Children’s safety while online has been a major concern for some time now, and companies are increasingly trying to take a proactive role in managing the risk. Cricket Wireless and Bark Technologies are the latest example. They are offering the free and discounted use of their parental monitoring app, called Bark, which helps families to better understand and safely monitor their children during their everyday online activities.
Part of the intended allure of using Bark is to save parents the hassle of wading through their kids’ text messages and other online activities to help keep them safe. Instead, the parents can receive alerts when something gets becomes flagged by the app’s A.I. system, whether that concerns cyberbullying, suicidal intent, child predators, or other harmful content. The app — which can also filter websites, offer location check-ins, and designate screen time to ensure a healthy online experience — lets parents decide when to step in and act.
Bark focuses on an extensive list of apps popular among youth, and even provides parents with others resources they can use to better understand the potential dangers of being online. Though the monitoring options of Bark are extensive compared to similar apps, they do seem to also advocate for the healthy development of youth. The alert system is built with children’s privacy in mind, so families can still feel the peace of mind that their kids are exploring the world safely without overstepping boundaries.
As a bonus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study using Bark on the risk factors for youths online. Among other things, the results showed that online behaviors tracked with the app could be used to predict youths’ suicidal ideations among those who experienced more harmful content. The app itself, however, can’t predict if a child is at risk in the future. This shows that with further monitoring using the app, it could be possible to understand what content is affecting children in harsher ways and how pareents can help them avoid those hazards going forward.
If Bark doesn’t fit your needs, other parental monitoring apps are available. Even without a parental tool, more phones are coming out with better safety in mind for children. And it might be worth looking at what the best phones are to start your kids off with.
Not every parental monitoring tool makes the cut, though. Apple recently tried to create a similar feature to Bark that was intended to stop Child Sexual Abuse Material from circulating and would work by scanning user’s photos on iCloud, but the plans were put on hold due to worry over customers’ privacy.
If you’re a Cricket customer, you can enjoy free usage of the Bark Jr. subscription. While it doesn’t give you any alerts on your children’s activity, it does allow you to manage screen time, filter websites, and use location check-ins. Should you want to try their alert system, you can grab a discounted subscription to Bark Premium at $10 a month for 12 months. Other pricing options are available on the website.
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