What is a Vsco and How To Be a Vsco Girl

What is VSCO and is it okay for Girls?

Have you seen links to a website called “vsco.co” in your kid’s Instagram profile or that of their friends? If not you might soon and you’ll be like me, wondering, what the heck is VSCO?  As is my nature, I immediately clicked the links, visited the website and downloaded VSCO to see what this photo app is all about.

VSCO, also called VSCO Cam, is a photography app where you can create an account and upload or take photos, edit and add filters, and share them with other VSCO users or on other social media sites.  The app was launched in 2012 by Visual Supply Company.  They also sell presets (collections of filters for editing) for use in photo editing software programs.

Is VSCO an Instagram replacement?

Probably not.  A key difference between VSCO and Instagram is that there is limited social interaction.  There are no “likes”, there is no commenting on photos.  VSCO seems to have a reputation for more “serious” photography enthusiasts.  The emphasis is on great looking photos and not how many likes or comments you can get. This is even part of the app description: “Because beautiful imagery trumps social clout, the number of followers, comments, and likes are absent from the platform”.

And that might be a reason that teens are starting to use VSCO.  Since my daughter uses this app I asked her what would make her want to share a photo to VSCO and not Instagram.  She mentioned that on VSCO, not as many people she knows will see it – perhaps giving her a bit more freedom to experiment with her photos, without judgement.

While there is no direction interaction within the app, you can easily share a photo from VSCO to other networks for that social commentary.  This can be done directly from the app using the app’s sharing options.  Or you can save the photo from VSCO to your phone’s photo library, then upload it to Instagram or anywhere else.  You can easily share someone else’s photo too – not just your own.  I actually did this by mistake – oops – and the originator of that photo did receive a notification (yep, my daughter).  Some use the app just to edit and use the filters, then share to other social networks such as Instagram.  This was readily observed during an Instagram search for the hashtag #vsco – 72,817,000 posts! And 109,909,984 tagged with #vscocam.

How to be Vsco Girl ?

What Is VSCO Girl?

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.

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