New App Alert! BeReal is currently the fastest-growing app on both the charts and among teens. So what does this mean for us? Well, whether you’re a parent, teacher, or principal, you’re going to need the 411 on the latest social media app spreading like wildfire among teens and be aware of any potential dangers that might arise for your children and students
So what is BeReal, is it so different from other social media platforms as the creators claim, and why is it catching millions of teens’ attention all over the world?
Here’s your ultimate BeReal review and guide for parents, principals, and teachers — let’s dive in!
What is BeReal?
BeReal co-founder, Alexis Barreyat’s vision for the app was to create a space where people could foster genuine interactions online. And, unlike other social apps, connect with friends and family online.
Despite hitting the market back in 2020, BeReal only started to pick up some traction at the beginning of 2022. Now it’s heading into hyperdrive with a 29,200% increase in daily active users since 2021 with 2.93 million active users.
Declared GenZ’s favorite social media app, but also the most boring (in a good way), BeReal indicates that maybe teens are looking for a new and authentic digital social experience. They’re tired of the sensationalized and toxic environment found in other social apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
How does BeReal work?
Unlike other social platforms, BeReal has a rather restricted and unique structure. It all starts with a notification saying, “It’s time to BeReal”
At a random time each day, changing one day to the next, everyone in the same timezone receives a notification that it’s time to be real. When this happens, users have 2 minutes to take a photo of what they are doing in that instant — both back and front camera. All photos are unfiltered, unedited, and unscripted.
Within the 2 minutes, you can retake the photo as many times as you’d like. Though if you miss the 2-minute timer or you’re perhaps not near your phone or your phone is switched off, then your BeReal will be tagged as late for everyone to see. Your friends can also see how many times you retook your photo.
You can choose to publish your BeReal privately, for only your friends, or publicly for all BeReal users around the world to see. Only once you’ve published your BeReal for the day are you able to see the other on-the-spot selfies on both your private and public feeds. You can also react to your friends’ BeReals with a comment or a ‘RealMoji’ which is basically you taking a selfie with a face to match an emoji.
You can delete your BeReal, but only once a day. And before you do, you have to fill out a form specifying your reason with options ranging from “I don’t like my BeReal” to “Inappropriate content.” You also get a neat photo album of all your BeReals to reminisce — visible to only you.
BeReal has been carefully crafted to avoid the pitfalls of other social media apps that make them so dangerous and toxic to teens and even adults. So how exactly is BeReal so different from the rest? Why are teens starting to gravitate towards it and away from the other social apps?
What makes BeReal different?
- It’s friends, not followers: Instead of having different numbers for your followers and following, an easy point of comparison for teens, BeReal takes an approach similar to Facebook where you add friends with a mutual friend request.
- Follower count or the number of likes doesn’t matter: Teens can’t spend hours comparing and obsessing over followers and likes if both them and nobody else can see them — in fact, teens are preferring smaller and more exclusive friend circles on BeReal
- No more filters, edited images, or videos: Because your BeReal has to be taken on the spot through the BeReal app, it’s practically impossible to post anything that has been filtered or edited, only your true and authentic self.
- Significant social pressure to play by the rules: Even if you post 5 minutes late, your friends will notice, and a lot of teens are criticizing those late posters, claiming they aren’t ‘being real.’
- Encouragement from peers to be authentic and vulnerable: Different from the hyper-edited and glamourized Instagram, teens on BeReal celebrate seeing the real and genuine you — the more honest, the better.
- Little to no room to engage with strangers: Because there’s no private messaging function, as long as your account is private, there aren’t many ways that strangers can contact you or you could accidentally contact strangers.
- You can’t get sucked in for hours: BeReal happens only once a day, and after 10 minutes of scrolling through your friends’ posts until you’re bored, there’s not much more you can do — there’s no algorithm designed to suck you in for hours at a time.
What are the privacy settings?
In the spirit of ‘being real,’ BeReal doesn’t have many privacy settings or parental controls:
- Private account: When you create your BeReal account, it’s automatically private and ensures that only your chosen friends can see your content.
- Location: All your BeReals are automatically geotagged, which means that your friends (and strangers, if your post is on the Discover Page) can see the exact location of your BeReal the second you take it — you have to manually go switch off the location setting.
- Reporting: You can report any content that you find inappropriate.
- 13+ age restriction: BeReal asks each user their year of birth when signing up to ensure they are above the age restriction, but this is easily thwarted by determined tweens and children.
What are the potential dangers?
While BeReal’s privacy settings and parental controls are very limited compared to other social apps, maybe it’s because it’s designed in a way that you don’t need endless measures to protect teens from harm. But no app is completely innocent — let’s find out what dangers lie in the BeReal app for teens.
- Public posts: If your teen decides to post publicly on the Discover Page, anyone around the world can see whatever content they post.
- Information sharing: Not only is your location dangerous to share, but by posting every day, people may start to know your routine, like where you are at certain times during the day.
- Sharing your surroundings: Because BeReal uses both the front and back camera, if you aren’t very aware of your surroundings, you may share something that you don’t want others to see.
- Inappropriate content: Despite BeReal’s trusted content filter and reporting feature, there’s still a chance that inappropriate content could slip through.
- Phone attachment: Teens want to be ready for when it’s time to BeReal with the fear of being late, meaning they might want their phones on them at all times.
- Social implications: If a teen’s friend request isn’t accepted or they see that all their friends are together by the BeReal or location, and they weren’t invited, this could hurt their social identity.
BeReal review: Our final verdict for teens
BeReal has certainly given a convincing solution for a healthy and safe social media platform for teens to enjoy and explore. But that doesn’t mean that it’s immune to dangers on the internet.
We love the intention behind BeReal — a response to the current toxicity out there on social media with the aim of restoring social media’s fun, safe, and social environment. And we believe they did a pretty good job. However, it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and principals to guide teens to avoid any potential dangers and ensure it remains a fun, safe, and social environment for everyone.
Here’s what you can do:
- Talk to teens about the importance of remaining private online and the dangers of posting publicly.
- Teach them how to discern which friends to include in their exclusive circle.
- Ensure their location is switched off.
- Show them how to report any content they find inappropriate.
- Advise teens to be aware of their surroundings
- Remind them that BeReal is still just a social media app, it’s not the end of the world if they post late, it does not define their social identity, and connecting with friends IRL is still so much better.
BeReal is still considerably new. So while it’s currently one of the better social media apps for teens, it’s important to keep a close eye on how it grows and develops. It’s hard to say exactly how it will affect teens in the long run. But we hope that BeReal continues to be real itself and remains a fun, safe, and social space for teens online. Need help guiding teens on how to be safer and smarter online? Check out MySociaLife’s world-class programs on digital citizenship, media literacy, and online safety for students, parents, teachers, and counselors.
[Written by Havana Dauncey]