By: Titania Jordan
Once kids receive their first phones, it’s common for parents to be anxious and concerned for the things their children may get into online. From cyberbullying to online predators, countless ways exist for children to run into potentially dangerous situations.
If you think it won’t happen to your child, think again. Based on our 2017 Annual Data, Children & Teen Cyber Fact Sheet, 66% of teens and 57% of tweens experienced cyberbullying (as a bully, victim, or witness). These were our findings after analyzing over 500 million messages across texting, email, and social media of children ages 8-17.
Additionally, 72% of teens and 53% of tweens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature, and 18% of teens and 11% of tweens were involved with a self-harm/suicidal situation. You can see the full list of issues encountered here.
Fortunately, there are apps that can help control how and when they use their phone, and there are tools that can help filter and restrict mature websites.
But how do you monitor what kids are actually saying online and expressing to their friends? And what’s more — how do you do it in a way that helps build trust with your child and encourage open, honest communication?
Some parents simply take their children’s phones and begin scrolling through it — every email, every chat, and every social media profile – but spot-checking is labor-intensive and ineffective. Kids these days are resourceful, plus, they’re always finding new ways of hiding or deleting things they’ve created.
At Bark, we knew there had to be a better way. Founded in 2015 by parents with kids about to receive their first phones, our monitoring service helps keep kids safer online while also allowing opportunities for families to build trust. Parents don’t receive access to everything that’s posted; instead, they receive email or text alerts when certain issues pop up.
We now protect over 2 million children across the nation, have helped to prevent 15 school shootings, and have sent close to 33,000 self-harm alerts. 34 families have written in to tell us that a Bark alert (text or email) saved their child’s life, and we take what we do very seriously.
What does Bark look for?
Our algorithm uses machine learning to identify potentially dangerous situations that kids face online, including:
Threats of violence
Bark’s monitoring service scans text messages, emails, YouTube, and 24 different social networks while looking for issues. Our software analyzes not just text, but also photographs and pictures of text.
The benefits of monitoring
Bark not only helps keep kids physically safe — it can also help keep them emotionally healthy.
As kids spend more and more time deep in their devices, they may not be communicating to parents how they’re actually feeling or what struggles they’re facing.
Because of this, issues like cyberbullying and depression may go unaddressed, negatively affecting school performance, attendance, and self-worth.
Our intelligent monitoring sends out alerts for thousands of such messages every day, enabling parents to gain insight into what’s actually happening in their children’s lives. We not only alert parents and schools to problematic issues, we also send best recommended next steps for how to address. Digital parenting is hard and we are the first generation of parents to have to do so.
The importance of staying safe across devices
While a phone may be the most common tech companion a child carries around, tablets, laptops, and computers are also avenues for potential danger. It’s important to monitor them, as well.
Social media apps likes Facebook and Instagram can be accessed in multiple ways, and on Macs, iMessage enables texting without a phone. Email accounts are used at home and at school, and for accounts through Google or Microsoft, files may be saved and edited anywhere.
Bark covers all of these situations, giving parents peace of mind that no matter where kids are or what device they’re using, they’ll be monitored for potentially life-threatening situations. Visit bark.us to learn more about our award-winning monitoring service.
Titania Jordan is the Chief Parent Officer of Bark.us, an internet safety solution that helps parents, corporations, and schools keep children safer across social media, text messaging, and email. Titania travels the country serving as a tech expert on programs such as TODAY Show, Steve Harvey, The Doctors, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, Fox News, Sirius XM Radio, CNBC, and Jenny McCarthy and contributing to Forbes, Huffington Post, Fox Business, Daily Mail, USA Today, and Vogue. Titania enjoys painting and building some pretty sweet LEGO cities with her family in her downtime.
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