Oct 18, 2022

Is BeReal safe for kids? App Safety Guide for parents

Qustodio team

Qustodio team

Experts in digital safety

Is the BeReal app safe for kids?

Hands up, who’s feeling a little overwhelmed by social media these days? Judging by the recent growth in popularity of the BeReal app across colleges in the US, we’re sure you’re not the only one with your hand in the air right now. While technically a form of social media, the app’s name reveals why fatigued social media fans are flocking towards it: BeReal offers a more authentic, filter-free experience in a world driven by heavy editing, hashtags, and influencers.

Although it was launched in 2020, BeReal has recently soared up the app rankings, with a user increase of over 29,000% in the last year. And while this new form of social media is currently most popular among Gen Z, it’s safe to say that others will follow in their footsteps – especially the younger generation. So, is BeReal safe for kids? Here’s everything parents need to know about this new form of social media.

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a social photo sharing app with a twist. Each day, at a random time, the BeReal app prompts you and your friends to take a picture of what you’re doing, and upload it to your feed. When taking a picture, both the regular camera and the front-facing camera are snapped, meaning that along with whatever you’re doing, BeReal also captures a selfie of you “enjoying” the moment. 

Once you’ve uploaded the daily snap to the feed, your friends can comment, see where you are in the world using the map feature, and react to the photo using “RealMojis”. There’s also an option to upload the picture to the public feed, where users can’t comment, but they can leave RealMoji reactions. In order to access the feed, whether public or just friends’ photos, you have to take your own picture, too. No upload – no scrolling. 

How old do you have to be to use BeReal?

Apple: 12+

Android: Teen (content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up)

BeReal terms & conditions state that “BeReal is open to users over the age of 13 only”.

Why is BeReal so popular?

The daily BeReal notification could come in at any point, meaning you’re forced to snap a shot of your study notebook, the afternoon snack you’re preparing, or even the back of the bathroom door (here’s hoping you’re never that caught out). While in theory, there’s nothing exciting about people’s coffee cups or long division, that’s what the BeReal app is about – capturing normal daily life. The daily BeReal snap could be a window into the run-of-the-mill routine activities, or more the more exciting side of life if caught at the right moment. 

Despite their young age, many teens are still experiencing the same social media fatigue we’re all feeling, and in some cases, the consequences are harmful. Facebook’s very own internal research revealed that Instagram has a negative impact on teen’s mental health, with its young users blaming the app for increases in anxiety, depression, and a negative impact on body image. Faced with this, it stands to reason that even younger children may be looking elsewhere for their social media fix – with apps that encourage them to be more positive and to embrace “real” life. 

What is the BeReal app

Is BeReal safe for teens to use?

When compared to other social media platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, the concept of BeReal almost sounds refreshing – encouraging people to enjoy real life, and who they are. Users on BeReal aren’t interested in collecting thousands of followers, or becoming a brand influencer. 

In addition, trolling, doxxing, and other forms of negative behavior often experienced on social media are potentially less frequent. As you can’t even view other people’s posts until you’ve uploaded your own, lurking in the shadows isn’t an option. The endless scroll of social media even becomes more complicated – with all your friends uploading pictures at the same time, it’s easier to avoid falling into the trap of the endless scroll, opening BeReal whenever you feel bored. 

While the typical red flags of social media seem to be half-masted through BeReal’s design, there are still other risks that users, particularly younger ones, need to be aware of. Data collection on social media apps can make users vulnerable, and while the app’s privacy policy states it does not share data with third parties, this could change if it grows in popularity and is sold to another company with different policies. 

It’s also important to consider the concept of the app with children in mind. While the BeReal app is designed for friendship circles, you can still post your daily shots to the public feed – meaning anyone can see who you are, where you are, and what you like doing. Offering daily snapshots into your kid’s real life could make it easier for others to figure out their routines and behaviors, building a fairly accurate profile of who the person is behind the profile. 

How to make BeReal safer to use

On the surface, BeReal seems like a new take on the typical social media platforms, trying its best to avoid the common pitfalls of negative self image, online bullying, and toxic influencer culture. For adults and children alike, the app could be a “healthier” way to enjoy social media sharing – keeping up with what friends and family are doing, and engaging with them in their daily lives.

However, as with any social media platform, it’s important for children to understand the dangers that come with posting online. If your child does want to download and use BeReal, keep these safety tips in mind before setting up a profile:

  • Make BeReal private. BeReal pictures are already “private” by default, but the option exists for them to be shared in the “Discovery” timeline when posting. When setting the app up with your teen, follow the steps together and show them never to select this option.  
  • Make sure their location settings are set to “off”. When sharing a picture, BeReal gives you the option to share the current location, or turn location sharing off. Ensure your teen knows how to toggle to the second when uploading their picture.
  • Encourage your child never to share any personal or revealing information, including their full name, phone number, address, or where they go to school. 
  • Have regular conversations with your kids about social media etiquette and good digital citizenship – including being kind in comments, whether on or offline!
  • Remind your child that whatever they post online is a reflection of who they are – photos or posts can be taken out of context, so it’s important to leave behind positive digital footprints. 
  • Set guidelines for social media use, whatever the app might be, including who they can accept friend requests from, how long they should be using social media for, and what they should do if they ever feel uncomfortable online. Your rules and guidelines should help empower them to use social media responsibly, while enjoying it at the same time. 

Can you delete a BeReal? 

If you or your teen is concerned about something that they’ve uploaded in a BeReal picture, there is an option to delete your post. However, this feature can only be used once a day, so make your choice of shot carefully with the second attempt. 

To delete a BeReal, click the three small dots that appear below the posted picture

Tap Options > Delete my BeReal. 

On a second attempt, the option will show as Not available.

Can you block someone on BeReal?

With the recent huge surge in BeReal users, receiving a friend request from someone who later turns out not to be a real-life acquaintance is likely to happen at some point. 

To block a user on BeReal: 

  • Head to the user’s profile
  • Click the three dots in the top corner
  • Select the block option

You can also use the same process to report a user posting inappropriate content, by selecting “Report @username” instead.

Qustodio’s final advice on BeReal

Time will tell if it’s really here to stay, but overall, we’d consider BeReal to be just like any social media application, especially when it comes to children. While it does attempt to remove some of the more toxic aspects of social media, it’s still a place for children to share glimpses into their personal lives online, which they need to understand and manage appropriately. Even if BeReal is just a passing fad, social media certainly isn’t. Set your child up to succeed with the right guidance, allowing them (and you!) to focus on the positive aspects social media can bring, rather than just the negatives.

How can Qustodio help protect your family?

Qustodio is the best way to keep your kids safe online and help them create healthy digital habits. Our parental control tools ensure they don't access inappropriate content or spend too much time in front of their screens.