Is BeReal App safe for Kids?

Reshmita Das | January 09, 2023

BeReal is a social media app released in 2020 to promote authentic interactions. It has already gained popularity in the US and Europe and plans to expand to other markets, including India. Out of Apple's 3.6 billion apps, BeReal was chosen as the iPhone App of the Year in 2022. It allows users to share photos and features similar to those on Instagram and Snapchat. It can be downloaded for free from the Google Play and Apple App Store, and users need to provide their phone number to log in. BeReal has been well-received, with over 23 million active users and 100 million downloads since its launch. Its success has even inspired competitors, such as TikTok, to create similar app features.

How does BeReal App Work?

BeReal, a photo sharing app, differs from Instagram and Snapchat in several ways. For example, BeReal users can only post one photo per day, and the app's camera does not have filters. Additionally, the camera can take both a selfie and a frontal shot simultaneously, allowing users to see the photo's subject and the reaction of the person who took it. 

The novelty of the BeReal app is that it sends users a notification at a randomly determined time each day. Users must take a photo within two minutes when they receive this notification. The short time frame of this task encourages users to take funny or awkward pictures that capture their genuine selves. If the user does not post an image within two minutes, the image is labelled as "late," which can give the impression that the image is not genuine. Additionally, if the user does not post every day, they will not be able to see the posts of others in their friend circle. 

When users post an image on BeReal, it will appear on other users' timelines. The good part is the images are not permanently stored on the platform, and the original poster can view their past posts in their own timeline (called "memories" in the app). In addition, BeReal has a Discovery tab where users can view publicly posted photos. Other popular features of BeReal are Behind The Scenes (BTS), Friend Recommendations, Memories, BeReal Recap 2023, Pins, RealGroups and Streaks.

At the beginning of 2024, BeReal introduced a new feature “RealPeople & RealBrands” that might go against the app's original purpose. It's a feed dedicated to famous people, like top athletes, artists, and activists. Instead of just sharing daily photos with your friends, now you can see what these celebrities are doing. New accounts let companies such as Adidas and Glossier share supposedly "natural" moments with their followers.

Why are photo sharing apps like BeReal popular?

Some of the factors that contribute to the growing popularity of BeReal include:

  • Convenience: Photo sharing apps are convenient, allowing users to quickly and easily share photos with their friends and family from their smartphones or tablets.

  • Social connection: Photo sharing apps can help young people stay connected with their friends and family, even when they are not physically together.

  • Self-expression: Photo-sharing apps can be a platform for young people to express themselves and share their interests and hobbies with others.

  • Peer pressure: Some young people may feel pressure to use photo sharing apps to fit in with their peers and be part of the social group.

  • Entertainment: Photo sharing apps can be a source of entertainment for young people, as they can browse through and interact with content posted by their friends and other users.

Dangers of BeReal

  • BeReal uses both front and back cameras to capture images, and this raises privacy concerns due to the constant pressure to create and post content within a two-minute window. 

  • Users who do not post within this timeframe may be publicly called out for being late. 

  • The BeReal platform does not address the underlying issue of our society's desire for validation and engagement through social media, which can lead to a competitive environment where people feel the need to present a desirable image of themselves. 

Apart from the above specific drawbacks of the BeReal platform, it shares some of the general dangers of social media and photo sharing apps, especially among children and youngsters:

  • Risk of cyberbullying: People, especially children, may be more vulnerable to cyberbullying on photo sharing apps, as images and comments can be shared widely and quickly and can be difficult to remove once they have been posted.

  • Loss of privacy: Photo-sharing apps often involve sharing personal images and information, which can compromise a child's privacy.

  • Risk of sexual exploitation: There is a risk that children and young people may be targeted for sexual exploitation on photo sharing apps, as perpetrators may use the app to lure victims or to distribute sexually explicit images.

  • Risk of identity theft: Photo-sharing apps may also be used by perpetrators to gather personal information about children and youth, which can be used for identity theft.

  • Addiction: People, especially children, may become addicted to photo sharing apps and may spend excessive amounts of time on them, potentially leading to negative impacts on their social interactions, education, and overall well-being.

It is essential for young people to be aware of these risks and to use photo sharing apps safely and responsibly. This may include setting privacy settings, being cautious about what is shared, and seeking help if they are being bullied or exploited online.

Age Rating of BeReal App

  • App Store -12+

  • Play Store - Teens

  • Common Sense Media - 13+

How to protect children and youngsters from the dangers of apps like BeReal?

Here are some steps you can take to help keep your children and young ones safe in photo sharing and social media apps:

  • Educate your children about online safety: Help them understand the risks of sharing personal information and images online and teach them how to protect their privacy.

  • Set limits on app usage: Set limits on how much time your children can spend on photo sharing and social media apps. Encourage them to balance their online activities with other hobbies and interests. Apps like Mobicip can help maintain parental control.

  • Monitor your children's online activities: Consider using parental controls software to monitor your children's online activities and block inappropriate content.

  • Encourage open communication: Encourage your children to talk to you if they encounter problems or concerns while using photo sharing or social media apps.

  • Set privacy settings: Help your children set privacy settings on their accounts to limit who can see their posts and personal information.

  • Teach your children to think before they share: Encourage them to think carefully before sharing any personal information or images online, and remind them that once something is posted online, it can be difficult to remove.

Other common-sense ways to maintain safety and security by using apps as BeReal include:

  • Set limits on your app usage: It is important to set limits on how much time you spend on photo sharing apps and to balance your online activities with other hobbies and interests.

  • Be mindful of the content you consume: Be aware of the content you consume on photo-sharing apps, and try to focus on uplifting and positive content.

  • Use the app for positive self-expression: Share positive and authentic images and experiences rather than use it as a tool for comparison or competition.

  • Take breaks from the app: Take regular time-offs to give yourself time to disconnect and engage in other activities.

  • Seek support if needed: If you find that you are struggling with depression or other mental health issues, seek help from a mental health professional or a trusted friend or family member.

BeReal promises to expose your authentic self. While it is okay to be your authentic self, it is also necessary to be aware of the potential consequences of sharing personal information online.  

How can Mobicip help you?

At Mobicip, we can protect you and your family from the ill effects of apps like BeReal. Some of the benefits of using Mobicip include:

  • Protecting children from inappropriate content: Mobicip allows parents to block access to inappropriate websites and apps, helping to protect children from exposure to harmful or inappropriate content.

  • Setting limits on app usage: Mobicip allows parents to limit the amount of time their children can spend on specific apps or websites, helping to prevent excessive screen time.

  • Monitoring online activities: Mobicip provides parents with detailed reports on their children's online activities, including the websites and apps they use and the amount of time they spend on them.

  • Encouraging responsible online behavior: By using Mobicip, parents can help teach their children responsible online behavior and encourage them to make safe and appropriate choices when using the internet.

To summarize, it is important to be mindful of the safety risks associated with photo sharing apps. Be sure to consider the privacy settings on your account carefully and the app itself, and only share photos with people you trust. It is also a good idea to be cautious about the information you include in your photos' captions or tags, as this can reveal personal details about your location or daily activities. Finally, remember to regularly review the permissions you have granted to the app and revoke any that you are no longer comfortable with. Following these guidelines can help protect yourself and your personal information while enjoying the benefits of photo sharing apps.

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