81% of under 18s regularly play online games and with over 7 billion views and over 100,000 stories, Episode has become an increasingly popular online game with young people and children.
Episode is an interactive mobile storytelling platform where stories are either written by the writing team at Episode or by the users themselves. Readers can choose different genres ranging from romance, heartache, mystery and drama, and can customise their avatar, develop relationships and choose different fates and endings as the storyline progresses.
The app store rating is 12+ however, there are stories that reference sex, dating, censored nudity, alcohol, drugs and other suggested themes. In Episode’s terms and conditions, readers must be at least 13 to play the game.
Seeing inappropriate content
Some stories in the Episode app contain adult themes such as sex, drugs and alcohol with frequent use of what can be deemed as bad language, making this less suitable for younger children.
In-app purchasing – Readers can also purchase passes or ‘gems’ to receive premium choices, this may reinforce inappropriate reactions to events and kids may unknowingly spend a lot of money. Prices of these gems and passes range between £1.99- £99.99 so it can become pricey.
Fiction vs Reality – The characters in the app may be impressionable on young children, especially those that are vulnerable as they may become influenced by certain aspects of the stories, so it is important to help children understand the difference between what is real and what isn’t and that the game doesn’t reflect real life.
Parental controls – There aren’t any parental controls on Episode, however, it is important to talk with your child about what stories are age-appropriate. There is risk a child will come across stories with high sexual themes and younger especially vulnerable children, may be tempted to interactive with it.
Games can offer children a world of adventure to immerse themselves in, but it’s important to understand how children can stay safe and what games are appropriate for their age. Give them guidance about understanding the world of online gaming and encourage children to game safely and responsibly online.
Ask questions that will help you understand the reasons why they like the app. Tell them to show you the app and how they play it, as it is essential to understand what exactly they are doing on it.
iOS users – Go to your settings, ‘Screen Time’ then ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’ and choose the ‘don’t allow’ option to stop app downloads. You can also set a password whenever your child attempts to make a purchase. Visit Apple Support for more information.
Android users – You can only set a password or authentication for app purchases. Go to your settings from the Google Play Store app and turn on ‘Fingerprint authentication’ and set your password. Visit Google Support for more information.
You can report content that doesn’t follow Episodes guidelines. The Episode website also has information about where you can get help for your child for various topics such as self-harming or bullying.
If you’d like to learn more about the Episode app and other similar apps, here are some places you can visit: