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What parents need to know about BeReal, Gen Z’s favorite social media app

No filters. No retouching. BeReal is a new app making waves among Gen Z

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Customer Chiara Valenzano takes pictures of her dishes as she has lunch at This Is Not a Sushi Bar in Milan, Italy.

Customer Chiara Valenzano takes pictures of her dishes as she has lunch at This Is Not a Sushi Bar restaurant, in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. On the BeReal app, you post one authentic photo a day, everything from lying in bed to making dinner.

Luca Bruno, Associated Press

A new app is in town and it hopes to shift users away from the hyper-manicured and overproduced world of social media to the authentic.

Founded by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat in January 2020, BeReal, a photo posting app, has already made waves among members of Generation Z.

Case in point: year to date, BeReal’s monthly active users have grown by 315%, with 65% of lifetime downloads within this calendar year, according to Apptopia.

So, what is BeReal?

The French app has been pitched as an “authentic, unfiltered alternative to the curated posts on Instagram and TikTok,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s how it works: Once a day, the app sends you a notification, telling you to post your BeReal for the day — a photo of whatever you’re doing at the time, whether it's lying in bed or making dinner.

You only have two minutes to prepare. When you take the photo, it’s going to capture from the front- and back-facing camera at the same time.

No filters. No retouching. Retakes are allowed but everyone can see that you retook the image.

There is also a map users can view to discover other publicly posted BeReals. But be careful — every time you view someone else's photo, you have to post your own.

Each posted image can be shared on the global feed or only with friends. The app is available to download on iPhones and Androids.

Wired’s service writer Reece Rogers even pegged the app as “well-designed and easy to pick up.”

Why is BeReal becoming popular?

The notions of a curated feed are replaced with an “unfiltered vibe,” which is creating room for something like BeReal.

The app’s own description warns potential users: “If you want to become an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”

College students seem to be the demographic. Meredith Mueller, a journalism student at the University of Kansas, downloaded the app a few weeks ago.

“I downloaded it, typed my information in and then it came up with all my contacts with people that already had this,” Mueller said, per NBC News.

“And I was like, how have I never heard of this and all these people in my contacts already have this?”

Instagram, Facebook and even Snapchat courted users with promises of more intimate and genuine ways of connecting online, and eventually, those promises wore off.

BeReal is the No.1 free app on the Apple app store.

What do parents need to know about BeReal?

In conversation with Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist, ABC affiliate KABC reported that BeReal has its upsides and downsides.

“Any social media app that promotes authenticity and also limits the time that you’re on, in my opinion, is one that’s valuable,” said Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist.

You can silence the notifications but the experience can still be strange at times.

“When a child is engaging in a new app, it’s a teachable moment to remind them of your own family rules about social media and engage with them together,” Taylor added.

Parents should also be aware of the type of content their children are posting and viewing.