As a mom, I know how important it is to have peace of mind when it comes to your kids interacting on social media and surfing the internet, which is why I decided to partner with and write a review of the Bark app — the world’s leading parental control software.
This post contains affiliate links.
My honest mom review about Bark parental control software app
Here on the blog, we discuss how parents can create an emotionally and mentally healthy environment for their kids.
With that in mind, one of the most caring and loving things you can do for your child’s mental health is to make sure that what they are filling their minds with, especially when it comes to social media and online activity, is not damaging. Parents should make it their mission, considering our modern culture, to help their kids navigate a healthy relationship with technology.
I honestly have never understood why parents would allow unmonitored or unlimited screen time for their kids. With all the potential dangers out there, even with online gaming — cyberbullying, predators, access to age-inappropriate content (and if we’re honest, curiosity is INGRAINED in every child, so don’t think yours won’t go looking) — it’s time we included this responsibility under our parental umbrella.
Just as you wouldn’t allow your child not to wear a seat belt when driving in the car, the same should be said for internet use.
Here’s the problem with kids and screens – they can escape to their own little world
Let’s not sugarcoat this.
Even for us adults, iPhones, Android devices, tablets, computers, and even TVs are an alternate world we enter.
When your teenager is glued to their phone, they enter this world, created by them and FOR them, and the potential issues that lurk within are many.
This world is full of social media (i.e. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook) or communication apps (i.e. Whatsapp, anonymous messaging apps, Lypsi, Tellonym, etc.) that constantly tell them how inadequate, lame, and imperfect they are because of x, y, and z. It also can begin to define them — by getting more likes or comments, they begin to hinge their worth based on these statistics.
With the click of a button, kids can correct those wrongs that cyberbullies point out — make their teeth whiter, waist skinnier, skin clearer, etc.
Kids already have enough peer pressure at school, from their parents and teachers to get good grades, be star athletes, etc. And social media adds another element of the desired perfection that is continually causing kids to have mental breakdowns and thoughts of suicide.
Not only that, predators are zeroing in on your children, and when no one is monitoring or keeping them accountable, the door is left wide open for them to be taken advantage of.
Drug use amongst young people and the ability to purchase drugs via social media has become a huge problem.
Child psychologists want parents to be aware of these things.
Long story short, unmonitored and unlimited screen time is UNHEALTHY for your child, no matter their age, no matter the gender, and no matter the social media platform.
That is the problem. A problem the Bark app can solve.
Why having accountability with the bark app is a good thing
In today’s culture, accountability has gotten a bad rap. We sometimes confuse our freedom for never having to take responsibility for anything. Part of the problem is that adults don’t want accountability.
There’s a notion that when we reach a certain age, we should be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want.
But as most of us know, this is neither beneficial nor healthy.
The same can be said for children. And if you want to teach your kids about accountability, the best way to do that is through modeling it yourself, as well as starting the habit of web filtering from a young age with an app like Bark.
In our home, ALL of our iOS devices and computers are under the Bark “parental control” umbrella.
Adults aren’t immune to seeing, hearing things, or having interactions via social media or the internet that aren’t edifying in life, which is why every device in our household has web filtering.
This also makes it easier for our children to accept having a parental control software, like the Bark app, because we too have it. This way, we aren’t singling them out as being untrustworthy, but rather encouraging an environment of accountability for the whole family.
It’s so important to teach your kids about accountability so you can walk through their mistakes WITH them, and not just be the judgment raining down on them after they get found out.
We have continuing conversations with our son about accountability and self-control so he can be set up for success when he faces peer pressure or temptation to do something he shouldn’t.
Establishing accountability in your family from when your kids are young, will inevitably help them when they’re older.
But here’s the critical part. Parents can sometimes confuse accountability with control.
We can be consequential WITHOUT being judgemental or making our kids feel like failures, and that starts with a heart-to-heart conversation about the mistake they made.
Here are some benefits of having Bark accountability in your family.
- Instills responsibility
- Leaves no place for shame or hiding your guilt
- Encourages self-control, not out of fear but out of responsibility
- Builds trust with the people around you
- It keeps you safe from damaging experiences
- Establishes mental and emotional health within the family
Why all the negative reviews in the app store about the Bark parental control?
When downloading my Bark Kids app on my son’s iPad, I saw numerous amounts of negative reviews, and I wondered if I had made the right parental control choice.
Low and behold, almost ALL negative reviews were done by kids who felt as though their freedom and privacy were being infiltrated.
First, kids will never truly understand the importance of accountability because…well, they’re kids. They want to have as much unsupervised time as possible on apps like TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat. These apps are designed to do that.
But also, if kids don’t first understand the importance of accountability, they will feel as though their rights are being taken from them.
This is why it’s SO important to have these conversations, tell them WHY you want accountability in the family, and that it’s a positive and beneficial tool for building trust with everyone.
Parents also need to be 100% HONEST about the fact that the Bark app monitors their activity and precisely what it does.
If your teenager one day finds out without having previous knowledge of the app’s installation on their iPhone, it will affect their trust in you as the parent.
What if my child doesn’t like the Bark app?
If you are upfront and honest, but they still don’t like it, tough beans. You’re the parent. And I’m almost 100% sure that they will someday thank you.
Building trust with your child and why the Bark app can help
As my son gets older and starts using his iPad when we aren’t around, I’ve realized how important it is to make sure he’s protected with content monitoring—not only from himself and his curious mind but also from profanity, cyberbullying, and predators.
Sometimes, parents can be a bit naive when it comes to technology and what their kids are experiencing these days. And I wholeheartedly included myself in on that criticism until I started doing my homework.
Before the internet and wi-fi came out, kids found age-inappropriate content even without the click of a button — their curious minds are a good thing that sometimes leads to bad experiences.
With parenting, the hard part comes when your desire to protect your child causes them to feel untrustworthy or like they don’t have any freedom.
So my advice has and always will be about balance.
Building trust with your child first and foremost has to do with your desire to connect with them emotionally, which should always be a parent’s number one goal.
Another aspect we should consider is the fact that kids WILL be exposed to age-inappropriate content, so teaching them what to do with things they shouldn’t have seen or heard is vital. And with apps like Bark, we can prepare our kids for the world they WILL grow up in, not for the one we WANT them to grow up in.
With apps like Bark, we can prepare our kids for the world they WILL grow up in, not for the one we WANT them to grow up in.Hillary Gruener – Word From The Bird Blog
And that’s the beauty of the Bark app.
By changing the sensitivity level based on the specific needs in your family, I truly believe that Bark actually helps BUILD trust between parents and children.
Because Bark believes that safety comes from transparency, you can rest assured that this is how their app operates.
Unlike other parental control apps, Bark monitors the online and in-app activity, so you’re not just blocking them from anything and everything. Instead of telling them they can’t have a social media account, you have Bark do all the heavy lifting for you, making sure they aren’t seeing or doing anything they shouldn’t. And if they have, you’ll get notified immediately, which opens the door to have meaningful and important conversations with your kids.
My son is only 9, so he isn’t old enough to start using social media, texting, or emailing. BUT he does a lot of online learning, uses his iPad for games, or watches YouTube Kids.
Even at his age, there is still a need. In fact, the younger you get your kids accountable in their online activity, as well as understanding the importance of accountability in and of itself, the better.
There is also a feature that allows you to limit their screen time. Have you ever had to tell your child a million times, “It’s time to be done now,” and they don’t “hear” you? Bark eliminates that issue. Time’s up!
Why I chose the Bark app vs. other parental control apps – test it out for 1 Month FREE (USE CODE WORDBIRD at checkout)
When trying to figure out which parental control app was the easiest to use (I’m not so tech-savvy), most innovative, and covered ALL the bases — Mac or PC, Android or iOS smartphones and tablets, social media apps, internet, cyberbullying, images, text messages, and email — I found Bark to hold its weight.
As with anything, testing a product out always proves to be the best way to know if something is right for you. So that’s what I did. And thanks to this generous offer from Bark, use the code(WORDBIRD) at checkout, and you can too for one month, even after your first initial 1-week free trial!
After your free trial is up, it will start your membership, but if you add the code WORDBIRD, it will amount to $0.
What is the Bark app, and what are its monitoring features?
- Bark uses advanced algorithms to detect and proactively alert parents to issues their children face online, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and signs of depression and suicidal thoughts. Bark covers text messaging, YouTube, email, and social media platforms and apps — 4x more than any other child monitoring app. You’ll get automatic alerts to signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, adult content, and more. Bark‘s approach saves parents valuable time and helps build trust between parent and child by only showing potential problems.
- Bark Jr — Bark Jr helps parents and guardians manage when their kids can access the internet on their devices and which sites are appropriate for them to visit. They can also use our Check-Ins feature to know their kids are in a safe place.
- Barkomatic – The Barkomatic is the internet‘s first customizable resource for parental controls. This is an interactive website that allows you to enter all of the technology and devices your child interacts with — from apps and games to phones and tablets — and receive all of the parental control instructions in one convenient location, for free. Until now, parents had to spend hours searching through manuals and hunting online for how to set up parental controls for every device and app. Not anymore. We decided it was time to create a completely free customized guide to keeping kids safe online in one convenient location. No more googling “How to restrict Netflix” or chasing down flimsy instruction manuals in junk drawers. With Barkomatic, you’ll receive an email with a personalized link for only the information you need whenever you want to access it.
- Bark for Schools – When schools give students access to laptops and email accounts through platforms like Google Suite and Outlook 365, an incredible world of learning opportunities opens up — as well as potential dangers. Bark helps you monitor all of the content your students are creating, sharing, and sending through school-issued accounts. Bark for Schools is free (forever!) and available for all public and private K-12 schools in the U.S.
Here are the reasons why the Bark app is the right choice for you
Bark is not only right for you, it’s right for any mom or dad who wants to make sure their kids aren’t experiencing things WAY beyond their maturity level. It protects them from predators, cyberbullies, and SO MUCH MORE.
I guess the question is, why don’t all parents see this as a necessity when it comes to being a good parent and protecting their children?
You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind you will have, knowing your child is protected, and you know about the things going on in their own little world called their “Smart Phone.”
The Perks of Bark Parental Control Software
- Monitoring across 24 social media apps
- Alerts for texts and emails
- Affordable monthly subscription plan
- Compatibility with most devices, including Android and iPhone
- Screen time management
- Tips to help parents start honest conversations with their kids
- Website filtering on all devices
- Works on all browsers – chrome, safari, firefox, and all web browsers
- Easy setup and installation
I hope you will be inspired, knowing that there is something out there that has your back when it comes to protecting your kids from online dangers.
Looking for a kids phone with TOTAL control? Check out the Pinwheel phone – a partner with Bark
Avoiding the “I want a phone” conversation with your tween or teen? I get it. I’ve avoided getting my son a phone for as long as possible. But then I asked myself the other day. Do I want to get my 10yo a phone while he’s still impressionable and more open to being held accountable? Or do I want to get my son a phone when he’s 16, at the height of desiring independence and privacy? If you’re considering getting your child a phone, the Pinwheel phone for kids should be first on your list.
Check out the full review I did after our family tried it out and see how it differs from a normal android or iPhone, with more protection, the ability to filter contacts, and only therapist-approved apps.