BattleSteps

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
BattleSteps App Poster Image
Fun push for fitness goals, but allows texts from strangers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Though it's not intended for educational purposes, tweens and teens can develop healthy fitness habits while using the app. Each day, the app matches you to a user with a similar activity level, making the daily head-to-head battles especially effective as just-right challenges for kids and adults alike.

Ease of Play

While the interface is a bit busy and it can be hard to figure out how to use the in-app purchases, this app is ultimately straightforward to use.

Violence
Sex
Language

Users can "taunt" their opponents with a tongue-out emoji and send text messages through the app, so profanity is possible. However, it's possible to report users.

Consumerism

There are no in-app purchases available for real money, but you can earn in-app currency and use it to purchase accessories such as stickers for your social media posts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that BattleSteps is a pedometer app that lets people compete with strangers for high hourly and daily step counts. Each day, users are assigned another user to compete against, and competitors can use the app's messaging feature to send applause or taunts -- in the form of emojis -- or text messages to each other, which some users and their parents may not love. Users can also use in-game currency to purchase items such as stickers to dress up social media posts. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

BATTLESTEPS is a competitive fitness app where users earn in-app currency, stars, and badges by walking during the day. The app syncs with the built-in fitness-tracking features on your iPhone or Apple Watch and pits you against another app user at random. Each day, the app's algorithm pairs you with another user whose daily activity level is similar to your own, and you compete against your opponent for per-hour step totals and for your overall total steps at the end of the day. There are no in-app purchases available for money, but you can use in-app currency to buy stickers you can share in the app's messenger tool. Users can send text messages to each other through the app.

Is it any good?

The overall concept and several features of this app are excellent, but there are a few that seem unnecessary. It's great that you get rewarded for incremental progress (such as the hourly step counts) and for overall achievement (with the end-of-day step totals). It's also motivating that BattleSteps is configured to match you with competitors who are similarly athletically inclined, which helps ensure that the daily competitions feel like just-right challenges rather than lopsided competitions. However, aside from some occasional lags and glitches, the biggest concern for teens is the open messaging feature, since it's possible to send texts to strangers. Though there's a report feature if someone is abusing the system, and the messaging hasn't been problematic for users, it seems like a potential risk that isn't necessary to fulfill the goals of the app. Overall, this is an excellent concept and a great way to gamify fitness, but parents may want to monitor teens' use and communications if kids are using solo.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to help kids succeed in their goals. Talk about the different positive behaviors that BattleSteps rewards: Why is it important to reward people for working toward their goals little by little?

  • Give your teen some reminders about safety when walking, running, or biking outdoors: Always let an adult know your route, use reflective gear if you're out at dawn, dusk, or dark, and so on.

  • Discuss the best ways to use the communication options in the app, or discuss your reasons why your teen shouldn't use them. When competing against someone, what are appropriate and inappropriate things to say? What would you want someone to say to you?

App details

For kids who love exercise and the outdoors

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