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BeReal: everything you need to know about the social media platform

 

What is BeReal?

BeReal is an image sharing app – letting users post their own photos and see posts from others. You might not have heard about BeReal until recently, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. It boasts millions of users, many being teenagers. 

As its name suggests, BeReal promises a more ‘authentic’ and realistic social media experience compared to other platforms. 

Users can’t edit photos, and there’s a huge emphasis on posting ‘in the moment’. As a result, the app has been coined ‘anti-Instagram’. 

How does it work? 

BeReal prompts users to create posts within a specific two-minute window each day and this timeframe is always randomised. You can both post outside this window and retake photos but the app lets other users know if you do. 

Pictures are taken using both the front- and rear-facing cameras simultaneously. Because users can’t see what images both cameras are capturing it’s difficult to ‘stage’ posts perfectly. 

Users are also unable to view daily posts from others until they’ve uploaded one themselves that day. 

This is all meant to keep posts spontaneous and genuine, as users upload photos of what they’re up to (and what they look like) irrespective of whether they’re doing the washing up, out socialising, or have just got out of bed. 

Why is it popular?

Certain social platforms can feature exaggerated, rehearsed, and unrealistic depictions of everyday life, and this can negatively affect the self-esteem of some users.

BeReal aspires to challenge this trend, letting users share (and importantly, see) content in a way that’s less pressurising compared to other platforms.

Less ‘FOMO’

Posts on BeReal – including those belonging to friends – can show off ‘everyday’ activities rather than constant holidays or get-togethers. In this sense, the app might decrease ‘fear of missing out’ (‘FOMO’) for some users, especially compared with other platforms. 

There may, however, be FOMO issues surrounding the limited daily posting window (more below).

Realistic portrayals of life

There’s not a lot of time to prepare and pose (and there’s zero ability to edit) in BeReal’s two-minute window. Because of this, people are typically going to appear more natural.

Not competing with a constant flow of perfect or unrealistic depictions of life can be good for those who sometimes feel self-conscious or anxious.

What are the risks?

BeReal’s terms of use state the app is for ages 13+. The age verification process, however, is easy to get around, so bear this in mind with younger children.

Although BeReal offers users suggestions for people they might already know, the ‘Discovery’ tab lets them view posts from strangers. User locations are also shared alongside posts by default.

Oversharing

BeReal’s narrow time frame in which to take a photo means posting is likely to be more rushed than on other platforms. Due to this, users might think less about what information they’re sharing online.

Alongside the risk of oversharing personal details, it may also be possible to determine a user’s everyday routines – including what area they live in or where they socialise.

If your child uses BeReal, you might be able to discuss some basic safety considerations, such as: 

  • which kinds of images aren’t suitable for posting. This includes things like school uniforms, street addresses, or other information you may not want to share with strangers.

  • to take a moment before posting. Despite the two-minute window it’s important children don’t feel pressure to share, and that they’re happy with their photos and what they depict. 

Safety settings and functions

Accounts are private by default and this means that posts are only visible to friends and that a user’s feed only features posts from friends. Selecting ‘Discovery’ rather than ‘My Friends Only’ before sending a post will make the photo (and your feed) public.

If you’re concerned about what your child might unintentionally share, help them keep their account private by reminding them to only post to ‘My Friends Only’ rather than the ‘Discovery’ option. 

Friends can be removed by tapping the ‘x’ on the ‘Friends’ tab. Once this is done the deleted user can’t see your private posts. 

Upsetting or offensive content can be reported by selecting a photo’s settings and then tapping ‘Report’. When it comes to blocking accounts this is only possible (currently) on Android devices, not iOS.

To stop your location being shared, the location services on the settings of the actual device need deactivating. Once done you can choose whether to share your location before a post. 

What else do parents need to know?

While BeReal offers a novel and authentic take on social media, there are still some things to consider before letting a teen use the app.

Despite the focus on natural and unedited posting, pressure to entertain or to be doing ‘something cool’ can persist. 

And although BeReal could reduce FOMO in some users, the two-minute window can create other similar worries about not posting on time, or posting something too boring. Because the window can occur at any time during the day, children might be incentivised to use their phone during school or study time.

You could advise your child that they have control over if and when they post, and that missing the deadline isn’t the end of the world.

‘Being real’ shouldn’t be seen as totally important for young people either. Other ‘less natural’ platforms have benefits, and creatively curating and editing posts is a way to express yourself online. 

Finally, whether it’s the pros and cons of ‘being real’ online or the importance of not oversharing information, open discussion is always the best way to ensure that your child comes to you with any questions or problems they’re having. 


Further reading:

Social media: a parent’s guide