Between computer screens, smartphones and TV, American teens spend an average of nine hours a day watching or using screens. While your child may enjoy connecting with friends or might be working on important school work, excessive screen time can have serious consequences.
According to the Mayo Clinic, extended screen time can lead to headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck and back pain and difficulty concentrating—all symptoms of eye strain from screens. If you want to protect your kids from digital eye strain symptoms or are just looking for some ways to ease your own computer eye strain symptoms, check out these five easy tips below that’ll help you give your eyes a break.
5 Tips To Protect Kids From Digital Eye Strain Symptoms
1. Keep the 20/20/20 Rule in Mind
One of the most powerful ways to reduce eye strain is to take periodic breaks. These don’t have to be huge interruptions into your day but can be fit into your usual schedule with a short exercise known as the 20/20/20 rule. The 20/20/20 rule asks screen users to take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Less than one minute of your time to prevent day-draining digital eye strain symptoms? Yes, please.
2. Blink Often
Did you know that when you view computer or phone screens, you blink less often than if you were reading a printed page? Blinking helps refresh and moisten your eyes, keeping them hydrated and happy. So the less you blink, the more likely your eyes will dry out, leading to painful, irritated lenses and blurry vision. The simple remedy to this problem—make a conscious effort to blink more often while playing or working on screens.
3. Consider Artificial Tears and Perscription Glasses
Sometimes blinking more often just doesn’t cut it. If you are struggling with dry, irritated eyes after working on your screen all day, consider picking up some eye drops or artificial tears from your local drugstore or your eye doctor. On the other hand, if you are struggling with seeing your screen early in the day, consider visiting your eye doctor to see if you need corrective glasses.
Many people that don’t require glasses in their day-to-day life can often benefit from corrective lenses when it comes to screen time. Steer clear of contacts that can increase dry eye symptoms, though and instead opt for glasses that can block excess air and drying of the eye. As for blue light glasses, doctors worldwide agree that while blue light glasses can’t hurt, they don’t really help either. Studies have found that they have no significant effect on digital eye strain symptoms—as blue light is not a contributing factor to eye strain.
4. Adjust Your Lighting
Doctors recommend that you keep the room softly lit to reduce eye strain when it comes to watching TV. In general, screens should be dust free, in focus and at a brightness level that matches the room lighting around you. It’s also essential that there’s no glare on your screen from other light sources above or behind you. Consider turning off bright overhead lights and pulling down your blinds to make things easier on your eyes. If turning off or down the lights isn’t an option, consider purchasing an anti-glare screen protector.
5. Move Your Screen
Laptops are often the worst offenders when it comes to digital eye strain. While it may be tempting to work with your computer in your lap on the couch, the impact of just a few hours spent looking down at your screen can strain your eyes and neck. The optimal position for any computer screen is directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away, with the top of your screen at or just below eye level.
How to Keep Your Kid’s Digital Health in Tip-Top Shape
While these tips can help with digital eye strain symptoms, a break from screens may be just what your kid needs at the end of the day. If you’re at a loss on how to talk to your kid about healthy screen time, check out our guide here. Need a helping hand to enforce your screen time rules? Bark can help you set screen time limits on your child’s devices with just the touch of a button.
It's a teen takeover. Today many of the world’s most popular shows are centered around teens and their coming-of-age stories. From Netflix’s No. 1 Ginny & Georgia to Hulu’s viral Cruel Summer series, these stories are packed with drama, suspense, and young love.
But for all their entertainment value and little nuggets of wisdom, there are quite a few plot points and scenes that make some of TV’s top-billed teen shows decidedly not for teens. From the glamourization of cyberbullying to violence, drug use, sex, and self-harm, we’ve compiled a list of shows about teens that aren’t for teens and should be skipped or watched with an adult.
Seven More Shows That Aren’t For Teens
Ginny & Georgia — Rated TV-14 for sex, self-harm, language, and mature content
This dramedy follows the journey of Georgia and Ginny, a mother-daughter duo, as they relocate to a new town and delve into their relationships while also grappling with the hidden and ominous secrets from their past. With a witty and honest back-and-forth dialogue between mother and daughter, many draw comparisons to 2000s favorite Gilmore Girls—but that’s where the similarities stop. Ginny & Georgia has a decisively darker, more mature tone than Gilmore Girls. Characters struggle with abusive relationships, turn to self-harm behaviors, and indulge in drugs and alcohol at a young age.
While identifying toxic relationships and learning more about the dangers of self-harm are two important topics that teens can learn from, without dialogue from their parents guiding them through these difficult themes, teens might glamourize abusive relationships and normalize dangerous behaviors as just another part of teenage life.
Elite — Rated TV-14 for sex, violence, and alcohol
This Spanish-language drama takes place in a prestigious private high school and follows the complicated lives of its students as they navigate relationships, power dynamics, love, and murder. The show depicts mature themes, including outright physical violence and emotional manipulation. Characters are also shown using and selling drugs and participating in toxic romantic and platonic relationships.
Parents should be aware that these mature themes, although explored in a fictional setting, may not be suitable for younger viewers. While the show shines a light on class dynamics, privilege, and pressure to succeed, most, if not all, of the main characters model harmful behaviors and often act on impulse taking things to the extreme.
Stranger Things — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content
A nostalgic fan-favorite, this science-fiction/horror series is set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The show primarily centers on the mysterious disappearance of a young boy and the strange events that occur in the aftermath, including the arrival of a girl named Eleven. The show features supernatural elements, including a parallel universe called the Upside Down, with creative and downright frightening monsters that threaten the town's residents.
As the seasons of Stranger Things have progressed, the creatures have gotten more terrifying — think mind-controlling demons — and the themes more mature. While the show certainly offers valuable lessons about the strength of friendship, bravery, and the power of imagination for many, the gruesome violence and haunting monsters have pushed this show toward a more mature audience and away from teen viewers.
The 100 — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content
This post-apocalyptic sci-fi series is set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse wiped out almost all life on Earth. The show follows a group of 100 teenage delinquents who are sent from a space station to the ground to test if it is habitable once again. The characters are forced to navigate the dangerous and unpredictable new world and the political and interpersonal conflicts that arise among them.
Parents and teens praise the centering of a strong female lead at the show’s core but particularly dislike the violent and gory themes often featured in the plot. From graphic images of characters impaled by spears, strung up in trees, and subjected to torture, this show may not be suitable for all viewers, particularly younger ones.
Skins — Rated TV-MA for sexual content, drug use, and language
This 2000’s-era British teen drama explores the complexities of teenage life and the struggles of growing up. It follows a group of high school students navigating the ups and downs of adolescence, including relationships, sexuality, identity, and substance abuse. The show is known for its frank and controversial depiction of the grittier sides of teenage life.
While Skins gets rave reviews from older viewers, parents note that the aggressive drug use, illicit student-teacher relationships, and numerous sex scenes put it off limits to younger kids and iffy for teens. If your child is watching Skins, it's important to address the way toxic relationships, sex, and drugs are glamourized throughout the show and how these risky behaviors can have serious consequences.
Teen Wolf — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content
This supernatural drama follows teenager Scott McCall as he navigates life as a newly transformed werewolf while also dealing with typical teenage struggles such as relationship issues, school problems, and family drama. Parents and teens applaud the successful six-season show for its entertaining plot and ability to deal with important coming-of-age issues.
That being said, there are certainly violent and gory themes at the show’s core. Bodies are cut in half. Characters are sacrificed, hunted, kidnapped and tortured regularly. Viewers also note the absence of hardly any good adult role models and the frequent appearance of alcohol and drugs at parties.
Cruel Summer — Rated TV-14 for violence, sex, and frightening scenes
This mystery-thriller follows two young women, Jeanette and Kate, over the course of three summers in the 1990s after one of the women is abducted. The show has a modern focus on popularity, exclusion, and the social dynamics of teen girls. It is lauded for its unflinching take on cyberbullying and fitting in in the digital age as well as the lengths teens will go to get the approval of their peers.
The tone of the show is undoubtedly dark, with an abduction plot that features a teen girl confined and abused by an adult man. The show also touches on domestic violence, with a teen boy hitting a girl in the nose and making her bleed. After a short apology, she forgives him immediately. Between these scenes and the heavy mental health components of the show, parents should consider talking with their older teens about these mature themes and keeping the show off-limits for younger viewers.
How to Manage What Your Kid is Watching
With all of the available streaming services, networks, and channels, it can be challenging to ensure everything your child is watching is age-appropriate. Bark helps save you time and takes the guesswork out of finding a fun family feature by providing parental controls that allow you to observe, block, and control certain apps. Start your free 7-day trial today.
Be sure to check out part one of our TV shows about teens that aren't for teens!
Have you noticed the excitement over artificial intelligence (AI) lately? You may have first noticed the technological advances when automated chatbots started popping up on most websites. Perhaps you know the frustration of trying to get through the bot to speak with a human only to receive the same automated, generic responses over and over.
It's like the automated phone systems that have frustrated us for years are suddenly unleashed on the internet. Thankfully, there are some less frustrating and more exciting advances in AI technology. Many are showing up as AI trends on social media, which means you and your children are likely seeing and maybe even participating in them.
While some of these trends are a lot of fun, they also come with some serious risks. Before you download the next big AI app or give your child the green light on that silly Facebook game, take a moment to consider the downsides of social media AI applications.
The State of AI Technology Today
Artificial intelligence is the science of training computers to function as humans. There are four main types of artificial intelligence, and each requires a different level of technological innovation. Understanding these types will tell you where we are today and where the technology is expected to go in the future.
- Reactive Machines – The most basic form of AI. Machines process real-time requests or data without storing information or learning and developing advanced skills. They simply react to incoming stimuli. Many chatbot applications fall into this category. They read for keywords and deliver pre-written responses.
- Limited Memory – Machines process real-time data while storing information and using it to develop more advanced skills over time. Incoming information is saved in a growing knowledge database, so the machine becomes smarter with time.
- Theory of Mind – The ability of limited memory machines is combined with an introductory level of emotional recognition and response. The machine collects hard data and stores it but can also pick up on human emotions and make future predictions based on all collected information. Imagine if you threw a few angry cusswords at a chatbot, and they understood that you were frustrated.
- Self-Aware AI – Machines develop a sense of self and have emotions of their own. They understand our emotions, words, and behaviors but also think about their own needs, desires, and emotions.
Today’s AI technology falls into the Limited Memory category. While Alexa may remember what you ordered from Amazon last week, she doesn’t pick up on your emotions as you ask for a reminder to call your mom at 3 p.m. or a weather report at 4 a.m.
What Alexa does is record and store a lot of information. If you have one of Amazon’s home assistant devices, that information may include private conversations that you don’t want anyone else to hear, let alone want to have recorded. That’s an example of the risks that come with the convenience and fun of AI, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.
The Biggest Social Media AI Trends Today
The use of AI in social media was an $800 million industry in 2020. It’s expected to become an industry worth more than $3,500 million by 2026. Much of that activity was attributable to marketers using AI to focus ad campaigns on select groups. That is shifting now with the development of AI apps that allow users to simply have fun while on social media platforms.
Here are some of the AI trends you may notice on social media platforms today:
- Special Effects – AI is used to add special effects to videos or live video streams. TikTok’s Effect House is a great example. Users can add a variety of digital effects to their own faces or create background scenery to hide their current location when going live. Creators have been playing with the effects with some amusing and creative results.
- AI-Generated Text – AI writing programs like Jasper are promoting their services for social media ads, blog posts, marketing copy, and much more. They create text of any length on any topic in just seconds.
- Photoshopping – Photoshopping was once considered taboo, but it’s all the rage on social media right now. AI apps are used to look at pictures and translate them into drawings or specialized artwork with a variety of decorative filters. Some of the more advanced AI art generators create artistic images without the use of filters, but the results often take hours rather than seconds.
- Predictions – Some of the oldest technologies take basic information from a social media profile and generate some sort of prediction. Some predict elements of personality, while others predict the future, romantic status, and more. Some applications require you to answer a few questions, while others simply analyze your picture and/or profile.
All of these social media AI trends have their own risks. To show what you should look out for, we’re going to focus on AI art generators in more depth.
AI Art Generators – What are They?
AI art generators are applications that turn existing images into artistic or creative images. It’s the AI version of going to a street fair or amusement park and paying an artist to sketch your face as a cartoon. The difference is that these advanced apps can generate 20 or more images in just a few hours or even less. Some apps turn a single image into a creative work of art in just seconds or minutes.
This is one of those AI trends that look like pure fun. How can something that allows people of all ages to act silly and laugh while connecting with others be harmful? It may seem harmless, but we’re going to show you the risks in just a moment.
There are two popular AI art generators appearing on social media today:
- Lensa – A photo-editing tool that allows users to correct imperfections, blur backgrounds, and special effects to pictures. The new AI generator tool requires users to pay a small fee in addition to the annual subscription fee. Check out our app review for more in-depth information on Lensa!
- AI Time Machine – A free photo-editing tool that turns pictures into artistic representations of specific historical times. Users can turn their images into Vikings, flappers, hippies, and more.
If you use social media regularly, perhaps you’ve seen some of these AI-edited photos on some of your friends’ profiles. From cartoon caricatures to hand drawings, there is a wide range of applications for these AI trends.
What are the Dangers of Using AI Art Generators?
Let’s start by pointing out that many users have a false sense of security when using AI in social media apps. They realize that they’re sharing pictures from their profiles or photos stored on their phones and computers, but they don’t realize what permissions they’re giving and what is often associated with those pictures.
“Your photos are posted and transmitted to others at your own risk. Please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”
Access to Personal Information
The Lensa app collects the following information from all users:
- Device information, including IP address, unique device identifier, browser type, mobile network information, and operating system
- Photo metatags, including where the photo was taken (geotags)
- Online activity, including activity on third-party websites and other online services
Some social media AI apps also collect information from your online profiles, including your name, birth date, and other sensitive information. A lot of this information is used to group users by a variety of demographics for marketing purposes.
“Although we do our best to protect your collected information, we cannot guarantee the safety of the collected information transmitted to or through Prisma or an absolute guarantee that such information may not be accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed.”
There were more than 4,000 known data breaches in 2022. There’s clearly a risk of any information collected by an app being leaked at any moment. The more they’re allowed to collect, the more consumers have on the line when these breaches occur.
Lack of Consumer Protection
There are laws that at least partially control what developers and organizations can do with the information they collect from consumers using AI apps and other technologies. Unfortunately, those protections are only valid within the United States.
Many social media users have no idea that these apps are using the services of providers in other countries. They also don’t think about the lack of consumer protection and security regulations in those other countries.
Inappropriate Content for Minors
Not all content on social media AI apps is appropriate for younger users. Parents and guardians may think that the images generated by a photo-editing app look like cartoons, drawings, or other innocent creative expressions. Unfortunately, there are often adult images and components hidden within the app. Some children may see and hear those components without their parents knowing.
You may have to dig around to find the recommended age limit for every application your children want to use, but it’s worth the effort. In a moment, we’ll talk about how you can set social media and AI boundaries for your children and make sure the rules are enforced in real-time.
How to Protect Yourself & Your Children with Advancing AI Social Media Trends
What can you do to protect yourself and your children with advancing AI in social media? We have a long list of suggestions. The more of these you implement, the safer you may feel online.
- Enable firewalls on all electronic devices
- Run anti-spyware and anti-virus software on all devices
- Only open files and attachments from known and trusted senders
- Vary passwords between accounts and devices
- Never give passwords to other people
- If you receive an account verification code to access a platform, app, or service, never give that code to anyone else – including someone representing themselves as a company representative!
- Stay informed of new trends and determine what is safe for your children
- Take the time to read privacy policies and other information provided by app developers, the government, and technology companies
Keep Your Kids Safe in the World of AI
We promised to tell you how to set boundaries for your kids on social media and enforce your rules in real time. Here it is: Sign up for Bark!
The Bark app allows you to monitor the content your children are consuming while filtering websites and apps that you don’t want them to access. You can set location alerts so that you know when your child breaks a specified geographical boundary or monitor screen time without taking physical possession of a child’s device.
It’s important to research all applications, websites, and platforms that your child wants to use. Once you decide the rules and limitations for using those resources, Bark makes it easy to enforce the rules with your child. It’s a powerful app that gives parents more control in a world with so many hidden dangers and risks.
**This post was updated on August 8, 2023.**
We all remember being a teenager and the drama that surrounded the dating scene. Fast forward to today and you're now probably hearing your kids talk about their friends who got cuffed and started simping for their bae. Or about the situationships that are about to have the dreaded DTR conversation.
If those sentences made absolutely no sense to you, then you’re in the right place! The dating scene looks — and sounds — a little different than when we were in grade school. So we put together a Gen Z dating slang guide to help parents know exactly what all of these terms mean.
Let’s jump in!
2023 Gen Z Slang Guide for Dating and Relationships
Bae — Short for “baby." Often a pet name for a crush or significant other.
Benching — Just like in sports, benching someone in dating means putting them to the side to date other people. Benching is usually brought on when they do something to annoy or upset you.
Breadcrumbing — When someone leads you on by flirting and making you feel special but without any intention to actually commit to a relationship. What's left is a "breadcrumb" trail that keeps you attached.
Cuffing / Cuffing season — "Cuffing" simply means to get into a relationship. "Cuffing season" specifically refers to winter, when you’d want someone to snuggle with while it’s colder outside.
DTR — Stands for "define the relationship." This usually occurs after the “talking phase” (see below) when both parties have expressed feelings and it’s time to decide if both want to make it official.
Gaslighting — This has become a popular term on the internet but it refers to a form of psychological manipulation in which a significant other makes you feel crazy or wrong, even when unjustified.
Ghosting — A term that’s been around for quite a while now, ghosting is essentially getting dumped with no explanation. One day you’re talking to each other and things seem fine — the next day, radio silence and the relationship is over. People often ghost instead of dumping someone.
GYAT — 1. Acronym that stands for "get your act together". 2. Shortened term for "godd**n" used to express approval or excitement. Often it's used in response to seeing a girl that one finds attractive (particularly with a curvy body).
Ick factor — Similar to a red flag, the ick factor is when there’s a certain quality or trait about another person that you just simply don’t like. It’s usually small things, but they can add up to make that person undateable. Some popular examples from the internet include when guys wear flip-flops or when girls wear too much makeup.
ILY — An acronym for “I love you.”
Pink flags — Based on the idea of red flags, pink flags are on step down. They aren’t huge warning signals that something is wrong, but they can hint that this relationship isn’t super healthy.
Rizz — Stemming from the word “charisma”, rizz is similar to having “game" — specifically with romantic pursuits.
Simp — Refers to a “try-hard”, or someone who goes way out of their way to do things for their crush or significant other.
Smash — A term that means to have casual sex.
Snack — Used to describe an attractive person; someone who looks good enough to eat. Sometimes spelled "snacc."
Sneaky link — Refers to someone you’re seeing or hooking up with secretly.
Situationship — Describes two people who are not officially dating but who have feelings for each other.
Talking / Talking phase — This term describes the phase between flirting and official dating. This means you’re probably texting this person more than other people in your life but you’re nowhere near ready to be exclusive. For example, it’s common to hear “No, I’m not dating anyone. But me and this guy from another school are talking.”
Thirsty — To be desperate for romantic and/or sexual attention.
Zaddy — Refers to an attractive, well-dressed man. Often, it’s an older man — think Jeff Goldblum or Idris Elba.
Zombie-ing — This happens after someone ghosts you, and then decides to start talking to you again like nothing ever happened. A “coming back from the dead,” if you will.
The Never-Ending Gen Z Slang
So there you have it! Now you are properly prepared to navigate your teen’s dating lexicon. But of course, Gen Z slang is always changing and evolving. Did you know Bark's monitoring service can actually decipher what kids are saying to find potential issues? You'll get alerts for concerning content in texts, emails, and social media — even if it's new slang or emojis! Start your 7-day free trial today.
Being a teen can sometimes feel lonely and isolating. In the digital age, however, new friends and connections are seemingly just a click away. This means more and more teens are turning to social networking sites and dating apps to make connections every day. One of the most popular? An app called MyLOL.
While your teen or the MyLOL website may tell you that it’s engineered to be a safe space for young people, dangers loom underneath the surface. Read on to learn more about what MyLOL is, if it’s a safe space for your teen, and how you can talk with your teen about online dating apps.
What is MyLOL?
Mylol brands itself as the No. 1 teen dating site in the USA, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The website claims to have over 1 million teenagers 13–19 years old from around the world who are happy to chat and form a connection.
At the time of writing this article, the MyLOL app is no longer available for download on the Apple or Google Play app stores. However, teens (or anyone for that matter) can make a profile on the website and begin interacting with other users in a variety of ways.
Here are just a few of the things you can do on MyLOL
- Share your profile. Users can customize their profile with pictures, sexual orientation, quiz questions, videos and interests. You can browse profiles based on your preferences and send “friend requests” to people you want to get to know.
- Chat in groups. There is a large user-wide group where everyone can chat on various topics. This is a fun way to come together with others and talk about similar interests.
- “Shout” or write on your wall. Express yourself by posting anything from random thoughts to photos (pending approval). Users can filter their news feed to show updates from the friends on their list or people in their area.
- Upvote popular users. This is a way of making some members more visible. You can decide if a person deserves to be on the “Popular members” list and appear on the homepage.
- Message people privately. Talk directly with other users on a one-on-one basis.
Is MyLOL safe?
Despite the idea that MyLOL should be a safe place for teens 13-19 to socialize without worrying about adults, a quick Google search will pull up pages of poor parental reviews and harrowing news stories.
These are just a few of the dangers of MyLOL
- Fake profiles. While MyLOL is set up for teens 13–19, it’s easy to bypass this barrier simply by entering a fake birthday and photo. There is no age verification system, so there have been multiple reports of users far older than 19 joining the platform and preying on young teens.
- Unmonitored private messaging. Even if users are in the authorized age range, parents note that the content of private messages often turns sexual and inappropriate quickly. While you can block profiles if they send you inappropriate content, often, the damage is already done.
- Sexual and inappropriate photos. MyLOL maintains that it monitors all uploaded images for nudity, sexual and inappropriate content. However, many users note that this doesn’t stop hundreds of suggestive photos from being used on the platform.
- Upvoting and bullying. Much like the bygone days of “hot or not” apps, the cutthroat method of upvoting certain users based sheerly on their profile can be demeaning and disheartening for teens that are downvoted. Plus, multiple reviews and news stories have noted bullying often runs rampant in chat groups and private messages.
Talking to your child about dating apps and internet safety
Whether it is MyLOL or other dating apps or platforms, at some point, your teen is likely to test the waters of online dating. It’s essential to come from a place of compassion and concern, not judgment when talking with them about the dangers of online dating. Emphasize how many people aren’t who they seem online and that they can come to you anytime if things start to feel weird or unsafe.
How to Protect Your Child
Beyond chatting with your child, Bark is here to help you monitor potential threats to your child and let you know when they have been exposed to potentially harmful content.
Bark can help alert you when your child creates a MyLOL account, and it can even help you block it altogether. Explore all of your options with Bark and start your free trial today.
As technology advances and kids find more ways to connect online, they’re more likely than ever before to run into online predators. According to Bark’s 2022 Annual Report, 9.4% of tweens and 14.2% of teens have encountered predatory behaviors from someone online.
Just as technology has advanced over the past 10 years, so have online predators' tactics to groom, manipulate and exploit children. From pretending to be a trusted friend to luring children with games and even manipulating them with blackmail, online predators can be harder to spot than ever before.
But don't worry. By being aware of the risks and taking steps to protect your child, you can help ensure that your child stays safe online. In this article, we will go over some tips and tricks on how to protect your child from online predators.
10 Tips To Protect Kids From Online Predators
1. Have an open conversation about what is an online predator
It's important to teach your child about the dangers of online predators and explain that not everyone online is who they claim to be. Online predators can come in many forms, and not all of them are “scary” strangers. Make your child aware that online predators could be someone they know and trust.
2. Teach your child to limit the personal info they share
Outside of the obvious personal information they should never share, like their full name, address, and phone number, it's also important to point out more innocuous-seeming details that online predators could use against your child. Information like their school name, regular hangouts spot, or even class schedule can all be used to target them.
3. Set up ground rules to never meet in person
Even if they commit to meeting in a public place, it’s never safe for minors to meet up with strangers in person. Remind your child that online predators are extremely good at concealing their identity, and they may not be prepared for the reality of who they are meeting.
4. Educate your child on common predator tactics
Online predators rarely “cut to the chase” when manipulating their victims. Talk with your child about common tactics like "grooming" and "sextortion" and how online predators can use them to get what they want from your child.
5. Establish a judgment-free zone
Encourage your child to come to you if they ever feel uneasy about someone they are talking to online or if they receive any messages that make them feel uncomfortable. Remind them that this is a judgment-free zone, and no matter what they share with you, your first priority will always be their safety.
6. Watch out for warning signs
Is your child being more secretive with their devices? Are they spending more time online than usual? Have they set up new accounts or apps and are talking to friends they won’t tell you about? These could all be signs that your child is engaging with an online predator. Communicate with them that you are worried about them and ask them to open up to you about changes in their behavior.
7. Be aware of the games, apps, and websites your child is using
These days online connections aren’t just happening in chat rooms. Many predators use online games, social media, dating apps, and other websites to contact and groom children. Take stock of what new apps your child may have downloaded or if they are spending an excessive amount of time on one app or website.
8. Encourage them to report unwelcome behavior immediately
On the slippery slope of grooming and manipulation, it helps to provide clear examples of when your child should report unwelcome behavior. For example, “If a stranger ever asks you to send a photo of yourself, please let me know immediately.” Make sure to provide outside sources and agencies such as their school counselor and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) so your child has a place to turn if they don’t feel comfortable going to you first.
9. Help them with privacy settings
Talk with your teen about setting their social media profiles to private till they are at least 18 years old. You can also explore the privacy settings of other apps to prevent your child from receiving private messages or comments from strangers.
10. Use a parental control tool like Bark
With all the ways online predators can gain access to your child, it’s helpful to know when someone or something else is looking out for your kid! Bark’s award-winning service monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of sexual predators, adult content, cyberbullying, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug use, threats of violence, and more. Try Bark for free today!
Every parent is tasked with the difficult job of keeping their kid safe from the dangers of the world. Some things are easy, like keeping them safe from sickness by getting them a flu shot. But others are more complicated and just plain scary to think about — things like domestic violence and cyberbullying.
While they are hard to think about, these two things are all too common among children and adults alike. The sad truth is that more than 12 million people around the world are impacted by domestic violence every year. Nearly half of the teens in the United States state that they’ve experienced some form of cyberbullying.
These stats can be startling to hear. Often, we live by the rule of out of sight, out of mind when it comes to these things.
But even if your child has never or will never experience an incident of domestic abuse, it can still be impactful for parents to know to better support their child. If anything, it’ll only help contribute towards building a safe space at home and in the digital world.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the important relationships between domestic violence and cyberbullying. You’ll also learn key signs to look for when it comes to cyberbullying as well as get tips to navigate cyberbullying as a parent.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is the violence that takes place between people who have an intimate relationship with one another. But this violence is more than just aggressive behavior between two people. It’s a pattern of behavior that’s typically used to exercise power over another person.
Domestic violence appears in many different forms – some are easier to notice than others. This includes physical abuse and sexual assault, but also emotional abuse and other forms of intimidation, like exerting financial control.
Domestic violence is much more common than we might think. Almost 50% of all men and women in the United States have experienced some sort of domestic psychological aggression in their lifetime.
Victims of domestic violence often experience an impact on their mental health and stress levels. It can also affect their physical health, even when physical violence isn’t involved.
But domestic violence doesn’t just impact the victims or people involved. It can have long-term implications for their friends, loved ones, and even children.
The Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children
Domestic violence isn't just an adult problem. Unfortunately, it’s a reality for many children. They might witness it in their home, or they may have even unfortunately experienced it themselves.
Almost a quarter of domestic abuse cases have been witnessed by children. While a large percentage of abusers also have a history of abusing children in the household. This doesn’t even account for the cases that never get reported.
Children exposed to violence often carry mental, emotional, and physical damage into their teenage years and beyond. This damage can often manifest in other aspects of their lives.
And one little-known or talked about result of domestic violence in children is actually cyberbullying.
What Is Cyberbullying?
For many parents, cyberbullying is still a relatively new concept. Most likely, it’s something you never experienced growing up.
Unlike traditional playground bullying, cyberbullying happens in the digital world. From social media to texting – technology has given bullying a whole new space to fester.
The ability to hide behind a screen has made it possible for bullies to act in ways they never have before. You still see things like harassment, intimidation, and threats. However, the internet has made way for new forms of social exclusion, impersonation, doxing, and other types of psychological harassment.
And if you have spent any time browsing the comment sections of social media, this won’t come as a shock — the internet can be a downright mean place sometimes!
Cyberbullying Among Children And Teens
Cyberbullying is much more common among teens and older children as they start to explore the digital world.
On the surface, cyberbullying may seem less harmful than your child returning home with a black eye. But the impacts of cyberbullying can be equally — if not more — dangerous.
The digital nature of cyberbullying means it’s much harder to detect in multiple ways. For one, it’s harder to know it’s happening at all since it may never manifest off the screen. Secondly, even if you know it’s happening, you may not be able to detect who the actual bully is. Unfortunately, it’s quite easy to remain anonymous online. And the bully may not even be someone from school or someone your child knows in real life, which makes resolving the situation extremely difficult or even impossible sometimes.
How Domestic Violence Impacts Cyberbullying
Domestic violence and cyberbullying alone can be detrimental to the mental and physical health of your child. And the two are more connected than one might think.
When children are around domestic violence, there is a chance they’ll be more susceptible to cyberbullying. Depending on the child, it can result in them being more likely to be bullied or more likely to be a bully. For many, it might be both.
Let’s break down some of the ways exposure to domestic violence can impact how a child could encounter cyberbullying:
It’s natural for a child to have a trauma response to interactions with domestic violence. This is true whether they’re a victim or a bystander.
Trauma can often make it difficult for children to regulate their emotions. It can lead to difficulty forming healthy behaviors or relationships. This can make them more prone to aggressive behavior, including cyberbullying.
Trauma can also make children more withdrawn, meaning they’ll shy away from sharing any difficult experiences with you. Unfortunately, this can make it more difficult to identify instances of bullying.
Low self-esteem and self-worth are commonly attributed to bullies. But it can make children more vulnerable to being bullied or being a bully.
Interactions with domestic violence could make a child feel like they don’t deserve to be treated fairly, and receiving threats or intimidation is acceptable. Or their lack of self-esteem might cause them to resort to bullying in order to make themselves feel better.
Poor communication skills
Children take their cues from their parents and those around them. If they’ve been exposed to domestic violence, they’ve been shown that intimidation, aggression, and even violence are normal ways to communicate.
These poor communication skills and lack of boundaries can make it hard to understand what makes appropriate behavior. This causes them to resort to bullying tactics when approaching conflict or difficult situations.
For many children, it can also cause them to accept being bullied as the norm. They may also lack resilience and may not know how to cope with difficult situations, making them more likely to be bullied.
Difficulty expressing and understanding emotions
Children exposed to domestic violence may have trouble showing their true emotions. This can make it difficult to make friends or connect with classmates.
Even though it’s not healthy, cyberbullying is often a way for these children to express pent-up emotions.
On the other hand, it can also make it difficult for them to empathize with others. For some, this means it can be challenging to recognize the effects of their bullying behavior. For others, it just makes it difficult to build relationships – making them prone to being bullied.
Decreased or increased trust
Trust is a key element to building a healthy relationship.
Experiencing domestic violence can also cause children to develop trouble trusting those around them. This can include anyone from authority figures or even other children.
But some victims of domestic violence can experience the opposite effect, where they are overly trusting. Which might make them a target for cyber bullies.
Fear and anxiety
For children who show bully-like behavior, aggressive behavior is often how they try to make themselves feel safe. Being scary or having a targeted victim can make them feel more powerful and less vulnerable.
And when it comes to victims of bullying, their fear and anxiety may cause them to be afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation from the bully.
The Effects of Cyberbullying on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
Ultimately, cyberbullying makes the victim feel isolated and alone. Coupled with the impact of domestic violence, it can potentially cause lasting damage.
Here are some common effects of cyberbullying on children exposed to domestic violence:
- Increased risk of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression
- Lack of healthy relationship building
- Signs of pessimism and low optimism
- Decreased trust in authority figures
- Poor or decreasing academic performance
- Higher risk of suicide
Signs your child may be experiencing cyberbullying
When it comes to cyberbullying, one of the best things you can do is recognize the signs. This way, you can get your child the support and help they need as soon as possible.
If your child has been exposed to domestic violence, here are some signs of cyberbullying to keep an eye out for:
- Sudden hesitation or reluctance to use digital devices
- Not wanting to go to school
- Loss of friends or other relationships
- Unexpected behavior (including acting out, and being withdrawn)
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- High-levels of stress
Victims of bullying are often very good at keeping it to themselves. They may be embarrassed or simply do not wish for others to get involved. Anytime you see abrupt changes in behavior, you should be mindful of potential bullying.
Cyberbullying and traditional forms of bullying may come hand in hand, so make sure to keep an eye out for signs of in-person bullying as well.
Signs your child may be cyberbullying others
It can be difficult to think about your child or teenager being a bully. As a parent, it can be easy to turn a blind eye.
But seeing the signs sooner rather than later means you can help to course correct them before any more damage is done.
- Aggressive or intimidating behavior
- Lack of respect toward you or other authority figures
- Hiding digital activity and history
- Lack of consideration for those around them
- Getting into physical altercations
- Constantly reminding others of their own accomplishments
- Signs of money or cash with no plausible story
Not all children necessarily recognize their own bullying behavior. It can be a difficult conversation to have, but addressing these challenges can help your child’s development.
Protect Your Children From Cyberbullying
The link between domestic violence and cyberbullying is clear. So, of course, the best-case scenario is to remove any exposure to domestic violence. However, instances of domestic violence often happen when least expected. It may also be something of the past that can’t be changed.
Whether your child has experienced domestic violence or not, here are some steps you can take to protect your child from cyberbullying.
- Work with a professional: Domestic violence is serious stuff. If your child is showing signs of trauma or other distress as a result of domestic violence, a professional can help your child work through the emotions. They can also provide resources for you and your family to work together.
- Foster communication with your child: Building trust with your child means that they’ll be more likely to share challenges with you. This can be as simple as them letting you in on their day or sharing how they’re coping with their history of domestic abuse. Having a line of communication open with your child makes it easier to see potential issues when they arise. Plus, it also helps you build a stronger relationship with your kid!
- Limit exposure to instances of cyberbullying: If you know that your child is being bullied or is bullying others, sometimes it’s easier to cut it at the source. You can limit access to specific apps and websites, the internet, or even their devices.
- Monitor digital activity: Use tools like Bark that can help you keep an eye on your child’s digital footprint. Not only can you track the sites and conversations they’re having, but you can detect things like inappropriate behavior. You can set up alerts for content monitoring, so you get notifications the moment they encounter cyberbullying.
We hope this served as an informative resource for you in thinking about domestic violence and cyberbullying. Both can have serious consequences, so understanding the links and being well-equipped as a parent is crucial should anything come your way.
If you, your child, or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, visit resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline or contact your local authorities.
Create a safe space for your child online with Bark. Start your free trial today.
According to our 2022 Annual Report, 62.4% of tweens and 82.2% of teens have encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature online. This figure is definitely eye-opening, and we know it can be a scary subject for parents. And while porn today can be found anywhere from Twitter to YouTube, one of the biggest and most obvious offenders is PornHub and sites like it. To help parents out, we've researched the best ways to keep porn off your kid's devices.
How to Block PornHub and Other Porn Sites
There are several ways to block PornHub and related porn sites, and we've listed them out below. However, no matter how you much try to block, there's always the chance porn may still sneak through via ads, texts, and social media.
Blocking Porn on Different Devices
- How to block Pornhub through your child's device settings. One of the simplest ways to block porn is to use built-in tools and apps.
- For iPhone users: Apple Screen Time comes built into to iPhones and iPads. Parents can use this app to block websites and more. We've got step-by-step instructions here.
- For Android users: Android devices like Pixels, Galaxies, and Palms come with the free Google Family Link app. It features built-in parental controls that let you block inappropriate websites.
- For Bark users: Head to your dashboard and set up filtering rules for you child.
- For Mac and PC users: If you want to block dangerous websites on your kid's computer, Family Safety Settings on PC and screen time settings on Macs can help you get the job done. Learn how to block websites on your PC through Family Safety Setting or on your Mac computer with Apple Screen Time.
- How to block Pornhub through your browser settings. If you use Google Chrome or Firefox browsers, you can easily download add-on extensions that will allow you to block individual websites on any computer or mobile device with that browser. Chrome users can walk through the process here.
- How to block Pornhub through your router or domain naming system. This is a little more complicated, and it extends beyond plugins and apps to protect at the ground level. You can learn how to access your router and domain naming system to block websites here.
How Bark Makes Blocking Porn Simple
While the options above can help you block PornHub and other porn sites, the process can be time-consuming. So, what do you do? It can take a while to figure out which websites to block and then actually block them one by one.
That’s why Bark offers a faster and simpler solution. Bark allows you to block websites and apps by category, as well as set screen time schedules so you can help set healthy boundaries. This gives you all the control with none of the tedious work, so you can rest easy that your kids are better protected.
To get started, learn how Bark works and start your free trial today.
If you’ve been on the internet lately, you may have heard about a website called ChatGPT. The buzz around it has been intense since it launched on November 30, 2022, and in just a few short weeks it amassed 100 million users. Demand has grown so much that a paid subscription offering priority access was announced on February 1.
Fans of the chatbot are hailing it as the answer to, well, nearly anything, as ChatGPT can write essays, solve math problems, code websites, compose poetry, and more. Detractors, on the other hand, claim that it will destroy creativity, kill jobs, and ruin education.
There are tons of questions around how ChatGPT will affect society as a whole, but in this post, we’re going to specifically talk about how it can affect kids, as well as what parents need to know about this technology.
What Is ChatGPT?
Simply put, ChatGPT is a website where users can ask questions and get answers from an incredibly sophisticated chatbot. The company behind ChatGPT is called OpenAI, and it works with all sorts of artificial intelligence. You may also have heard of OpenAI’s DALL-E, which takes user prompts and generates graphic designs in a matter of seconds.
Anyone can create a free account, and we recommend parents check it out firsthand to see what it’s all about.
How Does ChatGPT Work?
The tech behind ChatGPT is super complex, but it’s worth explaining a little about how it works. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with it and may not even realize it! If you’ve ever used spell check and predictive text on your phone or asked a question in a chat window on a company’s website, you’ve taken advantage of machine learning.
ChatGPT uses pattern recognition and access to tons of information to make decisions. Human brains do this, too, but not at the speed or volume that machines are capable oof.
Let’s break down a simple example. Suppose I asked you and ChatGPT to finish this sentence: “The ice cream was ____.”
Your first guess would probably be along the lines of “delicious”, “creamy”, or “cold.” ChatGPT knows this too, based on all of the human data it's been fed — information from books, websites, articles, and more. It won’t answer “spiky”, “hot”, or “ugly”, just like you wouldn’t.
This was only a simple example, too. ChatGPT can use the same principles to answer incredibly complex questions that take much longer to explain. But this is where it gets complicated, and where the chatbot’s limitations come into focus. We’ll get more into these issues later.
How Kids Might Use ChatGPT for School
As a parent, this is probably your first concern — especially considering that some schools have already started banning it. Here are just a few examples of questions kids might ask ChatGPT:
- “Write me a 300-word essay on the theme of revenge in Hamlet.”
- Solve for x: 2x + 35 = 6x
- “Compare and contrast the French and English revolutions.”
- “What are the themes of To Kill a Mockingbird.”
- “Create a sweet poem about a family’s golden retriever.”
- “How do I make an image tag in HTML?”
- “If train A is moving at 30 m.p.h. and train B is moving at 60 m.p.h. and they start 100 miles away from each other, when will they meet?
It can not only give correct answers to these questions, but it can also explain its reasoning in the cases of math problems — it shows its work, in other words.
Is This the End of Education?
This is the question on every parent and teacher’s mind right now, and it’s understandable. ChatGPT seems like a magic genie that has the instant answer to nearly any question. It even recently passed — though just barely! — law, medical, and business school exams.
But it’s important to remember that just as computers and graphing calculators didn’t signal the end of education as we know it, this probably won’t either. At the end of the day, technology is a tool, and an imperfect one, at that. The traditional model of assigning students a take-home essay may evolve, resulting in more in-class writing exercises. It will always be important for kids to understand the why behind what they learn.
Why ChatGPT Isn’t Perfect
Can ChatGPT generate remarkably human-sounding words? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Definitely not. Here are a few of the issues it has:
It can be plain wrong
Human experiences and information don’t always conform to logic, and ChatGPT can run into problems because of this. But because it so confidently and quickly spits out answers, kids may believe they’re always 100% true.
It can still reflect human biases
ChatGPT is based on information that humans created, and it can mirror prejudices that exist in the data it’s fed with. This can include harmful positions about marginalized groups.
It will never be as creative as a real person
While ChatGPT is truly remarkable and probably the closest we’ve come to human-sounding answers in text form, it’s always…missing something. The more you play around with it, the more you can start to see its patterns. (Hopefully, teachers will, too!)
Some Conversation Starters
We recommend pulling up ChatGPT (you can create a free account) and sitting down with your kid to explore it together. Here are few ways to get a conversation started:
- Type in a query that has something to do with preference or personal taste, like “What is the best flavor of ice cream.” ChatGPT will return an answer that says it’s an AI model, and as such, can’t have a favorite. It will then spit out some of the most popular flavors.
- Ask your kid “Why do you think this answer is so generic?” and “Why can humans give better answers when it comes to things they love?”
- Give ChatGPT a relatively complicated question, like “Why did Britain lose the Revolutionary War?” The answer it gives will be a tight, well-structured, five-point analysis. It’s entirely correct — but it doesn’t sound like a 14-year-old wrote it.
- Ask your child “Why would a teacher think that a kid didn’t write this? Can you point to any specific parts?” Remind them that their teacher knows their performance as a student — as well as their specific style, quotes, and even usual errors.
- When you’re done asking ChatGPT questions together, ask your kid if they know how it works. This can be enlightening, because many children may understand that it gives passable responses, but not how it reaches its conclusion.
- Ask “How do you think ChatGPT comes up with all these answers? How can you tell if it’s giving you a correct answer?”
How Bark Can Help
If you’re worried about your child using ChatGPT, Bark can help you set healthy boundaries around it. You can limit when your kid can access it — like not during the school day, for example. You can also block it entirely, if needed. It’s up to you!
Looking for the best game console for kids?
The answer depends on a variety of factors, including the age and maturity level of the kid in question. Modern video games allow users to interact with one another like never before. It increases the fun, but there are risks that come with that interactivity.
If you’re looking at the growing selection of gaming consoles for kids and aren’t sure which one to pick, we have some information that may help you. If your child is begging for a specific console, this information may help you decide whether you want to say yes or pick a different console that is a better match to their interests, age, and maturity level.
Best Game Console for Young Kids
You can’t leave the younger ones out of the gaming scene! Kids as young as four or five may catch interest in video games, especially if they have game-obsessed older siblings. The problem is a gaming console designed for older kids won’t meet the needs of a younger user. Young kids may struggle to use an advanced gaming controller, and you definitely don’t want them interacting with strangers through chat features.
Instead of looking at the best game console for kids, you’re looking for a starter gaming option that is safe for a younger child. We have two options that may suit your little future gamer.
Download games to a tablet
An iPad or another tablet is a great option for young kids just learning how to use technology. You can control what games are downloaded, and there are an endless number of gaming options in the app store. You can select a screen size that works for your little one’s hands, creating a gaming system that they can use at home and on the go.
You can always use the tablet for other purposes when your child graduates to another gaming console for kids.
- Easy to find
- Variety of price points
- Tons of game options
- Functional uses beyond gaming
- Not an actual game console for kids
- Doesn’t have a joystick or remote
Kid-friendly arcade games
Most kids can understand simple games like Ms. Pac-Man? Maybe your child would like to go more modern with PAW Patrol games? You can make it happen by adding an arcade machine to your home. They can’t take it with them, but it does provide an age-appropriate gaming option for the little ones.
Here are some of our favorite options going into the upcoming holiday season:
Arcade1Up Jr. PAW Patrol Arcade Machine
Kids can play three PAW Patrol games while learning to maneuver a joystick. The stick features an oversized ball to help little hands guide the joystick with ease. The buttons are easy to press, and the machine makes gaming simple enough that most kids won’t require constant parental supervision or help.
The arcade is suitable for kids as young as 4! There are other games available, including Pac-Man, but you need to buy a new arcade to get additional games.
- Safe fun for younger children
- No interactive features
- Easy to use
- Kids will outgrow the games at some point
- No portability for on-the-go fun
- Limited games on each system
My Arcade Micro Player Mini Arcade Machine
My Arcade Micro Player arcade machines are a cost-effective pick for kids as young as 10. That’s the manufacturer’s recommended age, but some younger children may easily master some of the games available. Each arcade machine sits on a tabletop and offers a single game with advancing levels.
Some of the games available include:
- Ms. Pac-Man
- Rolling Thunder
- Caveman Ninja
- Lower price point
- Easy to play
- Lightweight and compact
- Kid-friendly games
- Limited game options
- Kids will outgrow eventually
- Lacks portability
Best Game Console for Tweens and Young Teens
You may not feel that your tweens and newly-turned teens between the ages of 9 and 15 are ready for the game consoles we recommend for older teens and young adults. They’re outgrowing the arcade games we recommended for younger kids and want more options than the games they download to a tablet or phone.
It's time to start shopping for real gaming consoles for kids! We have a top recommendation that works well for most kids in this age range, but make your choice based on the interests and maturity level of your child.
So, what is the best game console for tweens and early teens? Our recommendation is one of the following three versions of the Nintendo Switch. It’s the modern version of Wii U, so there are many games that allow families and groups of friends to play together. Your kids will also enjoy classic kid-friendly characters like Mario.
Nintendo Switch works as a portable gaming console for kids but then connects to a larger screen for at-home play. You can also prop it up on a table. There are a variety of gaming options that appeal to kids of various ages and with different interests. You can even link family systems together to play games against one another.
There is a way for kids to play games against other people, but you have to buy a Nintendo Switch Online membership. If you don’t want your kids to interact with others, you don’t have to purchase the membership.
- Interaction with others is optional
- Portable and stationary gaming system in one
- More than 5,000 games are available
- Suitable for family fun, too
- Some kids may need monitoring with interactive features
Nintendo Switch Lite
The Lite version of Nintendo Switch is only the portable gaming system. It’s a more affordable option for kids who want to play in the car or during downtime away from home but aren’t interested in gaming at home. You may also go with the Lite version if you want to limit the time your child spends on a gaming console for kids.
The pros and cons are about the same as the original Switch, with the potential con that you’re limited to a small screen.
Best Game Consoles for Teens & Young Adults
Many teens and young adults are ready to interact more with their peers and online friends. Our top recommendation for kids in this age group is the Nintendo OLED Switch. It’s an upgraded model of the original Switch. It comes with enhanced audio features, more internal storage, a larger screen, and a built-in LAN port for fast internet connection in TV mode.
You can use the OLED Switch as a portable console or connect to a larger screen at home. The advanced features, plus the ability to connect with other players through the online membership, make it an excellent pick for older players.
If the games your teen or young adult wants to play aren’t available on the Switch, you have two primary options:
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox Series X or Series S
These gaming consoles have similar features and capabilities. The main differences are in the games available, and every player has their preference in games. Keep in mind that these platforms allow a lot of interaction that often includes foul language and discussions that aren’t appropriate for younger kids. Make sure your children understand not to give out any personal information when playing with other gamers.
A New Way to Help Keep Your Kids Safe
Gaming consoles for kids are fun while at home, but what does your kid take with them when leaving the house? If you said their phone or know your child would like a phone, we have one question for you:
Have you heard the buzz about the new Bark phone? We’re putting the final touches on the design and gearing up for debut in the near future. If you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child’s phone has a wide variety of safety features, add your email address to the waiting list. We’ll keep you updated on the design progress and release dates.