As mobile phone ownership surges, we’re seeing a drastic rise in the usage of mobile apps, many of which are marketed towards impressionable young viewers. One such application is Episode – Pick Your Story, a free game with more than 50 million downloads and five million weekly users. Episode is coming under scrutiny by parents and users, many as young as 10, for the inappropriate themes. Such apps 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 Cheats. There’s progressively more games directed at these age ranges, in which many follow a “choose your story” format.
The stories are split into episodes as well as the user, or “reader”, can communicate with storylines as well as create their own. Readers can select from a list of responses to influence stuff like a character’s appearance, dialogue and reaction to events.
Some storylines give attention to romance and school relationships, many have raised alarm bells in parents. A number of parents have voiced concerns on Sound Judgment Media, a respected supply of entertainment strategies for families.
What your kids engages with online – Episode features numerous storylines about sexual discrimination, underage sex and pregnancy. A number of these glorify adultery and they are potentially promoting reckless making decisions, pettiness and unkind acts. On inspection, there are several issues with the app.
First, storylines could be written by anyone, even those aged 13-17. Even though there are more than 12 million creators, there is very little content regulation, even though the Episode community expresses concern.
One story regarding sexual consent raised uproar with users, who were concerned in the poor moral message of a young female character being “blind drunk” and never consenting to a sexual liaison having an older male character.
Yet, the history was not removed, and the author did little to handle the backlash.
Another concerning aspect of the game is the fact in numerous situations, users have 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 levels of money.
Find out more: The app trap: how children spend thousands online
What about parental guidance ratings?
Around the Sound Judgment Media website, parents have given Episode a parental advisory rating of 14 , whereas kids have rated it appropriate for ages 13 .
Around the Apple App Store, the video game is rated 12 and also on Google Play it’s rated “Mature”.
Having said that, players of Episode are frequently impressionable older kids and teens. A 12 rating offers little guidance to parents, and ratings overall don’t appear to deter children from playing.
This really is hardly surprising. At this point of development, peer relationships rrqyha highly rewarding. Many players are exposed to apps like Episode by siblings or friends, and therefore are enticed by the excitement they feature.
Research shows several regions of the 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 entail risky behaviour.