An Introduction to Bark
What is Bark?
Bark is a social media monitoring tool that helps parents stay on top of their children’s online activity. Through advanced machine learning and statistical analysis, Bark alerts parents when its algorithms detect certain words, phrases, acronyms or teen lingo that have been flagged for further review. In addition to many of the most popular social media platforms, it can also monitor email, texting on iPhones and iPads, and Google Docs.
The Major Benefits
Real-time monitoring of 25+ social media apps, email accounts, and iOS text messages
Automatic alerts when a potential threat is detected
Thoughtful guidance for how to approach children when a potential issue has been identified
Respects children’s privacy because parents only see those exchanges that have been flagged
Saves parents from having to manually monitoring their child’s online activity
Examples such as the above can be instructional for kids. Barks has literally millions of users which means the likelihood that it’s installed on at least one of their friends’s devices is fairly high. As they probably don’t want their friend’s parents receiving notifications like these, they’ll likely want to consider even more carefully what kinds of messages they’re sending to their friends.
Overall, we have found that Barks alerts help to keep the conversation around online safety and the treatment of others ongoing with our kids. Their algorithms are pretty thorough!
What Do Teens Think of Bark?
When teens know their parents will be monitoring their accounts and online activity, they typically prefer Bark because it provides some semblance of privacy. They know their parents will only be alerted to potential concerns and will not have direct access to all of their exchanges.
We recommend using Our Family Agreement to spell out parental privileges when it comes to monitoring accounts — better to be transparent!
What Parents Should Know
While Bark is an amazing tool, it does have its limitations. First and foremost, while it can monitor many of the most popular social media apps, it cannot monitor all of their respective features. Here’s a summary of what Bark can and cannot do on the following platform:
- Instagram–can monitor images and videos your child posts, but cannot monitor direct messaging or searches
- YouTube–can monitor videos your child posts and comments on those videos, it cannot monitor searches or views
- Snapchat–it does not work
Secondly, there is a bit of a lag between when Bark detects an issue and when you are notified. In our test run, it was approximately, 2.5 days. Ultimately in parenting, instincts are everything, so open communication with your child and seeking professional consult for your specific concerns is always advised.
Lastly, Bark makes it really easy to try their service. There is a seven-day free trial, and it’s $9 per month thereafter. Set up was super-easy, but be advised that for every account you want Bark to monitor, you will need your child’s username and password. Click here to get started, or for more information about Bark and its capabilities, click here.
While we do think it’s a worthwhile service, there’s no substitute for actively Parenting Technology and engaging with your children about their online experience.
Navigating the twists and turns of ‘Parenting Technology’ can be tricky. See our Social Media roadmap to get up to speed on the major issues and our recommendations for managing the journey.