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What is VSCO? And is it Safe for Kids?

Words by
Jackie Baucom

MAY 07, 2024

What is VSCO? And is it Safe for Kids?

From Instagram feeds curated to perfection, to Pinterest boards filled with dreamy landscapes, it’s clear that aesthetics reign supreme. The allure of visually pleasing content has become a driving force behind modern culture.

Amidst this digital landscape, VSCO emerges as a platform that capitalizes on our innate desire for aesthetic excellence. Let’s explore the world of VSCO and uncover the secrets behind its enduring popularity.

What is VSCO App?

VSCO, pronounced as “visco,” is both a photo-editing app and a social media platform. It has gained significant popularity among teens, particularly those who are interested in photography and creative expression.

What is VSCO Used For?

VSCO provides users with the tools they need to create visually stunning content.

The app offers a range of editing tools for enhancing photos and videos. From basic adjustments like brightness and contrast, to more advanced editing settings such as saturation or temperature controls, and even the ability to remove objects from photos using AI. 

VSCO has different areas that serve different functions:

Studio
A designated private area where users can import and store media for editing before sharing it on the platform. The level of access to presets and editing features depends on their membership.

Profile
Users can publicly share their photographs here. It’s visible to both VSCO users and those outside the platform.

Feed & Discover
The feed showcases photographs from other VSCO creators and collections the user follows. Discover is where users can explore and find new creators and collections to follow.

VSCO Spaces
A collaborative photo gallery among VSCO creators. It offers a platform for brainstorming ideas, exchanging inspiration, and connecting.

How Does VSCO Differ From Other Social Media Platforms?

VSCO does have a social media aspect to it. Users can follow each other, like and comment on photos and videos, and be notified of a friend’s latest creations. 

The app also allows users to share their VSCO created media to other platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok.

However, unlike traditional social media platforms, VSCO emphasizes creativity and aesthetic expression over likes and comments, fostering a supportive community of photographers and artists.

What Are VSCO Presets?

Presets are predefined configurations of photo editing adjustments that can be applied to images with a single click (similar to filters on other apps). Presets serve as templates created by professional photographers, influencers, or users themselves. These presets are designed to achieve specific aesthetic effects or styles, such as vintage, minimalism, black & white, or vibrant colors.

What is a VSCO Girl?

The term “VSCO girl” is used to describe a teenage girl whose style and aesthetic are influenced by VSCO. This typically involves a laid-back, beachy vibe, and preference for natural beauty and environmentally friendly products. 

teen girl VSCO girl

VSCO girls often use the app to create visually pleasing social media content, adhering to trends associated with a carefree lifestyle. 

VSCO Girl Lexicon

It’s common for teens to use slang terms when they speak. VSCO girls have some of their own expressions that reflect their laid-back, environmentally conscious lifestyle.

  • And I oop – This phrase, often accompanied by a quick inhalation, is used to express surprise or embarrassment.
  • Sksksksk – This expression represents laughter or excitement and is often typed repeatedly in chats and comments.
  • Save the turtles! – A rallying cry for environmental activism, VSCO girls advocate for reducing plastic waste and protecting marine life, particularly sea turtles.
  • Hydro flask – Hydro flasks, which are reusable water bottles known for their durability and vibrant colors, are a staple accessory for VSCO girls.
  • Vibing with nature – VSCO girls embrace a natural aesthetic, incorporating elements like plants, shells, and beach scenes into their photos and lifestyle.
  • Feeling that VSCO filter – VSCO girls appreciate the app’s editing tools and presets, often discussing their favorite filters and editing techniques.
  • Pura Vida – The Pura Vida lifestyle brand (now owned by Vera Bradley) popularized this phrase with their string bracelets, which are beloved by VSCO girls and inspired by Costa Rica’s slogan.

What is a VSCO Member?

While VSCO is free to download and use on a desktop or mobile device, there are optional paid VSCO memberships available for users who want to access additional features and content. 

A VSCO Plus membership ($29.99 per year) allows access to the full suite of presets, as well as advanced tools, collage templates, and GIF and video editing. The membership also lets users create their own VSCO Spaces — a shared gallery where friends can share feedback or collaborate.

The VSCO Pro membership ($59.99 per year) gives the user access to even more editing controls, as well as live chat support, and compatibility with the professional photo editing app, Adobe Lightroom.

What Parents Should Know

While VSCO promotes creativity and community, it’s not immune to risks. As with any online platform, parents should be aware of potential dangers, including cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and privacy concerns. VSCO does not currently offer any parental controls. 

Inappropriate Content

VSCO’s Community Guidelines prohibits content that features nudity, violence, harassment, the promotion of self-harm, and hateful conduct. However, not everyone follows the rules, and VSCO relies on users to report any violations.

teen girl taking a selfie

Additionally, VSCO’s anonymity feature, which allows users to create accounts without providing personal information, can facilitate anonymity-based harassment.

Direct Messaging

Users of the app can send direct messages to anyone they follow. For free VSCO users, there’s a cap on the number of conversations they can initiate daily with creators who don’t follow them back. VSCO members who subscribe to a paid membership have the ability to send unlimited messages to any user on the platform.

Public Accounts

All creator accounts on VSCO are public. VSCO says this is to deter inappropriate content and behaviors, and facilitate the quick removal of such content. But, this also means anyone can see your child’s pictures or send them messages. 

Kids can block other users, which prevents them from messaging, following, viewing content, or interacting with the child’s content — the person block is not notified of the block.

Take Steps to Protect Kids

If parents decide their child is ready to join VSCO, they can ensure a safe and positive experience for young users with these proactive measures:

  1. Open Communication: Establish open dialogue with your child about their online activities and encourage them to share any concerns or experiences they encounter on VSCO.
  2. Set Boundaries: Establish guidelines for app usage, including time limits and privacy settings. Monitor your child’s activity and address any inappropriate behavior promptly.
  3. Educate About Online Safety: Teach your child about the importance of protecting their personal information, recognizing cyberbullying, and reporting harmful content. Ensure teens create a username without identifying information and turn off location information on images.
  4. Lead by Example: Model responsible online behavior and engage with your child on VSCO to better understand their digital world.
mother and daughter smiling

VSCO presents an opportunity for young users to explore their creativity and connect with like-minded individuals. By understanding the platform’s features, associated culture, and potential risks, parents can guide their children towards safe and responsible usage. 

With open communication, clear boundaries, and ongoing education, parents can empower prepared teens to navigate VSCO confidently.

If you’re not confident your child is ready for VSCO, it’s probably best to wait. Good options now exist that allow kids to begin using digital technology and building online skills before they’re ready for their own social media accounts. 

Does anyone in your home use VSCO? What do you think of it? How does it compare to other photo editing apps? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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