As smartphone ownership surges, we’re seeing a drastic increase in using mobile apps, many of which are marketed towards impressionable young viewers. One such app is Episode – Pick Your Story, a free game with more than 50 million downloads and five million weekly users. Episode is coming under analysis by parents and users, many as young as 10, for the inappropriate themes. Such applications are far-reaching, and parenting their use can be tricky.
In accordance with a US report published this year, which surveyed 1,677 kids, 41% of tweens (aged 8-12) and 84% of teens (aged 13-18) owned a Episode Free Gems. There’s a lot more games geared towards these age brackets, in which many adhere to a “choose your story” format.
The stories are divided into episodes as well as the user, or “reader”, can communicate with storylines and also create their own. Readers can choose from a listing of responses to influence things such as a character’s appearance, dialogue and reaction to events.
While many storylines focus on romance and high school relationships, many have raised alarm bells in parents. Several parents have voiced concerns on Common Sense Media, a prominent supply of entertainment tips for families.
What your son or daughter engages with internet – Episode features numerous storylines about sexual discrimination, underage sex and pregnancy. Many of these glorify adultery and they are potentially promoting reckless selection, pettiness and unkind acts. On inspection, there are numerous problems with the app.
First, storylines can be written by anyone, even those aged 13-17. And while there are more than 12 million creators, there is very little content regulation, even when the Episode community expresses concern.
One story regarding sexual consent raised uproar with users, who have been concerned at the poor moral message of the young female character being “blind drunk” rather than consenting to a sexual liaison having an older male character.
Yet, the tale was not removed, and also the author did little to handle the backlash.
Another concerning aspect of the game is the fact in many situations, users need to pay money to make morally correct decisions, yet reckless options are free. This reinforces inappropriate reactions to events. This can be where players can unwittingly spend huge quantities of money.
Find out more: The app trap: how children spend thousands online
How about parental guidance ratings?
In the Common Sense Media website, parents have given Episode a parental advisory rating of 14 , whereas kids have rated it suitable for ages 13 .
In the Apple App Store, this game is rated 12 and also on Google Play it’s rated “Mature”.
Nevertheless, players of Episode are frequently impressionable older kids and teens. A 12 rating offers little guidance to parents, and ratings overall don’t manage to deter children from playing.
This can be hardly surprising. At this stage of development, peer relationships rrqyha highly rewarding. Many players are exposed to apps such as Episode by siblings or friends, and therefore are enticed through the excitement they feature.
Research indicates several regions of your brain make adolescents more understanding of the rewards of peer relationships than adults. This motivates teens to concentrate on their peers in decision-making situations which involve risky behaviour.