Payment apps and their icons

Much like rewinding video tapes and pressing *69, gone are the days of piggy banks and cash allowances. For modern families, many kids receive their hard-earned allowances digitally. But there are a ton of different payment apps out there, so figuring out the best, safest, and least stressful way for your family to do it can be a challenge. To help you out, we researched the top options of cash apps for kids and polled the parents on our team to find out what actually works. Let’s get into it!

What Are Payment Apps, Really?

You’re probably familiar with the O.G. payment app — PayPal. Starting in the late ‘90s, PayPal was the first consumer technology that enabled users to send electronic payments quickly and easily. Since then, as our society has grown more digital, cash has become less common and debit/credit cards the norm. Because of this, tons of payment apps have popped up, from Venmo and Zelle to Cash App and Remitly. Despite being the original, PayPal is not the best cash app for kids.

Many of these apps don’t allow minor users, however, which means that a niche industry of family-focused platforms have popped up in the past few years. These apps allow parents and kids to work together to share financial resources. They often come with debit cards, and many of the popular features include:

Top Options for Families

Apple Cash Family

Age: 13+

Cost: Free

For Apple families, this is probably the most seamless way to send and receive money. Apple Cash Family lets you add children and teens from your Family Sharing group so they can make purchases and send and receive money in Messages or Wallet. Parents can even limit who their children can send money to, get alerts when they make transactions, and lock their accounts. This cash app for kids is a great option for a family of Apple product users.

Google Pay

Age: 16+

Price: Free

Google Pay — available for both Android and iOS users — lets you send and request money, check out swiftly in stores and online, set weekly spend limits, and more. Google Pay also keeps your money and private information safe with built-in authentication, transaction encryption, and fraud protection. Because it’s only for ages 16+ , it’s not extremely useful for families with younger kids just starting out with payment apps. 

Verizon Family Money 

Age: 8+

Price: $5.99/month

Fun fact: You don’t have to be a Verizon customer to use Verizon Family Money. This program provides your child with a debit card (and its virtual option if they put it in their digital wallet). You can then control where they shop, transfer money, and view all of their financial activity. 

Greenlight

Age: 8+

Price: Starts at $4.99/month

More than 5 million parents and kids use Greenlight, a debit card and banking app that comes with a ton of features. Young people and parents have two different experiences on the app — parents set flexible controls and receive real-time alerts while kids monitor their balances, set their own goals and learn how to manage their money. Greenlight also has two additional plans that include investing options and protection plans.

GoHenry

Age: 6+

Price: $3.99/month

If you’re looking for a debit card/payment app that’s big on teaching lessons about money management, GoHenry is a great option. In addition to standard features like spending alerts and controls, kids learn skills through videos, quizzes and more in the app. Plus, your kiddo can even personalize their card by choosing from 45+ bright and colorful designs. 

Traditional banks

If you want to stick to a more traditional approach for your child’s first experience with spending and saving money, many traditional banks offer checking accounts and debit cards for kids, along with companion apps for parents. 

Chase First

Age: 6+

Cost: Only fees associated with having a checking account

With a Chase First account, your child can withdraw money cost-free at more than 16,000 ATMs across the country. Like the payment apps we mentioned above, you can set spending limits, monitor activity, transfer funds, and more. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to have a qualifying Chase checking account before you can add a Chase First Banking account.

Capital One MONEY

Age: 8+

Price: Free

You don’t have to be a Capital One customer to open up a Capital One MONEY account — you can link any external bank account! There are no monthly service fees or balance requirements. The app makes it easy to auto pay allowance, track account activities, and lock your kid’s debit card if you need to.

Payment Apps that Are Surprisingly Off Limits to Kids 

Many payment apps are strictly off-limits to minors. However, some parents may log in with their own credentials on their children’s device, or kids may enter in different birthdays when prompted. Here are some of the payment apps that may surprise you by being for adults only.

Venmo

If you’ve heard of young people Venmo-ing each other, you’re not alone. It happens all the time, but did you know that it’s not allowed according to their terms of service? This doesn’t mean that kids can’t fudge the rules or their age. Venmo can be especially concerning, because there’s social feed feature where users can provide a description of what they’re sending/receiving money for. Some users have even been caught buying drugs on the app. 

Paypal

Paypal may be one of the oldest payment apps, but it’s not for minors. 

Zelle

Zelle is a payment app that’s attached to many popular banking institutions. Like Venmo and Paypal, it’s also not for kids. 

Safety Tips for Your Family’s Payment App 

Whether you’re deciding on your child’s very first payment app or they’re a seasoned pro with Apple Cash Family or Greenlight, it’s important to reinforce good digital privacy habits.

Make sure their passwords are strong for whatever app you’ve chosen. For an extra layer of security, have them set up a passcode for their phone, to

Teach your child about phishing scams. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Stress the importance of recognizing sketchy or illegal activity in emails, texts, and more.

Talk to them about sextortion. It may seem like a scary thing that will never happen, but there have been many recent cases of kids downloading payment apps to send money to strangers who are threatening to send family and friends nude pictures. Bark can help with this concern as it alerts you to any new apps your child downloads — keeping you in the know when it comes to what’s going on in their world. 

Protect their debit card. If your family’s payment app comes with a real-life debit card (a super exciting rite of passage for kids today!), make sure they keep it in a safe place and know not to let anybody else use it. 

Keep the lines of communication open. Talk openly and frequently about money and spending habits. Help them understand that they can always come to you if something seems weird or sketchy. Mistakes are bound to happen, but be there for them if they make a misstep.

For more answers to questions like “what are payment apps?” and more, visit Bark. Bark is a service dedicated to helping parents navigate the ever-changing world of children and technology. Contact Bark today for more information!

Instagram supervision icon

In an effort to help keep young people safer on the platform, Instagram has launched a new feature called supervision. It’s similar to TikTok’s family pairing features, in that it allows parents to link their Instagram accounts to their children’s to provide a little oversight. To use Instagram supervision, parents must be 18 or older, and the child must be between the ages of 13 – 17 and agree to the supervision. 

The Problems with the Instagram Supervision Update

Supervised accounts are not a perfect system, mainly because supervision has to be approved by the child, and once in place, can be removed unilaterally at any time. This means your child has to be 100% okay with being supervised — and stay being okay with it.

Also, setting up supervised accounts can be kind of difficult if your child created an account a while ago using a fake birthday. Supervised accounts are only for kids 13 to 17, and changing a birthday requires you to contact Instagram, which can be a frustrating and lengthy process. 

Lastly, this feature only works on Instagram accounts your child tells you about. They’re still able to log in to other accounts they have that aren’t supervised. 

What Parents Can Do

With this new feature, parents are able to:

Note: You don’t need to be following or followed by your teen’s account to supervise your teen.

What Kids Can Do

The hardest part for Instagram supervision is the fact that kids have to agree to it. This can be a tall order, especially for older kids who have had accounts without supervision for several years. 

In addition to this, kids can:

How to Set Up a Supervised Account

Once you set up a supervised account, you’ll be able to view/edit activity from Family Center, which is accessed from Settings. 

  1. First, make sure that your and your child’s Instagram accounts are recently updated.
  2. From your account, tap your profile icon in the bottom right hand corner.
  3. Tap the three lines in the top right corner. 
  4. Tap Settings.
  5. Tap Supervision.
  6. Tap Create invite.
  7. Text it to your child. They’ll have 48 hours to respond before the invite expires.
  8. Once your child accepts, you’re now set up for Instagram supervision. Follow the on-screen instructions from your Family Center (accessible via Settings>Supervision) to view/make changes to your child’s Instagram settings.
Types of depression in kids header image with boy and emojis

As adults, we often imagine children as perpetually happy, curious creatures. Without grown-up cares and worries, it’s difficult to imagine children being less than joyful when they have so few responsibilities. However, depression often begins in childhood, and recognizing the signs early can be critical to seek proper treatment for your child and framing depression with kindness and compassion.

Unlike adults, children don’t often have the language to describe what they’re experiencing regarding mood disorders like depression. This makes it even more critical for you know and recognize the signs. This article will cover the types of depression disorders in adolescence, the warning signs of depression in kids and teens, and strategies for early detection.

Types of Depression Disorders

Depression is a complex mood disorder that affects millions worldwide. While many don’t develop it until later in life, some people experience their first symptoms and episodes in childhood. Psychologists and specialists have identified several types of depression disorders.

The first two major categories are clinical depression and situational depression. Clinical depression is ongoing and tied to a particular life event, while situational depression follows an emotional upheaval, like losing a loved one. Both types of depression impact a person’s mood and can require treatment, but clinical depression is often chronic.

Other types of depression disorders

Major depressive disorder (MDD): MDD is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest and can interfere with a person's daily life. Symptoms include:

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Unlike MDD, PDD produces periods of depression that can last days to years, followed by brief breaks in symptoms. The symptoms are similar to MDD but can include anger, irritability, low self-esteem, and oversleeping.

Bipolar Disorder: Those experiencing bipolar disorder have episodes of major depression followed by a spell of significantly elevated mood called mania, which can vary in intensity. Those experiencing bipolar disorder can have physical symptoms, including aches and pains in addition to anxiety, irritability, and severe indecision. In extreme cases, bipolar disorder can increase the risk of psychosis, hallucinations, and suicide.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): For adolescents who have begun menstruating, cyclical depression can occur. PMDD goes beyond the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome: irritability, bloating, cravings and fatigue. Those experiencing PMDD have pronounced mood swings, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and can be prone to overeating and bingeing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): During the winter months, SAD can develop, leading to depressed mood, fatigue, and other symptoms of MDD. However, unlike other types of depression disorders, SAD develops alongside seasonal changes, most often in the winter months. The root cause is the disruption of circadian rhythms with decreased sunlight during the winter. SAD is most prevalent in the extreme north and south but can occur anywhere globally. Light therapy can help disrupt and offset the symptoms along with traditional depression treatments.

Atypical Depression: Despite the name, atypical depression is common. Those with this type of depression experience fatigue, increased sleep, physical weakness, increased sensitivity, and highly reactive moods. The patterns of atypical depression are different from the other types of depression disorders. The symptoms can lift in reaction to positive events and return when life becomes “normal” again.

Warning Signs of Depression in Kids

Spotting depression in kids is critical, but it also can be tricky. Since children don’t always have the language or references to explain their symptoms, it often falls to parents, teachers, guardians, and other close adults to recognize depression in kids.

Some common signs of depression in kids are:

While these are common symptoms to look out for, each type of depression has unique patterns and warning signs.

Major depressive disorder (MDD): Children may complain of physical pain, take unnecessary risks, misuse substances, or display a decline in self-esteem. Kids with MDD may also have delayed or arrested social development and consider suicide.

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD): Since PDD has periods of elevated mood, children with this type of depression may seem more functional or appear to be recovering from depression. However, depressive symptoms return, and the longer a child lives with PDD, the more likely they are to develop MDD.

Bipolar disorder: Children with bipolar disorder experience periods of extreme depression followed by mania. Unlike adults, kids with bipolar disorder may throw temper tantrums, display extreme agitation, unnecessary risk-taking, and fast or loud talking. Symptoms of mania and depression will come and go, resulting in changes in behavior that often impact academic performance and personal relationships.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): Depression in adolescent females is often misdiagnosed as PMS or hormonal mood swings. PMDD is a severe disorder that creates cyclical bouts of extreme depression that can affect all aspects of an adolescent’s life. Spot symptoms early by monitoring your child’s behavior, tracking moods, and communicating with them about their experience.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): To spot SAD, monitor differences in mood that occur with the seasons and sun exposure. Children with SAD will develop depression during the winter months when sunlight is reduced and will recover in springtime when days begin to lengthen.

Atypical Depression: Children experiencing atypical depression will show elevated mood and energy levels around events and activities, followed by depression when patterns and routines return to normal.

Monitoring Online Activity for Warning Signs of Depression in Kids

If you believe your child is experiencing depression, you may be looking to identify and document the signs. However, in today’s world, that can be difficult as children spend long hours at school, followed by hours online, either for education or enjoyment. Bark offers several tools to manage your child’s online activity to help keep them safe, including content monitoring, screen time management, and web blocking.

Our monitoring service is probably most helpful in cases of potential depression, as it can detect messages and posts featuring language around depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. We monitor everything from emails and text messages to social media posts, giving you a holistic picture of your child’s interactions and content and providing alerts if something concerning is happening in your child's digital world.

depression slang header image

If you suspect your child may be struggling with depression, you may feel a mix of emotions. From fear and concern to anxiety and powerlessness, it can be a stressful experience for your entire family. It can also be hard to spot — depression can look pretty different in young people than it does in adults. Teens and tweens even talk about it differently, in ways that older generations may not quite understand. 

This blog post contains depression phrases and slang that kids often use to communicate their feelings. Hopefully, this resource will help families notice symptoms earlier and get kids help when and if it’s needed. 

What Is Depression?

Depression is more than just “the blues” or a sad period following a life event like a death in the family. It’s a serious illness that can affect the way you think, feel, and behave. Kids and adults alike can experience depression, but it can present a little differently in younger people. Here are some of the more common symptoms of depression in kids:

Commonly Used Depression Phrases

“Nothing matters”

One of the hallmarks of depression is a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. For kids, this can look like no longer playing video games, quitting after-school sports, or even stopping hanging out with friends and family. 

“Everything is so hard”

Feeling overwhelmed can be a scary experience for anyone, but for kids, it can be even more so. Depression can make the daily tasks of life — like brushing teeth or doing homework — seem nearly impossible. Complicating this struggle, a sense of shame often follows when these tasks are left undone, making the depression even more all-consuming. 

“I’m just so tired”

Sleeping more (or less, in some cases) can be one of the symptoms of depression. It can be hard to tell the cause, though. Poor sleep habits can cause and contribute to depression. At the same time, depression may contribute to disruptions in sleep. Regardless of the cause, however, people with depression aren’t just “sleepy.” Their bodies are tired in ways that others aren’t. 

“You wouldn’t understand”

It can be easy for people struggling with depression to feel like no one else has ever gone through what they’re experiencing. In this way, depression is a bit of like wearing blinders, enabling a false — but seemingly very real —  sense of isolation and alienation. In many cases, the opposite is true — other people in their life can definitely relate to what they’re going through and often want to help in any way they can.

“My stomach hurts”

A child’s body may react differently to depression, and they often don’t have the words to describe these feelings. Stomachaches and headaches are often reported as symptoms in kids struggling with depression as they try to make sense of the scary emotions they’re dealing with.

Depression in Teen Slang

We’ve deciphered some prominent depression slang and depression phrases that kids use to get around the content moderation filters on apps like TikTok. 

Depressy — One of the more common phrases for depression, this is a shortened way of saying “depressed,” but is meant to be darkly humorous.

Grippy sock vacation — Refers to being in psychiatric care, where they give patients socks that have a rough texture on the bottom to prevent them from slipping.

Doom scrolling — The act of staying absorbed in one’s phone to the detriment of their well-being and mental health.

Sewerslide — Code word for “suicide” since it rhymes and can get past social media moderation.

Unalive — Code word for “die” or “kill.” Ex.: Joe tried to unalive himself last night.

I had pasta tonight — Code phrase for expressing that you have suicidal thoughts. 

I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time — Code phrase for expressing that you have suicidal thoughts. 

How Bark Can Help

Signs of depression occur in everyday activities and real-life interactions, but they can also occur in a child's digital activities. Kids may have text conversations using depression slang and phrases for depression, journal about their feelings in a Google Doc much like they would in a diary, or post memes about suicidal ideation on their private social media accounts. Parents don't always have access to these inner workings of a child’s world.  

This is where Bark can help families. By monitoring social media, texts, messaging apps, and email, we help identify and report on alarming digital behavior. Bark’s sentiment monitoring also uses the tone of messages to give parents insight into their child’s emotional state. Together, these insights can help a parent take action sooner so they can support their child when needed.