Experts in digital safety
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?
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?
Why is BeReal so popular?
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.
Is BeReal safe for teens to use?
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.
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
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.