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Is Character.AI Safe? A Character.AI Review for Parents

Overall Rating:
⭐ 2.0 / 5

Updated May 30, 2024

Overview

Overall Rating: ⭐ 2.0 / 5

Recommended Age: 15 and up

When we were teenagers, we might’ve had a poster of our celebrity crush on the bedroom wall. Kids nowadays? They can have realistic, AI-generated conversations with their celebrity crushes right from their phone, taking those innocent obsessions to a whole new level. 

It seems AI platforms have popped up all over the place since ChatGPT emerged, and Character.AI has gained the most traction with Gen Z. Essentially, you can have a chat conversation with any character you can think of. Seriously — anyone. 

In reviewing the app, our team found popular characters you might expect, like Harry Styles, Peter Parker, and Taylor Swift. But we also found different ones like Napoleon Bonaparte and Freddy the Bear from Five Nights at Freddy’s. You can create your own character, but there are tons that others have already created that you can chat with. 

So if you’re not sure what to think about these virtual character chatbots, you’re not alone. So that’s why we took a deep dive into this app to tell parents everything they need to know about Character.AI. Let’s jump in!

Harmful Content 😲

Rating:

All sorts of characters are on this platform and each conversation you have with just one of these characters will be different every time. Some of the characters themselves are concerning, like one called “Toxic Boyfriend” that starts the conversation off with “Why are you always so annoying?” This highlights a similar issue found on fan fiction platforms like Wattpad, where fantasies of fictional characters can quickly trend toward glorifying harmful or abusive romantic relationships. But even seemingly wholesome characters can have conversations that turn dark or sexual. 

Character.AI has an NSFW filter that is supposed to catch any responses from the AI that are not appropriate. The platform does not support pornographic content and according to its site, they are “constantly evaluating the boundaries of what we support.” In our testing of the app, we found the filter to be sufficient in stopping conversations from getting too graphic. But it’s important that parents remember that no filter is perfect, and it’s still possible your child could find concerning content. 

Character.AI does have human moderators — however, these moderators can only evaluate public chats. Most users who come to the platform are most likely going to keep their conversations private, so the mods can only help so much. Character.AI does have an easy reporting process if a user finds a “quality problem” within a conversation. But if a teen is creating these characters on purpose, they probably aren’t going to report it.

Predation 🚨

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You’d think there wouldn’t be any chance for predation on an app designed for fictional conversations. Sadly, the platform recently released a new group chat feature. With it, users can create a group chat with both characters and human users. Currently, you can only invite a human user using an external link, which decreases the chances of a random user from the app ending up in your child’s group chats. But this still opens up the possibility and the developers could very well change this in the future.  

The platform also has a community forum where you can share characters and conversations. Other users can comment on these posts, where your child could be interacting with potential predators. Predators could invite kids to a group chat in the app or invite them to chat on Discord — since Character.AI has a direct link to Discord within the app. 

Positive Value 💙

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While AI in general may make some parents nervous, there are certainly tons of benefits to consider as well. If you need inspiration for a creative project like writing or filmmaking this can be a great tool to flush out your ideas. You can even chat with “helper” characters who will give advice on things like creative writing. However, it’s hard to say just how many users are coming to the platform with this intention, as opposed to just wanting to talk to their favorite characters.

Privacy 🔒

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Privacy is not the biggest concern of Character.AI. You’ll need an email address to create an account and you’ll have to provide your birthday. If your child’s account is set up so that there’s no personally identifiable information on their profile (name, age, school, etc.) then users can have a relatively private experience. 

Parental Controls ✅

Rating:

This platform does not have parental controls. For users in the U.S., you have to be at least 13 years old to use and users in EU countries have to be at least 16 years old. However, there is no age verification and younger kids could very easily give an older age to access the app. 

But Bark knows that parents could use extra protection when it comes to apps like this! With Bark, parents can:

  • Block Character.AI entirely, if needed.
  • Manage when your child can use Character.AI throughout the day. 

So, should my kid download it?

Due to the potential for inappropriate content and the lack of supervision parents have of what goes on in the app, we’d save this app for kids about 15 and up. It’s important that parents consider the maturity of their child and the reason they want to use this app before allowing their child on it. We recommend sitting down with your child and having them show you what they like about it so you can see for yourself how it works.

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