What is the Episode app and is it appropriate for my child?
Here are 5 FACTS every parent needs to know about Episode:
#1 Choose Your Story
Episode is a storytelling game in the Role Playing category.
The app is a mobile storytelling network and platform. Their own description states that it features: interactive Hollywood-caliber stories built from the ground up for mobile, not the passive entertainment of TV and movies. In Episode, your choices decide the path of your story.
Parents can relate it to the “choose your own adventure” style books from generations ago.
The app store description says that: Episode lets you LIVE your stories with love, romance, adventure, and drama. Wouldn’t it be amazing if YOU were a character in your favorite story? Episode lets you do just that with over 100,000 gripping stories, where you make choices that matter.
They promote 3 ways to engage:
DISCOVER – From romance to comedy, suspense to mystery, Episode has the largest collection of stories
CREATE – You could create the next great Episode story on our website and share it with millions of viewers.
EXPERIENCE – Episode puts YOU in the center of the story. Find love, hang out with celebrities and make choices that shape your story.
#2 Featured Stories
The Episode app promotes featured stories for readers to engage with. In fact, when you download the app, after agreeing to terms of service they offer you 1 of 2 stories to begin with. Typically these are stories that are sexually-charged and aimed at young girls yet to have “mature experiences”.
A few of the featured stories they list:
The K*SS List – Kentwood Academy is ripe for taking over. Continue your perfect streak of ruling schools by kissing 10 of Kentwood’s hottest singles!
It Starts with a Bra – You wake up in the middle of the night to find your sexy, bad boy neighbor in your room holding your bra! What would you do?
Love Life – Ready to heat up your love life? First, scheme and party your way to true love in this sizzling romance where you call the shots and make your dreams come true.
Demi Lovato: Path to Fame – When you win a chance to tour with the one and only superstar, Demi Lovato, your ability to balance love, friends, and fans is put to the test. Will you make it to the final stage?
When we downloaded the app we were immediately given 1 story option: LOVE ON FIRE, where our character moved into a luxury beach mansion with other hot singles looking for love. It was very much a “Bachelor/Bachelorette” type of story. While the first 2 chapters we engaged with didn’t directly refer to sex there was talk of sexiness, boldness, drinking, feeling buzzed, and kissing.
#3 Story Writers & Community Guidelines
Episode allows and encourages people to become a creator and write their own story. Episode has their own writer’s platform for story writers to use.
Content considered objectionable or offensive not allowed:
-excessive violence or assault
-excessive alcohol, tobacco, drug use
-gambling, betting, casinos
-profanity or sexually explicit phrases
In the writer’s content guidelines they detail that characters cannot have sex on screen nor can there be explicit sexual details of such. They explain that readers must always have the option to turn down sex without punishment or judgment.
Furthermore, the content guidelines detail that profanity is allowed although only handful of words don’t have to be censored. By censoring, they mean that an * is in place of a letter. Similarly, their nudity policy states that as long as there is a censor bar or scenery to censor, it is allowed.
#4 In App Purchases & Ads
You can subscribe for unlimited access to Episode stories
$2.99/week, $7.99/month or $39.99 annually.
Episode pushes users to purchase passes or ‘gems’ to receive premium choices throughout the stories. These gems range in price from:
$1.99 for 22 gems to $99.99 for 1500 gems.
Very often, the choices that you want – those that will lead you through the story in the most exciting way are the choices you have to pay for. Then when you choose the default choice (b/c you don’t want to pay) the story’s characters make you feel bad for it.
According to the Episode Forum posts and the Episode Reddit feed, writers are now more commonly monetizing their choices throughout the story (much to the frustration of readers). You can also earn gems by having a reading “streak” – reading every day…..banking off of Snapchat’s streaks that keep you daily engaged with the app.
Additionally, readers need “passes” in order to get to the next chapter of a story. Passes (along with minimal amounts of gems) are earned organically through choices within the story. Passes purchased outright cost:
$1.99 for 7 passes to $39.99 for 120 passes.
#5 Parental Controls & Ratings
App Store: 12+
Google Play: T (Teen)
Episode: 13+ to register for an account and if you are between 13-18 years old your parent or guardian has reviewed and agreed to the terms of service. If under 18, you shall monitor your account to restrict use by minors, and you will deny access to children under the age of 13.
Brave Parenting: 16+
The Episode app has no parental controls at all.
The reader-led stories centering around relationships, drinking, sex, and body image can be far too mentally and emotionally dangerous for young girls.
It’s easy to imagine how a young girl could be influenced to act out these narratives in real life expecting to receive similar responses from real life friends. Plainly speaking, the stories make you feel like you’re living your favorite television or reality show – and while it may be a fun escape from the stress of real life – this fictional reality is too much for young minds to discern.
Even more, this isn’t mentioning the sexual content and how easy it is to drop loads of money into this app in order to have the game play experience desired.
Episode should be not allowed until at least 16 years old. Even then, the morals and ethics it holds should be seriously considered. These stories simply do not represent Christian values and character.