Like many Millennials, I’ve grown up watching my favorite social media platforms transform from harmless, unsophisticated software to alarmingly powerful, algorithm-run technology.
Naturally, my curiosity piqued when I heard about BeReal: the up-and-coming app that claimed to be more authentic than other social media platforms.
I’ve been a consistent user of the BeReal app for two months now. Here’s what I’ve learned about the app, how it works, and whether it’s safe for your child.
What Is the BeReal App?
The BeReal app was developed in France and released back in 2020. However, the app wasn’t met with widespread recognition until this year.
According to the app’s website, BeReal offers “a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.”
This is accomplished by capturing two images at the same time—one with your phone’s front-facing camera, the other with your phone’s rear-facing camera.
The catch? There are no filters, you only have two minutes to capture your images, and you don’t know when you’ll be able to capture your images.
How Does BeReal Work?
I didn’t understand how to use BeReal right away. It’s a simple app, but it was almost too simple.
(I guess that’s what happens when you’ve grown accustomed to frequent, complicated, and unnecessary updates across all other social media platforms!)
Here’s a broken-down explanation of how BeReal works:
- Every day, you’ll receive a random notification to post your “BeReal” (your images). Nobody knows what time this notification will come; that’s part of the fun!
- When you open the app, you won’t be able to see any of your friends’ BeReals. You have to share yours to unlock theirs!
- You’ll only have two minutes to capture your images. You’ll first capture what you’re doing with your rear-facing camera, then you’ll take a selfie with your front-facing camera. You can retake your images as many times as you’d like in those two minutes, but once they’re up, they’re up!
(You can delete a posted BeReal once per day and start the process over again, but it’s discouraged as it defeats the purpose of the app.)
- After you’ve posted your BeReal for the day, you can then see what your friends have posted. You can react to their BeReals with “RealMojis,” which are images of your face mimicking emojis like the “thumbs up” or “heart eyes” emojis. You can add comments, too!
- By the time your next BeReal notification pops up, you won’t be able to see the previous day’s RealMojis or comments on your BeReal. You also won’t be able to see your friends’ past BeReals. Your prior BeReals are saved to “Your Memories,” which is a calendar archive that stores all of your BeReals—and it’s only visible to you!
Honestly, that’s about it.
BeReal, in my opinion, is intentionally unexciting. Why? Because most of the time, our lives aren’t “Instagram-worthy!” We work, we raise our kids, we do laundry, and we watch TV. Most of us aren’t regularly embarking on exotic vacations, wearing matching outfits with our kids, or making gourmet meals. BeReal keeps it, well, real!
If I had to compare BeReal to one of the better-known social media platforms, it’s like a watered-down, ad-free version of Instagram. There are no stories, no videos, no messages, no suggested or sponsored posts—it’s just fun, no-filter pictures to share with your friends!
As far as I can tell, BeReal has more pros than cons. Here are lists of them both:
- The two-minute countdown on the camera forces you to be okay with the pictures you’ve taken. No more obsessing over getting the perfect shot!
- No filters on your images show you exactly as you are. Now that’s authenticity!
- After you snap your BeReal, you can add a caption. However, the length of your caption is limited. (I’m not sure what the BeReal reason for this is, but I bet it prevents users from overthinking what to write.)
- You can’t see your friends’ past posts. Goodbye, social media stalking!
- Once you’ve seen all your friends’ BeReals for the day, there’s nothing more to see there. You can’t keep scrolling into an endless feed of advertisements and suggested posts. The end is the end!
- There are no advertisements, algorithms, or public accounts on BeReal. You must be friends with people to see and interact with their daily BeReals.
- If you miss the BeReal notification to capture what you’re up to, never fear! You can post a late BeReal without a problem. In fact, you can post a late BeReal up until the next day’s notification is received.
- Because it’s such a simple platform, you’re unlikely to waste time on BeReal. Bid adieu to mindless scrolling!
- The platform is still new and developing, so it’s a little glitchy. I’ve been kicked out of the app in the middle of taking a picture more than once! (Which is pretty annoying considering the time limit and all.)
- While I consider the inability to view past posts a pro, this could easily be a con for others. For example: If you received a notification that a friend commented on your BeReal, but you weren’t able to see it before getting the prompt to post your next BeReal, you won’t get to see that comment.
- The notification settings are limited. Advanced notification settings aren’t really necessary with such a simple app, but my current hang-up with the app is getting notifications when my friends’ friends leave comments on BeReals I’ve commented on. You can either turn all comment notifications on or off, and since I want to know if my friends comment on my BeReals, I leave that notification on. I wish I could get notifications when my friends comment on my BeReals without being alerted every time my friends get comments from others, too!
- Unless you indicate otherwise within your phone’s location settings, BeReal shares your location with your posts. (I don’t mind this because only my most trusted friends can see my BeReals and they all know where I live and spend my time.)
- You can receive friend requests from people you don’t know. However, you have to accept friend requests before they can see your BeReals. Strangers may send friend requests, but they won’t be able to see anything without your approval.
- The top problem I take with BeReal? Their “Discovery” feed. This feed is full of random strangers from all around the world, and as of now, there is no way to hide that feed (though this may be updated in the future). While all BeReal accounts are private, you have the option to share any of your BeReals to this Discovery feed, meaning anybody can see that particular post.
I don’t really understand the purpose of the Discovery feed, because BeReal regularly reminds you anytime you add a friend how the platform is meant for true friends only. If that’s the case, then why am I being shown strangers’ posts? I just avoid the Discovery feed altogether because I fundamentally disagree with it—and I have no desire to see random shots of strangers’ lives—but for more curious users, this feature can quickly become an issue.
Is BeReal Safe for Kids?
BeReal is probably the safest social media platform when compared to all the alternatives.
That said, as far as your kids’ safety is concerned, it hasn’t quite reached 100% yet. But with a few minor tweaks, it could!
Between the unpredictable content that could pop up in the Discovery feed and the revealing location information, there are certainly some safety risks your child could be subjected to.
Plus, because it’s a bit buggy, who knows what additional, unexpected loopholes may prevent total privacy?
So, is BeReal safe for kids? Not right now.
With added security measures, who knows? That may change! But until then, BeReal is not available on Troomi phones.To learn more about the apps that are available on Troomi phones and our protocols for selecting and vetting these apps, click here!