A few months ago a friend of mine with a house full of teenagers told me about BARK, a monitoring tool for parents to help protect their children/teens from online threats and dangerous content.
I was like cool, I’m glad you have that.. but I watch what my kids are doing, I have a content filter on my wifi. I’m good. But we are a busy family and I wasn’t really monitoring their text messages, their emails or their usage. I said I did, and I have really great kids, so I wasn’t too concerned.
But I haven’t been a public school high school teacher for 20 years for nothing! I knew that we needed more protection. So I asked my friend how the Bark monitoring was going and she raved about it.
So I tried it. And the first week trial was a bust. Why? Becuase you have to actually download the software/app and link your kids accounts. And I just didn’t want to have to fight with my teenager about linking her apps and accounts to the Bark dashboard. It looked time consuming and frustrating. So I let that be my reason for not going through with the trial.
Time moved on and my network of teacher friends and social friends kept telling scary stories of their kids on social media and deleted texts. And with that, I was all on board again. My teenager needed a new phone and I just made that the requirement. As long as we are paying for your needs and wants, we will require Bark to protect you.
The initial set up took about 30 minutes for the teen and about 10 minutes for the tween as she doesn’t have the same volume of content.
The first time I got an email stating that a potential issue needed to be reviewed, I was like OH CRAP! (That was day 1.) But I clicked on the link and saw that it wasn’t a thing. My teen and her father had been having a discussion about violence in America and she had googled content. It was a great start! No real issue was at hand, but the conversation was started about me seeing potential threats.
A few days later I got an email about her friends not so nice words being used in text messages. This allowed her to tell her friends that I don’t see content UNLESS it has profanity or inappropriate content. And that I see it whether or not she deletes it.. so just don’t send it!
And what about the tween? Well, she has been flagged for potential bullying. It was her text to her sister!!
Not every conversation has been easy. Some reviews made me stop and question what is allowable on You Tube, for both girls!
So if you are concerned about the content that your children have access to or see, I would highly recommend BARK! We still have our content filtered using Circle and we extensively use the Apple Screen Time tools, but BARK has filled a hole that we didn’t realize wasn’t actually a pothole, but a pathway. We now have a gatekeeper to that pathway and I have peace of mind.
And yep, I love Bark so much that I am now an ambassador for Bark Across America!