOs, the LEGO Life app is a definitely a safe space for them to share their work and interact with other kids. We still stress (as always) that’s it’s important to talk to your kids about appropriate digital behavior, and also keep an eye on what could easily become a bit of an obsession with getting likes and comments on their work. But overall, this is a safe way to introduce kids to social networks, and one that could be educational for them, too.