Child Safety Online
November 18, 2022

A parent’s guide to BeReal

BeReal is a photo-sharing app meant to encourage users to be more “authentic.” Here’s what parents need to know about this new social platform.

There’s a new photo-sharing social media platform on the scene. Maybe you’ve heard of BeReal? If not, keep reading to find out more about this repackaged form of social media. It was launched in 2020, and its goal was to take away the ability to post only the very best version of your life. Read on to find out how BeReal attempts to connect friends without the unintended negative side effects of other social media platforms.

What Is BeReal and How Does It Work?

BeReal is an app that is designed to connect you and your friends, showcasing a more authentic version of you. Here’s how they try and do that: Each day, a notification is sent from the app letting you know that it’s time to “BeReal.” You then have two minutes to take a picture and share it. This alert can happen at any point throughout the day, it’s never at the same time and everyone gets the notification at the same time (depending on their time zone). The app will take a photo with both cameras (front and back) taking a selfie and a quick snapshot of what you’re doing in that moment.

Unlike other photo-sharing apps, BeReal has no filters or editing options, and users can post just one time each day. The app allows you to retake your photo if you’re unhappy with it and you can also post late, but BeReal will let others know. Some people still choose to retake photos or post late, which allows them to get around the idea of authenticity and still do a little curating of their life. On BeReal you can see and interact with what your friends and others have posted only after you share. This reduces the tendency for “lurking,” since users can post only once per day.

Is BeReal Safe For Kids?

Any app where users can share images of themselves and their lives with the public can pose a risk to younger users. Apple has rated BeReal 12+ and The Google Play Store has it rated as Teen.

Once you’ve downloaded the app and posted your first BeReal, you can search for friends using their usernames if they’ve already downloaded the app. If you allow BeReal access to your contacts on your phone, the app will also let you know who in your contact list is already on the platform.

There is the potential for kids to interact with strangers, which is something parents should be aware of. Any user can scroll through the “Discovery” feed (basically the publicly shared posts) and tap on a person’s picture to add them to their friends list. While there is no private messaging function in BeReal, users can leave public comments on each other’s photos.

What Parents Should Know About BeReal?

When BeReal is first downloaded, the app collects personal information like your name, birthday and phone number. It will also have access to your device’s camera. And, location data is on by default, but you do have the option to disable it. Leaving it on means that anyone can see where you are when you post using a map function, so parents are well advised to turn this feature off for kids.

The option does exist to post publicly using the “Discovery” timeline, allowing anyone on BeReal to see what your child is posting. Putting time aside to download and set up your child’s BeReal profile together can open up a conversation about sharing privately with friends only. This can also be an opportunity to discuss what is and is not appropriate to share.

Another thing that makes BeReal stand out from other social media platforms is the ability to use your own face to share a reaction to your friends’ posts, rather than “liking” them. This is called a “Realmoji.” You can also comment on your friends’ posts. Taking time to talk about being kind in comments is important and can help kids learn about digital citizenry.

BeReal’s goal is to connect people with their friends in a more authentic way, while also reducing the negative effects of spending too much time on social media. Don’t forget, though, that connecting to others in person is also important. For more ideas on ways to encourage this, check out this link.

Editorial credit: FellowNeko / Shutterstock.com

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