As smartphone ownership surges, we’re seeing a drastic rise in the use of mobile apps, a few of which are marketed towards impressionable young audiences. One such app is Episode – Select 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.

Based on a US report published this coming year, which surveyed 1,677 kids, 41% of tweens (aged 8-12) and 84% of teens (aged 13-18) owned a Episode Hack. There’s an increasing number of games directed at these age brackets, in which many adhere to a “choose your story” format.

The stories are separated into episodes and also the user, or “reader”, can interact with storylines and even create their very own. Readers can select from a listing of responses to influence things like a character’s appearance, dialogue and response to events.

Some storylines concentrate on romance and high school relationships, many have raised alarm bells in parents. Numerous parents have voiced concerns on Good Sense Media, a leading source of entertainment tips for families.

What your child engages with online – Episode features numerous storylines about sexual discrimination, underage sex and pregnancy. Many of these glorify adultery and therefore are potentially promoting reckless making decisions, pettiness and unkind acts. On inspection, there are numerous issues with the app.

First, storylines could be published by anyone, even those aged 13-17. And even though there are other 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 on the poor moral message of a young female character being “blind drunk” and never consenting to your sexual liaison having an older male character.

Yet, the history had not been removed, and the author did little to address the backlash.

Another concerning aspect of the game is the fact in lots of situations, users need to pay money to create morally correct decisions, yet reckless options are free. This reinforces inappropriate reactions to events. This is where players can unwittingly spend huge amounts of money.

Continue reading: The app trap: how children spend thousands online

Have you thought about parental guidance ratings?

On the Sound Judgment Media website, parents have given Episode a parental advisory rating of 14 , whereas kids have rated it appropriate for ages 13 .

On the Apple App Store, the video game is rated 12 and on Google Play it’s rated “Mature”.

Nevertheless, players of Episode are often impressionable older children and teens. A 12 rating offers little guidance to parents, and ratings overall don’t manage to deter children from playing.

This really is hardly surprising. At this point of development, peer relationships rrqyha highly rewarding. Many players are brought to apps like Episode by siblings or friends, and they are enticed from the excitement they offer.

Studies have shown several areas 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 that involve risky behaviour.

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