BeReal or BeAddicted?


Lexie Hullivan

This year, the new administration has made it a priority to take distractions out of the classroom. but there are a few things that keep certain students tuned out. Specifically, the app BeReal has taken off since its initial release in 2020, and in early 2022 it gained widespread popularity. 

Social media is known to be addictive, but newer platforms take advantage of that fact more than older ones. These apps encourage human interaction and release dopamine into the brain. However, unlike Instagram and TikTok, BeReal and Snapchat are instant. There is a real fear, not unlike FOMO, of missing the most recent social updates. For example, on Snapchat, students fear losing streaks or not seeing a snapchat from a special someone right away. With BeReal comes the fear of being ”late”, or not responding to the daily notification within two minutes. Additionally, Snapchat and BeReal are designed to distract you, to increase the amount of time people spend on the app. While it might be a smart business move for the company, it draws student’s attention away from their schoolwork.

Not all students let social media affect them. For instance, sophomore Olivia Marelli argued, “I don’t think Snapchat or BeReal are that bad of a distraction. . . sometimes it’s good to have a break in class and when that happens I like to make time to socialize with my friends.” Olivia’s opinion is synonymous with that of many of her classmates. However, teachers such as Ms. Baumgartner don’t necessarily agree: “There is definitely a problem with phones within our school…It’s very frustrating as a teacher to find students sending messages to other students during my lesson.” As WHS’ go-to on health-related matters, Ms. Baumgartner wouldn’t go as far as to classify social media as an addiction: “I don’t know if I would call the average student social media addicted yet, but I would say it’s definitely heading there for many.”

Unfortunately for Ms. Baumgartner, the app BeReal has reached new heights. For those unaware of BeReal’s recent uprise, the app sends you a notification at a randomized time of the day, and users have two miniutes to post a candid photo of whatever they’re currently doing. While the point of the time limit is to “BeReal”, many people spend every second of the two minutes crafting the picture perfect post. In April 2022, the app had 2.93 million daily users and as of August, the company achieved over 10 million daily users. Sophomore Angeles Pina-Rodriguez said of her activity on the app, “I only started using BeReal in the summer when I noticed all my friends were on it. I do my best to stay concentrated on my classes, but when the teachers give us a break, it’s become normal for my friends and I to check for a BeReal notification… BeReal is really fun and I like seeing what my friends are doing and the only way to see that is to rush to post one too.” Knowing that BeReal will alert you sometime in the day, without knowing specifically when, does create a subconscious distraction, but for students who care about their studies, it is not overtly disruptive. That being said, the disturbance is expanded to the entire classroom when teachers get involved. A teacher on the third floor admitted to taking BeReals whenever she was asked, even if the student’s work was not complete. 

The infinite scroll is another factor that aids these platforms’ ability to keep you engaged on their app. On Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and BeReal, there are feeds and pages that go on forever, continuing to update their algorithms to what they observe about your interests. The app becomes more attuned to your likes and dislikes the longer you scroll, which often creates a never ending cycle of social media addiction. The massive corporations behind our screens are not oblivious to the effect that their programming has on students, and so these money-making strategies have become more evident over time. 

According to a poll by ExpressVPN, 85% of people aged 16 to 24 reported that social media has negative effects on both their self-esteem and self-image. Teens preoccupy themselves with being popular and liked, and when social media makes them feel the opposite, they tend to perform poorly in class. Ultimately, social media may take student focus away from academics directly and indirectly. 

Diligence and commitment to learning differs throughout the student population at Waterford High. Regardless, there are students who will always find something to interfere with school, and others will always make an effort to avoid those distractions. Social media’s effect on some students will lead to larger problems with mental health and intelligence in the long term, whereas others will continue to thrive despite the hindrance of social media.