As a mom, I know how important it is to keep kids safe online. That’s why I use Bark. The parental control app has helped me stay in control of what my children are doing on the internet and when they’re using their devices. It’s easy to set up as well – which is always helpful when you need something right away! Read more for the pros and cons of Bark, the revolutionary software to monitor kid’s internet usage… as seen from a mom’s and parenting coach’s perspective.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT: If you want to try Bark, get a 7 Day Free Trial – PLUS $20 off your annual (or first two months) subscription with our coupon code: WITHHOLLY!
What is Bark?
Bark is a parental control app that allows you to set rules for your children’s devices. It’s the first of its kind to work on both iOS and Android devices. The app blocks access to certain apps or websites, offers 24/7 hour monitoring and also alerts you to suspicious activity.
Bark offers two different levels of service: Bark Premium and Bark Jr.
With Bark Premium, you’ll get all the features Bark has to offer, including online activity monitoring, text monitoring, alerts, etc.
Bark Jr. is perfect for younger users and includes screen time monitoring, content filtering, and location checkins
- Blocks access to specific apps
- Blocks websites with inappropriate content
- Monitors social media, texts, and emails
- Alerts you of suspicious activity
- Monitors device usage*
- Blocks in-app purchases
- Filters content that could be inappropriate for children of a certain age group*
- Customizable settings
- 24/seven monitoring
- Location checkin*
*features included in Bark Jr.
- Works on iOS and Android devices, as well as desktop/laptop computers through browser extensions and applications.
What’s the story behind Bark?
Founded in 2015 by CEO and concerned father of two, Bark monitors online activities for potential issues like cyberbullying, sexual predators, adult content, depression, acts of violence, suicidal ideation. According to Bark.us, they help keep more than 5.6 million children across the U.S. safe online and in real life.
The Problem with Too Much Screen Time
Let’s take a step back and talk about why Bark is necessary. You’ve probably heard that screen time and social media usage are bad for kids. It’s true. Screen time has been shown to impact children’s self-esteem, moods, and even their sleep. One popular study found that children who use screens more than two hours a day are 64% more likely to be obese or overweight when they’re aged between five and 18 years old – as opposed to those children who don’t have any screen time at all!
Social media is an even bigger problem for modern kids. It’s been shown to increase feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. The more time kids spend on social media, the higher their chances are for depression. And social media is addictive. It’s designed to be addictive. Kids can scroll for hours and never know how much time has gone by, not realizing what they’ve been looking at or the effect it’s having on them.
Online bullying is another reason screen time should be limited. When you put a computer screen in front of kids, it’s much easier for them to be bullied. It’s one thing if they’re in a classroom and can see their bullies around the corner. But it’s another when you put them on social media where people don’t have any borders or boundaries.
And for these reasons, we all need to be deliberate about our phone usage and kids need to be held accountable for their screen time.
When we add a level of accountability, kids are more aware of what they’re doing. If there are consequences to their actions, it’s easier for them to learn from mistakes and make better decisions in the future. That’s why Bark is so important – because it helps kids understand their limits without being overly restrictive or intrusive on their lives.
Pros and Cons of Bark
Here are the pros and cons of using Bark to monitor your child’s screen time and internet usage.
- It’s a comprehensive solution
- Blocks inappropriate content
- Helps kids understand limits
- Easy to Set Up
- Parental Controls for Both iOS and Android Devices
- Alerts You to Suspicious Activity
- 24/seven Monitoring and Alerts
- There is a monthly cost
- It’s not compatible with all devices.
Why Bark is the Best Choice
Bark is better than the other choices on the market because it does it all. It’s affordable, easy to use and you can customize your settings based on the age of your children. There are also alerts if there is any suspicious activity happening with their devices – which means less time wasted worrying about what they’re doing online!
When you choose the annual plan, you can get the premium plan for just $8.25 per month and Bark Jr. for just $4.08 per month. If you’d rather pay monthly, you’ll pay $14 per month and $5 per month respectively.
When you use our special discount code, you’ll get $20 off your annual or first two months subscription! Use WITHHOLLY when you sign up.
How to Start Using Bark
The first thing you need to do is sign up for Bark. You can download the app on your device and then create an account.
After that, all you have to do is set up a profile for each of your kids (you’ll be prompted to enter their age range). From there, everything else will happen automatically.
If your child tries to access a blocked site, you’ll get an alert. You can either allow or block them from going there and it will happen in the future as well – so they don’t end up trying again later on.
And if you need any additional help, Bark has customer support that is available 24/7.
Before Bark starts monitoring your kids…
Let your kids know that you’ll be monitoring their activity. Set your expectations, outline the family rules, and define consequences. It’s a good idea to draft a digital media usage contract with your kids. If you get buy-in, you’re less likely to have power struggles later.
Wait, I downloaded Bark, but it has so many negative reviews!
I thought the same thing. But after looking into the details, many of the negative reviews are from disgruntled kids who are upset about having their online activities. Instead of digging into all the negative reviews, I urge you to consider the pros and cons of Bark and decide if it’s worth a try for your family.
For this reason, I highly recommend discussing the app with your kids ahead of time and coming up with online rules and limits together. Full disclosure will help them understand that this is a tool to help them, not punish.
What do I do when Bark sends me alerts?
It’s time to investigate and use your parenting skills to keep your kids safe. Have calm, open conversations and find out what’s going on.
Here are some tips for having a construction conversation with your child:
- Remain calm. Your child is much more likely to be honest and open if you’re cool, calm, and collected.
- Approach the subject from a place of curiosity. Avoid being accusatory. You don’t want your child to get defensive. Instead, ask what happened and what they were thinking in a non-judgmental manner.
- Accept that kids make mistakes and help them learn from it. It’s better if they make mistakes while you’re there to support them!
- Avoid extreme or punitive punishments. This can erode your parent/child relationship, including the trust between you two.
- Get help if you need it. A therapist, counselor, or parenting coach can help you navigate difficult issues.
The Bottom Line
Bark has been an amazing addition to our family because it helps us enforce limits and control online access for my kids, without being too restrictive or intrusive. I love that Bark is a comprehensive solution with parental controls from both iOS and Android devices – no matter what device they’re using!
We’ve outlined the pros and cons of Bark, and now I’m going to encourage you to at least use the free trial and discounted two months using our coupon code. Find out if it’s a good fit for your family. It will keep your kids safe as they navigate the challenges of growing up in our digital age.
What You Should Do Next…
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Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.
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