Being a child in today’s world is very different than just a decade ago. Kiddos have traded in toys for cell phones, playtime for screen time and hanging out with friends in person for texting and FaceTime. It has not only changed the way they interact and play but also shifted the type of gifts they’re now asking for—because if you don’t have the latest phone or tablet, who are you?
If Grandma and Grandpa give your youngsters the next gadget to add to their tech arsenal this holiday season, you want to ensure their new present doesn’t expose them to potential harm. By having so much technology at their fingertips, the world has truly become their oyster, along with the dangers of the internet that comes with it.
That’s what Bark, a parental control app, is hoping to change. Founded in 2015 by CEO Brian Bason, who’s a dad of two, Bark helps parents monitor everything their kiddos do on their phones. From text messages and emails to YouTube and over 30 social media platforms, parents and guardians can have insight into what their children are actually seeing online. In 2020 alone, Bark analyzed 2.1 billion messages and has been able to help protect 5.9 million kids.
The app, which has won awards from The National Parenting Center, Mom’s Choice Awards, and National Parenting Product Awards, was created with the assistance of renowned child psychologists, digital media experts, law enforcement professionals, and youth advisors. As a result, Bark has built an advanced algorithm technology that can detect signs of violence, online predators, adult content, cyberbullying and more.
Receive Alerts Directly to Your Phone
If a child engages with unsuitable content, such as a worrisome website or game, or receives a potentially harmful message, parents are notified with emails and text alerts, thanks to Bark’s 24-hour detection services. The algorithm is also trained to detect slang terms and emojis that kids use today to communicate.
To help parents address tough situations, Bark provides expert recommendations from child psychologists on what steps to take after a particular alert, how to talk about it and more.
Select Your Preferred Monitoring Levels
In each category (sexual content, profanity, etc.), Bark users have the option to select one of three monitoring sensitivity levels (relaxed, moderate, or strict) and can be selective of which alerts they want to see and how. According to Bark, the average parent will receive concerning alerts within 24 hours after signing up.
With 42% of children spending over 30 hours a week on their phones, it can become almost a part-time job for parents to keep track of all that their youngsters are doing on their devices. Bark helps by making sure parents receive alerts about anything concerning, so they don’t have to manually look through every single keystroke their child has made.
Say Goodbye to Tech Overload
As kids spend more time glued to their phones, parents may also want to cut back on screen time. Fortunately, Bark helps promote a healthy balance. It allows families to limit the amount of time spent on the internet by setting customized device use rules for school time, bedtime and free time.
The app also allows parents to pause access on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks when children need downtime for homework, dinner or just a moment without their phone.
Block Inappropriate Website and Games
Parents can also turn to the web filtering features to block specific websites or website categories, like streaming and gaming. So if Roblox or Fortnite is a no-go in your household, you can easily restrict access. If your child does attempt to visit a restricted site or app from the designated block list, you’ll receive an alert notifying you about the issue.
Limit Access to App Stores
App Stores can be made off-limits to youngsters who may have gotten their hands on it in the past—and accidentally purchased a good number of games without your approval. Not only does this save your wallet and you from headaches, but it helps you decide what they’re able to engage with.
Check Your Kiddo’s Whereabouts to Help Keep Them Safe
After the 2018 devastating school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., Bark extended its services to all K–12 public and private schools in the nation at no cost. Parents can also turn to the app’s check-in feature to ensure their child’s safety by sending a notification to their phone that requests a response.
Bark has also recently released a new location sharing feature that alerts parents whenever their child arrives at, or leaves, a specific location.
While adults cannot control the entire internet, they can use Bark to create healthy guardrails for their children and make sure they know when their child may be in danger.
Sign up for Bark today and start your seven-day free trial, so you can have peace of mind while your child is online. Learn more about Bark and its mission to keep children safe in this video here.