Thinking of purchasing your kids a smartphone this holiday season but nervous about what will happen once they have it? You’re not alone. Giving your kids a phone is both a big step and a big responsibility, ones that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But thankfully, there are ways to keep them safe in a world full of cyber uncertainty.
One of the best ways to ensure the apps your kids download and the texts they send daily are being used responsibly is to download a parent monitoring tool such as Bark. Created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts, and law enforcement professionals, the Bark app currently monitors 24 of today’s most popular social media platforms as well as texts, chat, email, YouTube and files in Google Drive and OneDrive. It also happens to be started by a father who was looking for ways to keep his own children safe online but found nothing that worked.
The best news is this app really does work. Bark helps protect more than 4 million kids across the U.S. and has alerted parents to tens of millions of potential issues without infringing on kids’ privacy because it only alerts parents when something looks suspicious and doesn’t give them full access to their kids’ accounts.
In 2018 alone, Bark detected 1.2M+ instances of cyberbullying, 142,000+ instances of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation, and 99 child conversations with sexual predators--in addition to preventing 16 school shootings--with the free Bark for Schools program.
Installing a monitoring app like Bark is also a great way to initiate a conversation about all things cyber safety with your kids around the dinner table. After all, you’re entrusting them with a major tool and communication device, and with that comes responsibility. Many parents have a Tech Contract they create with their kids that must be signed before the device is handed over. You can learn more about Tech Contracts here: https://www.bark.us/blog/tech-accountability-create-technology-contract-family/.
Finally, some quick but valuable tips for parents buying smartphones or other devices this season include:
- Caution your kids on sending or posting images/videos online
- Know who your child is talking to online
- Make sure your kids choose non-identifying screen names
- Regulate screen time each day
- Make room for non-digital family time
- Avoid having phones in bedrooms (especially after a certain time)
- Don’t allow unsupervised YouTube time
- Join a parent tech education and community group
- Require approval for every app download
- Talk openly and honestly about cyberbullying
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and SAFE holiday season for 2020!
Adina Kalish is the Director of Media Relations for Bark.Us, an online parental monitoring tool for tech devices. She is Mom to two teenage daughters, Talia and Ryan, and is passionate about all things child/tween/teen safety, especially when it comes to the internet and smartphone usage.
Bark is offering our PIQ audience 30% off coverage (for life!) if you subscribe between midnight 11/28 and 12/3 by entering the code BARKFRIBLG here. Email Adina for more information.