Janine M. Cooper does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
One such app is Episode — Choose Your Storya free game with more than 50 million downlo and five million weekly users. Episode is coming under scrutiny by parents and users, many as young as 10, for its inappropriate themes.
Parent reviews for episode -- choose your story
Such apps are far-reaching, and parenting their use can be tricky. While most storylines focus on romance and high school relationships, many have raised alarm bells in parents.
A of parents have voiced concerns on Common Sense Media, a leading source of entertainment recommendations for families. Episode features numerous storylines about sexual discrimination, underage sex and pregnancy.
For : episode game
Many of these glorify adultery and are potentially promoting reckless decision making, pettiness and unkind acts. First, storylines can be written by anyone, even those aged And while there are more than 12 million creators, there is little content regulation, even when the Episode community expresses concern.
Another concerning aspect of the game is that in many situations, users have to pay money to make morally correct decisions, yet reckless choices are free. This reinforces inappropriate reactions to events. This is also where players can unwittingly spend huge amounts of money.
: The app trap: how children spend thousands online. That said, players of Episode are often impressionable older children and teens. This is hardly surprising.
Episode -- choose your story
At this stage of development, peer relationships are highly rewarding. Many players are introduced to apps such as Episode by siblings or friends, and are enticed by the excitement they offer. Research shows several areas of the brain make adolescents more sensitive to the rewards of peer relationships than adults.
This motivates teens to focus on their peers in decision-making situations that involve risky behaviour.
Episode game app – what parents need to know
This is apparent in one comment from a year-old made on a Common Sense Media forum about Episode:. The best app!!!!! I love it!!!!!
: Is that porn your child is watching online? How do you know?
Winter is coming
Due to the discrepancy in app store ratings, the best prevention of or teen using inappropriate apps is to refer to guidance sites such as Common Sense Media. But an even better defence is for parents to test questionable apps themselves.
To prevent the use of unsuitable apps by children and teens, parents can try establishing a verbal and written contract with their child before they are allowed to own a smartphone, or other smart device. It should contain guidelines for when, how long and what can be viewed on the device.
Furthermore, due to the tendency of apps such as Episode to encourage consumerism, children and teens should not buy gems, tokens, cards or any app-related digital currency, without first discussing this with an adult. Research suggests typing on a keyboard to calculate times tablesrather than writing by hand or using a smartphone, can hinder long-term learning and memory.
Instead of encouraging device usage, children benefit from more reading, storytelling and imaginative play. As they mature, such activities enable greater fluency, theory of mind which is understanding that others may have different beliefs and desires to youand moral reasoning abilities. : Five reasons why you should read aloud to your kids — and pick their favourite book.
The good news is, app developers have also started to heed such advice, with many promoting the interactive components of their product. Apps that encourage storytellingmany led by research and developed by educators, are popular with children and teens too.
Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. CooperMurdoch Children's Research Institute. Author Janine M. Classification Parenting Online gaming Parental involvement Mobile apps parental guidance Sexual consent Adultery Kids gaming mobile gaming.