Would a child psychologist recommend BeReal for Kids?
There’s an argument that all social media should BE REAL.
With the quest to shoot the perfect selfie or present an idyllic lifestyle, at some point in time, we have all been tempted by the urge to ‘delete that and try again’ or add some sort of filter to enhance what gets shared.
But…What if there was a platform that negated the opportunity to ‘filter’ out elements of life and presented the real reality? These are the claims that BeReal makes.
For those not yet in the know (and you would be forgiven as the app only launched in 2020 and had a few million UK users as of Winter 2022), BeReal is a mobile-first app which sends users a notification at a random time during the day whereby there’s a two-minute window to post a photo. Profiles can be set to public or private, but are only seen by those who have posted also during that same day’s window. There’s no drama if you don’t post – users just miss out on seeing what their connections are up to – you won’t lose followers and the algorithm (at this point) won’t negatively affect your ability to be seen.
If you miss your two-minute window to take a photo you can still take a photo outside of it, but friends will be alerted to the fact that you did and therefore you weren’t perhaps at your ‘most real’.
Sounds too good to be true? Well currently at the time of writing, the app isn’t monetising itself and it is ad-free – so offering a safer environment for our young people online. If however, you’re letting your child explore the platform it’s important to be aware of the risks and the benefits so you can enjoy your online journey together.
Dr Amanda Gummer highlights a few ‘watch outs’ below:
- Be sure your child’s profile is set to private unless you are comfortable otherwise.
- If they have added a ‘friend’ or accepted a request from one, always be sure they are who they say they are – the purpose of the app is a good one as you can see in real-time the environments their friends and connections are in – the camera takes a front and back photo at the same time which is shared.
- Make sure your child knows their ‘friends’. Are these online friends only, have they met them before?
- There is of course always a risk of inappropriate pictures being shared, despite reporting functionality and sophisticated tech’, so always ensure your child understands the risks of being online and have an open dialogue with them about their accounts.
- Even with the dose of reality that BeReal brings there is the peer pressure of getting the ‘right’ snap and the possible anxiety that comes with it. What if your child misses their window to take a photo and feels the pressure not to have delivered? Be mindful of these ‘watch out’s and ensuing pinging notifications from their phones – the pursuit of making the photo on time can potentially be as damaging as getting that perfect shot.
- Of course as with all social platforms, always check the location settings and ensure they are aligned to what you are comfortable with and make sure your child knows the risks of sharing their exact location with a wide audience.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! – the app, super popular with GenZ crowds is sure to be reaching playgrounds faster than you can shoot a selfie, so why not embrace and enjoy a platform which supports individuality and life without a filter? Just as TikTok rose to immense popularity and brought entertainment to many families during lockdowns, BeReal can be, if used properly, a breath of fresh air as it cuts through the noise and questionable profiles on many platforms.
- Why not get yourself an account – and insist you connect with your whole family. If only to embarrass your kids, it’s a great way of having fun and seeing what they are up to!
- Remind them the point of the app – it’s coming from a place of fun, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to show them without make-up or not in the most insta-friendly setting – why not suggest they talk to their friends about the fun of taking the most unlikely social photos!
- Even more so, whilst taking photos and enjoying the chase of making the right snap on time, always talk to your children about what they managed to capture. Ask them to show you the funniest photos they have seen, or what made their friends laugh. Taking selfies together as the notifications come in also removes the secrecy of socials and will bring its own reality. Better to know what your child is doing online and support them to enjoy a healthy and playful time, rather than insisting they stay off completely due to the unknown.
- If you’re unsure about things or worry it’s another scary platform that you can’t police, then why not talk to other parents in your friendship group about BeReal, you might even suggest you jump on together and understand how it works in practice.
- Always be open, talk, and embrace the playful nature of BeReal and you and your children can have some real fun. Anything which helps you safely and playfully connect socially with your children and their network has to be a good thing.
As with any platform that captures data, always check in to the parental guidance and terms and conditions which are subject to change. Currently, BeReal is open to users 13 or over.