The Social Media App Every Parent Needs to Know About But Has Never Heard Of

When it comes to social media apps, don’t blink, or you’ll miss the newest trend. This week’s star is BeReal, an app that has become known as the anti-Instagram, eschewing preening and posing for unfiltered reality. As the name indicates, the makers of the new app just want us to “be real.” 

Sales of the app, which began two years ago in France, have soared over the last few months, and it has become wildly popular among college students and 20-somethings. Even a plethora of technical glitches didn’t keep it from nabbing the top spot in the App Store for three days running last week.

BeReal prompts members to take one photo daily and post it within two minutes. (@jenya.masich via Twenty20)

BeReal prompts members to take one photo a day

On BeReal, people post once a day when prompted by a notification instructing them that it’s “Time to BeReal,” bracketed by two yellow warning sign emojis ⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️. With a single click, the app takes two photos, one from the main camera and one from the selfie camera. 

The resulting image is meant to be posted within two minutes and can be captioned but cannot be edited or filtered. Old images are replaced by new ones the following day. And you choose your followers, so the audience for your posts is hand-picked.

You can retake your image, but your followers will know how many times you have retaken an image. Any image posted outside of the two-minute time frame will bear the ignominious label of “late.” In addition, a user cannot see anyone else’s images until they upload their own. 

I first learned of the app when my twenty-one-year-old son stopped by for a brief dinner and was prompted by BeReal to take a picture while chewing his fully-loaded hamburger. As I started sermonizing on phone usage during mealtime, he explained that he had just joined BeReal and it required immediate action and ‘no’ it could not wait until after dinner. 

Most of our members said they enjoyed using the app

The app pitches itself as “A new and unique way to discover who your friends are in their daily life.” When I asked the 250,000 members of Grown and Flown Parents, they gave mostly positive responses laced with some concern like Beth, who said,

Both of my college-aged girls really like it. Take a picture of whatever you are doing at that moment. No time to fake it up. I could see where it could lead to some inappropriate pictures but you control who sees your account.

BUT, as a high school teacher, I can see this causing problems in class. Especially when we already have such problems with cell phone usage at school.


But can we really be real here for a moment??? I’m all about truth-telling, but doesn’t reality lie somewhere between curation and surprise? Catch me off guard; the illusion is that you get the real me, but what is the value of catching my son with ketchup dripping down his face? (And by the way, his hair was an unmitigated disaster.) 

I’m not touting any one social media channel over another, but if it’s authenticity we are in hot pursuit of, should we not allow a poster to mediate what feels authentic to them? What is closest to my truth — a random 4 pm response to an automatic prompt to click or the images I choose to share when I choose to share them? 

BeReal is “a candid and fun place for people to share their lives with friends,” the company said.

We want to make people feel good about themselves and their lives. We want an alternative to addictive social networks fueling social comparison and portraying life with the goal of amassing influence.


Is BeReal a fad, or will it soon be gone? Time will tell. 

Watch this hysterical reel on making of a BeReal

More Great Reading:

New Study Says Social Media Use Does Not Raise Teen’s Risk of Depression

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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