Is the New “Unfiltered” Social App BeReal Child-Friendly?

With the rise of social media apps, it’s important to question, ‘Is BeReal Child-Friendly?’ This new platform provides an alternative to the staged lives showcased by influencers on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Remember when everyone first joined Facebook, and the most controversial posts were those of people’s lunches? Perhaps the most crucial component of early social media was the lack of fear of missing out (FOMO), as there was no news in the newsfeed, no advertisements trying to sell you anything, and so on. There was a dramatic increase in FOMO and anxiety, and despair among people of all ages once users began using filters on images and producing idealized versions of their experiences that promoted likes, shares, and comments from anyone.

Many parents can understand how their children’s mental and emotional health might be badly affected when they compare themselves to their peers and even strangers online, as has been claimed by a steady stream of experts on news programs who claim that social media is fueling a mental health crisis in the United States. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology conducted a study in which 143 college students were monitored while they spent no more than 30 minutes each day on social media. Surprisingly, researchers found that users’ loneliness and despair decreased along with their time spent on social media platforms.

But in a world where social media might feel like the only way to communicate with others, how can we strike a balance between maintaining our apps and avoiding mental and emotional health issues? This appears to be the central question posed by the recently released software BeReal.

BeReal is a new social media app that aims to establish rules that would make its members more genuine. BeReal was released in 2019, but its popularity increased by 315 percent in 2022 thanks to a strategic marketing initiative in which the app’s developers established a college ambassador program to recruit new users. But how does BeReal work, and is it safe for youngsters to use?

Everything guardians need to know is right here.

What is BeReal?

The photo-sharing BeReal app wants to be the antithesis of a curated social media persona. French app creator Alexis Barreyat launched it in 2020 after coming up with the idea in 2019. However, the app does something novel: it eliminates many of the functions that have come to be taken for granted in social network photo-sharing apps, such as filters and editing. BeReal stops branding and audience building, so social media stays as real as possible. This is in opposition to platforms like Instagram and Facebook, which are based on the idea of branding an individual to get a big following.

The BeReal App: How Does It Work?

The app’s principles are brilliant, and they could usher in a new era of social media in which carefully crafted, carefully edited versions of reality become obsolete. Here are the rules that all BeReal app users must abide by:

  • Filters have been disabled.
  • Users get two minutes to take a picture.
  • The two-minute timer always shifts, giving users a sense of spontaneity and making it impossible to stage images.
  • Users in the same region are given the same window of two minutes.
  • For other users to get a true feel for what the creator is going through at the moment, the app utilizes the phone’s camera to take a photo that faces both forward and inward.

Users can take another shot and upload it up to two hours later if they are unhappy with the first. The BeReal app, however, will stamp that picture with a delayed stamp to let other users know it was a redo. For security reasons, only friends of the individual who uploaded the photo will be able to see it.

What About the Security Of BeReal?

My son is a tween, and he has been begging me for his own social networking platform, so the idea behind the BeReal app really appeals to me. As genuine interactions become increasingly rare online, BeReal provides a welcome counterpoint to the often sad content found on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Yet, is it?

The BeReal app is worth checking out if you’re concerned about your mental health because it doesn’t prioritize vanity metrics like the number of likes, shares, or comments. There is no way to count accounts or compare them objectively.

BeReal stated its mission to CNN as “an alternative to addictive social networks” by providing users with a platform to be themselves without fear of judgment. If you want to become an influencer, stick to TikTok and Instagram; BeReal won’t get you there.

When Should Children Start Using the BeReal App?

BeReal is rated for users 12 and older, per the Apple App Store. Meanwhile, BeReal has a rating of T for Teen on the Google Play store. What, then, is the distinction?

The Entertainment Software Rating Team (ESRT) assigns ratings to apps based on a number of criteria. Here are some of them:

  • E for Everyone.
  • T for Teens or 13 years old and up.
  • E10+ Everyone 10 years old and up.
  • A for Adult.
  • M for Mature.

E10+ content is appropriate for children over the age of 10 and may feature “cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence,” as well as “mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes,” as defined by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

ESRT suggests that films rated T for Teen may feature “violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language,” all of which are more adult in nature.

When It Comes to Privacy, What Should Guardians Know About BeReal?

BeReal was developed in France. Therefore, the app’s privacy settings reflect that it processes user data in compliance with French legislation. Users of EU-based technology in France have access to the world’s most stringent personal data rules because France is a member of the European Union. In summary, BeReal has to make it clear on a simple chart in its privacy policy what data it gathers, how it uses that data, and for how long the app keeps that data.

The Key Point

The BeReal app is reassuring for parents because it is not like Instagram or Facebook in that it encourages unrealistic expectations of fame. No apparent in-app motivation exists to keep users engaged for long periods or to create healthy competition for likes and shares. Having genuine interactions and making real friends is the name of the game.

However, regardless of how secure an app may appear, it’s always a good idea for parents to download and experiment with it to get a feel for what their children are exposed to. Of course, it’s also crucial that parents and children regularly discuss internet safety and expectations about social media. BeReal’s goal of providing users with a genuine experience free of fear of missing out (FOMO) is admirable, but ensuring a good match and restricting social media’s impact are the only ways to ensure today’s youth’s mental and emotional well-being.

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