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Best Parental Control App of 2022 – A Parent Coach’s Review

If you’re a parent and you’ve done some research to find the best parental control app out there, you’ve most likely come across Bark parental controls. Parenting in a tech world might feel overwhelming for some, but thankfully, Bark has made it their mission to have your back when it comes to monitoring your child’s online activity, managing screen time, blocking websites, and so much more. Not only that, their team of experts is continuously researching the latest data on kids and technology to better equip and educate parents on how to keep their children safe online.

If you’re a parent who’s simply looking for a parental control app to put on your child’s already existing phone, then continue reading about the best option for that.

But if you’re a parent who hasn’t yet purchased a phone, you should check out the new Bark kid’s phone. With Bark already downloaded on it, this phone is affordable, can grow with your child, and has EVERYTHING you need to keep your child safe online while giving them a phone they will love.

Bark is the kind of company parents need on their side in today’s tech world. Not only is it hard to keep up with the latest in parenting tweens and teens in general, but it’s also challenging to know where to look for help or what to do when it comes to what kids experience online.

As a parenting educator and coach, it’s my mission to help parents best navigate protecting their kids from online dangers. From what I’ve experienced, most struggles within the family are related to online activity in some way – whether it’s needing advice on how to help their child cope with cyberbullying, insecurities related to social media, or screen time addiction.

It begs the question – If we don’t monitor what our kids see, hear, and experience online, are we doing our job as a parent to help them succeed emotionally and mentally?

What is the Bark Parental Control App?

Bark is a parental control app that helps keep kids safe. It’s an invaluable tool for families that allows you to monitor your child’s smartphone or device with technology that was created in collaboration with world-renowned experts on child development, safety, and education. 

With content monitoring, screen time management, and web blocking as the top Bark features, parents can rest assured that all their bases are covered when having this parental control app downloaded to their child’s device.

The Bark app is designed to be easy to use for parents and spans all devices that kids might be using. It’s compatible with iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire Kindles, and Chromebooks.

As an added bonus, parents can also layer in Bark Home to manage screen time and block websites on all devices their kids might be using while in the home that the Bark app does not cover – smart TVs, gaming consoles, Oculus quests, and just about any device that connects to your home internet. 

The Bark app (or your dashboard if you’re accessing through a web browser) allows you to review your child’s top activities, alerts, installed apps, and more. 

One of the best parts about Bark is that it can adjust to your family’s needs as your child matures and earns more freedom. And since it’s subscription-based, you’re able to use the app for as long as you have children in your home (or until they reach the age of 18).

It was featured on Forbes best parenting apps of 2018 and it has been named one of the best parental control software for kids in more than 200 articles published by national media outlets such as Today, MSNBC, USA Today among others. 

Bark has been one of the best resources for parents in terms of monitoring their children’s online activity since it was first released in 2015. 

bark annual report

Bark’s 2021 Annual Report on Children and Technology

Along with being the leading parental control app out there, Bark also conducts annual research on children and technology. In 2021, Bark analyzed 3.4 billion messages across texts, email, and 30+ social media platforms to give parents and guardians insight into what it’s like growing up in a tech world. This information gives parents the tools they need to keep their children safe, especially with the increasing mental health issues going on with young people today. 

Check out some of the data from their latest annual report.

In 2021, Bark saw a 25.15% increase in alerts for self-harm and suicidal ideation among kids ages 12-18, as compared to 2020. 

43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation.

68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature.

19.69% of tweens and 42.05% of teens used language about or were exposed to anxiety.

75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol.

72.09% of tweens and 85.00% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.

32.11% of tweens and 56.40% of teens engaged in conversations about depression.

9.95% of tweens and 20.54% of teens encountered predatory behaviors from someone online.

80.82% of tweens and 94.50% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts.

As you can see, Bark is not only monitoring your child’s device, but they are taking note of what’s going on in our online world at large to educate parents on how to best protect their kids. 

What Can Bark Monitor?

Bark monitors a variety of things on your child’s devices (Both Android and Apple devices).

Bark will monitor:

– Text messages

– Emails

– 30+ social media apps

– YouTube

– Web browsing 

– Location tracking (GPS) – No more having to open a map app to see where your kid is — Bark automatically alerts you when they arrive at or leave a location you’ve added!

How Much Does Bark Cost?

The Bark app is very affordable with a few different pricing options. There is no free version of Bark, but it does offer a 7-day free trial for those wanting to test the product out before the purchase. (Don’t forget to use THIS LINK before you sign up to get an extra month free!)

Bark’s premium version costs $14/month for unlimited children and unlimited devices. You can save a lot of money by selecting the annual payment of only $99 a year!

This price includes all of the features listed above, as well as: 

– A dedicated support team 

– Alerts for issues like cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, and more

– Screen time management

– Website and app blocking

– Locations – Request location check-ins from your child and receive automatic notifications for arrivals and departures to locations you set.

–  Sensitivity controls so you can edit the types of alerts you get

Bark Jr

Bark Jr only costs $5/mo ($49 annually) and is great for families with younger children who don’t have social media yet.

Bark Home

Bark Home plugs into your home Wi-Fi router and lets you manage screen time and filter websites on gaming consoles, TVs, and more. Here’s what Bark has to say about it:

​​”The internet can be a pretty scary place, and you probably don’t want your kids stumbling across porn, violence, adult content, and other inappropriate subject matter.  Bark’s powerful web filter lets you select which websites your child can access on their devices. You can allow or block specific sites — or even whole categories like streaming services, online gaming, sexual content, and more.” More info on Bark Home. 

How does Bark work?

Bark uses AI machine learning to monitor your child’s online activity. Once set up, Bark will start monitoring all device activity including voice memos via text, texts, social media, and more. 

Bark then sends parents alerts via text or email as potentially dangerous situations are detected.

What Devices are Bark Compatible With?

The Bark parental control app is available for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod), Android phones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets, and Chromebooks.

bark features

Barks Premium Features: 

– Monitors texts, 30+ social media platforms and apps, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Snapchat, and more.

– App and website blocking, including Google Chrome and Edge

– Monitors email 

– Monitors web browsing history 

– 24/hour support team

– Monitor emojis and teen slang disguised words (Teen slang guide every parent should know.)

– Parental restrictions for different age ranges

-Alerts when potential concerns are detected

– Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android phones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets, and Chromebooks

– Virtual setup help with Bark’s team of experts 

– Blocks pornography and age-inappropriate content

– Location tracking

Bark’s best feature is the way that it breaks down all of your child’s activity into categories that are displayed within your parent dashboard. It is the best parental control app because it provides a comprehensive view of your child’s online activity while being easy to use — an invaluable tool for parents who want to keep their kids safe online. 

Does Bark monitor TikTok and Snapchat?

Because of Apple’s restrictions, Bark cannot currently monitor TikTok or Snapchat. On Android devices, Bark can monitor TikTok direct messages (text only). Even though Bark cannot fully monitor these platforms, it’s much better than having no parental control at all. Parents have a higher probability of knowing what’s going on in their child’s online world, no matter the device when Bark is in place. 

Does Bark let parents manage the type of alerts they get?

Bark has a sensitivity level feature that allows parents to choose what kinds of alerts they’d like to receive for each kind of issue — this makes the service more manageable and less overwhelming for parents. 

Benefits of Using the App

Imagine having complete peace of mind when your kids are using their devices, knowing that you will receive alerts for potential cyberbullying that could cause your child to have suicidal thoughts? 

You can address issues quickly and have meaningful conversations to help them process what just happened. That is exactly what Bark does for families. 

There might be concerns from parents and kids that this invades privacy. 

First of all, accountability is not a bad thing, and the sooner we teach our kids that, the better. Here is some advice on how to talk with your kids about Bark and what it does. 

Secondly, Bark actually gives your kids more privacy than the old-school method of scrolling through every message. Instead of having to take the time to pore through their phone every night, you can give them a little freedom while being confident that you’ll be alerted to anything potentially harmful. Win-win!

Also, the more you know as a parent, the better. Bark has an incredible team working behind the scenes who have your child’s best interest in mind. Their blog is full of helpful advice for parenting life — app reviews, staying current in the world your child is growing up in, what they are facing at school and how you can best help them.

As I said before, accountability is good. So the younger you implement this mindset into your home, the better. 

Why is Bark the Best Parental Control App?

Not only is Bark the most comprehensive parental control app for families, but it’s also easy to use, affordable, and proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind.

Along with all the perks and features mentioned above, Bark offers a 7-day free trial (use this link to get an extra one months free) so you can try it before you buy it. 

Parental control apps are best used in addition to other safety strategies, such as talking with your child about internet safety and nurturing a home environment that is free of judgment, where your kids can feel safe to come to you with anything.

But since Bark is like having an extra set of eyes watching your kids, it can be a great way to provide extra protection against cyberbullying and other online threats.

Easily downloadable on any Android or iPhone device, Bark will change the way you think about parental controls.

Here are just some of Bark’s best features: 

Block Apps and Websites 

With Bark, parents can quickly and easily block websites that are not appropriate for their children’s age group. Even though Bark can block any app that’s on the child’s device (and let you know which apps have been downloaded), it does not prevent downloads. That’s easy to do, however, on the device itself. You can require a parent’s passcode whenever the child wants to download an app. So, coverage on all sides!

Read more about blocking sites/apps.

Set Time Limits (It’s homework time!)

Bark lets parents create screen time schedules for each device, so kids can’t just keep going and going until it’s bedtime. Parents can also set limits on specific apps that are only for educational purposes. 

Social Network Safety Monitoring 

Bark monitors conversations your kids might be having with strangers online, and even lets parents know about inappropriate social media interactions. With Bark’s location features, you can request check-ins to see where they are. You can also get alerts when they arrive at or leave frequently visited places.

Text Message Monitoring 

Don’t worry about what kind of messages are being sent between your kids and their friends —Bark keeps parents in the loop by monitoring text messages for cyberbullying. By setting the sensitivity level, you won’t be alerted to every single text message between them and their friends, which helps respect their privacy. 

Email Monitoring 

Another key concern for parents is what their kids might be emailing about. Bark monitors emails and attachments and alerts parents if there’s anything inappropriate.

Monitor 30+ Social Networks 

From Snapchat to Instagram, Facebook to Kik, Bark monitors over 30 of the top social media platforms and apps for safety concerns.

bark monitoring features

How to get started using the Bark app

Once you’ve downloaded Bark, you’ll create an account and add your child’s name and birthdate. From there, you’ll be asked to connect the device(s) that your child is using. The process is a little different depending on whether your child has an iOS or Android device.

If you’re looking for the best parental control app that will help keep your kids safe online, be sure to check out Bark! Not only as a parenting educator and coach do I recommend this parental control app, but also as a mom who uses it with her kids. With a 7-day free trial (with this link get an extra month!), and a team of experts who are always updating their safety features, you can’t go wrong.