Over the years since I’ve been writing about parenting in the age of smart phones, apps, tablets, and everywhere internet, I’ve been asked about what apps and filters I recommend to keep your kids’ devices locked down tight—and keep your kids protected. I could always recommend a few I knew were held in high esteem, but in the case of a smartphone, I didn’t have personal experience with an app or filter that worked well. That, of course, was all my fault, as I held off giving any of my kids a smart device of any kind as long as possible.
However, recently my husband and I finally caved and gave our fourteen-year-old son a smart phone. The reason? The “dumb” phone we’d gotten him to keep in touch was so clunky and slow, it made it very hard for us to monitor his text messages. AND…he’s a teenage boy. We NEED to monitor his text messages.
So, enter the smartphone. And THANK GOODNESS, enter the Bark App. Before we agreed to give our son a smart phone, my husband and I agreed we would have it “locked down tight.” The Bark app was basically the answer to our prayers. It’s super smart and analyzes any account you sync to it. Because our son isn’t allowed any social media except a YouTube channel, we only have it monitoring his email, YouTube, and text messages. But if he had Instagram, SnapChat, or any other social media accounts, the Bark app would monitor them as well.
Here’s how it works: you link your child’s phone and social accounts to Bark, and you as parents download the parent app. Anytime there is a perceived issue, the Bark App notifies you via text and/or email (your choice.) The Bark app filters are VERY sensitive, and they catch EVERYTHING! If someone even responds to a YouTube comment my son has made and includes profanity in their comment, I’ll get an alert. If any of his friends use the word “hate” in a text, I get an alert (Fortunately, in our case, all “hate” comments have been about video games, LOL!).
Here’s what I LOOOOVE about the Bark app:
- It’s on the job 24-7. It is analyzing your kid’s accounts around the clock.
- The filters, as I mentioned, are very sensitive. It even detects abbreviations for profanity, like if someone types “fckn” instead of the whole word. It will catch talk of self-harm, bullying, depression, etc. every single time.
- You get notifications to your phone, and you can check it out without your kid knowing.
- When the issue is concerning a text message, the Bark app screenshots a very large portion of the text conversation for you so you can get some context of the conversation, without having to hunt down your kid’s phone to read it all.
- It’s inexpensive. We pay $9-$10 a month and it’s worth every penny and then some!!
- It doesn’t matter what device your child is using. Bark app is on the job whether they’re signed into their phone or if they’re using a tablet, laptop or desktop.
- You can monitor ALL your kids from one Bark account. No need to make one for each kid.
Bark isn’t paying me for this endorsement, but after using the service for two months, I honestly can’t live without it, and I’d be doing you a disservice not to tell you about it. It has given me so much peace of mind as far as my son’s online interactions and conversations go. Seriously, from one mom to another, GIVE IT A TRY! You can try it free for a week, but you’re gonna want it FOREVER. Sign up for your trial on their website.