700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Popular Apps for Teens: Balancing Authenticity and Safety

Aug 15, 2022
teens looking at their phones

Technology is integrated into teens’ lives. New, popular apps encourage young people to be authentic, but they may be putting their safety in the balance. It’s important for teens to feel seen and heard for who they are, and adults can help keep them safe by putting boundaries on the information that they share.

What is BeReal?

BeReal was created in 2020 and is advertised as “an authentic, spontaneous, and candid social network.” This photo sharing app sends its users a notification at a different time each day and gives them a two-minute notice to capture a photo. The app also incorporates a special camera designed to take both a selfie and a frontal photo simultaneously which enables users to capture them and the scene around them.

BeReal but Be Safe

BeReal encourages authenticity over filters and perfection like many other social media apps. With the two-minute window, users do not have enough time to change their appearance in order to fit society’s expectations.

While the app does stimulate genuine interactions, there is still a lot of social pressure to respond immediately to the daily notification. These daily photos can inadvertently reveal sensitive information. Anyone can see where you are and what you’re doing.

What is Dispo?

The app Dispo, a play on the nostalgic disposable camera, was created in 2019, and encourages its users to take and post authentic photos. Users are unable to see the images they take until they are “developed” the next day and cannot alter or edit the content. Users cannot be edited or altered. Photos can also be organized into “film rolls” which are organized by theme and are made public. Dispo also doesn’t have a messaging option, but does allow comments on photos.

Dispo Positives and Potential Dangers

Dispo encourages real, unedited images which eliminates any shallow or fake aesthetics as seen on other apps. It simplifies photo taking and at the same time, there is no real way to make your account totally private. Anyone can view another user’s profile, public photos, or read their bio without following them. Also, if your roll was made public, then anyone would have access to your images which may include sensitive or identifying information.

What is Snapchat’s Snap Map?

Many apps have location services. One of these is the popular app, Snapchat. In 2017, Snapchat implemented Snap Map, which is a feature that displays your location to others who have added you. You can also change the settings to only share your location with select individuals or everyone who has added you.

The Location Generation

Anyone on Snapchat can post a story for a specific location, which can help others share information or updates during a crisis or event near you. It also can help young people keep an eye on friends to make sure they got home safely. These same features can post a safety threat by showing your exact location, including buildings and street names.

How Can Adults Prepare Youth to Navigate These Apps?

  • Communicate about family values related to social media, including location services. It can be confusing for teens to set limits on location access with friends if their parents monitor their digital location for safety. It’s important to talk about healthy boundaries.
  • Check out the apps that your teen loves. You can download your teen’s favorite app or visit Common Sense Media to learn more.
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
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Featured Expert

Caitlin Tully
Caitlin Tully
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Alena Schuckmann
Alena Schuckmann
The Center for Family Safety and Healing

Alena Schuckmann is the Digital Communications Specialist for The Center for Family Safety and Healing. Alena graduated with a degree in communications and a minor in art from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. Alena is a skilled digital content creator who has had various articles and photographs published locally and nationwide.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.