What happens when BeReal’s bell rings during class?
If you swipe over to the “Discover” tab of BeReal — the photo-sharing app that asks users to share unfiltered photos once a day — you can see strangers’ public posts. Chances are, if you look, you will find teen after teen at school or in the classroom. This is reported by the consumer data platform data.aimore than 40% of BeReal’s iPhone user base aged 12 and over in the United States is between the ages of 16 and 24.
BeReal first gained attention on college campuses in early 2022 and has since become extremely popular. According to data.aithe photo-sharing app surpassed 10 million downloads in May 2022. By the time class resumed for the 2022-2023 school year, BeReal had solidified itself in the social media ecosystem and became so mainstream that Saturday Night Live made a sketch of it.
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But the app wasn’t immediately on most high school teachers’ radars. “We have teacher meetings at the beginning of the year, but they weren’t like ‘here’s the cell phone policy, make sure you pay attention to BeReal, because kids are really going to be distracted by this notification,'” the 30-year-old shared. old Andrew Koons, a high school science teacher in Vienna, Virginia. “Most of my colleagues are older than me, and they don’t think about that.”
BeReal is designed to be more authentic than traditional social media, although whether it is real is is under discussion. It sends a push notification once a day and gives users two minutes to post one photo of themselves and what they’re doing, using their phone’s front and back cameras. While you can post after the two-minute window, you can’t view other people’s posts until you post, and the app advertises what time you took your BeReal.
The pressure to post your BeReal on time presents a unique challenge for teachers whose students want to use the app as intended. Because the notification goes off at a different time every day, it is also a game of chance. Natasha Lelchuk, a 29-year-old who teaches ninth and tenth grade English in South El Monte, California, has been lucky so far. “[BeReal] was not particularly disturbing. I also have BeReal on my phone and I haven’t seen the notification go off very often during the school day,” Lelchuk tells Mashable. “I don’t see kids constantly pulling out their phones to take a BeReal.” the class, but that varies from teacher to teacher Lelchuk enforces a phone ban with her freshmen, but is more lenient with her second-year English students.
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As the app has become more popular, its purpose has evolved. Now some people ignore the time pressure and only post when they are doing something cool, and then repost their favorite BeReals on other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram. A culture of getting ignorant people to take your BeReal has also evolved. Users ask strangers to take their picture without the stranger knowing that they too will be photographed.
BeReal promised authenticity online. That does not exist.
The combination of the app’s popularity among teens, its immediacy, and a desire to involve ignorant older people seems to indicate that the app would be disruptive in the classroom. However, many schools have not run into trouble thanks to their strict phone policies, where phones are kept out of sight on campus or in the classroom, or picked up before each lesson. Mariam Omar is an on-site substitute teacher at one such high school in Los Angeles, California. “My school has a strict no-phone policy, so BeReal hasn’t been a problem,” Omar told Mashable.
Even then, BeReal notifications can disrupt the class. “Our school has a policy of picking up phones at the beginning of class, but students sometimes get the notification on their Apple Watch and panic if they miss it,” said Marina Francis, a 22-year-old Los Angeles high school teacher. . California, Mashable told me. But compared to other apps that bombard users with notifications all day long, BeReal isn’t that distracting. And sometimes, when the notification goes off on a Friday, Francis will spoil her students and have them take their BeReal during class.
Virginia teacher Koons made the game-time decision to let his AP Environmental Science students take their BeReals during class. “During maybe the second week of school, the BeReal alert went off, and I decided it’s not something I’m really going to get stressed about,” Koons told Mashable. His school’s policy is that phones should be out of sight unless they are being used for class. “I made an exception for BeReal because in my mind it’s two minutes of derivative time. It’s not like someone is going to take their BeReal and then 45 minutes later another student is going to make another big deal about BeReal.”
BeReal had not been discussed in an official capacity in the schools of any of the teachers Mashable spoke to. “There’s been some chatter among other teachers, but I’m the youngest teacher on campus, so I may be the only one who actually uses it,” Francis explains. “Some are confused as to what it is. It’s not a big deal on campus, though, because of the phone collection policy.” Lelchuk similarly bets that 85 percent of her co-workers don’t know what BeReal is.
Overall, BeReal gets an A in the books from the teachers Mashable spoke to. Koons sees BeReals in the classroom as a way for his students to connect what they learn in class to something that matters to them: social media. “If they share a discussion or lab that we do in AP Environmental Science or biology, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing,” Koons said. The culture of letting an outsider take your BeReal has also brought students and teachers together. Koons, Francis, and Lelchuk were all asked by their students to be in their BeReals and obliged. “One of my students told me she felt like she bonded with me because I let her bring a BeReal,” Lelchuk said.