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Kids and Technology

8 Eye-Opening Stats from Bark’s 2023 Annual Report

Haley Zapal  |  January 26, 2024

Every year, we analyze how often kids encounter or engage in concerning conversations. Last year, we processed an astounding 5.6 billion activities on family accounts across texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms.

The digital worlds that kids occupy are complex, and these scanned activities represent late-night direct messages, urgent texts with best friends, and comments on countless apps — places where children communicate the most frequently. 

In this blog post, we’re going to go over some of the more eye-opening stats and discuss what this new information means for families and children. You can check out the full report here.

Bark sent 12,115 high-severity suicide alerts per week in 2023

This stat reflects the concerning stat from the CDC that many people may not know about: Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in kids ages 10–14. This is a silent epidemic of our time, and it’s incredibly important for parents to be aware of their child’s mental health. Suicide, especially among young people, is a very difficult subject to broach — no one wants to think their child could be hurting so bad that they’d choose to end their own life. This stat in particular underscores the importance of frequent check-ins with your child, open and honest discussions of emotional well-being, and monitoring for potential warning signs. Check out these resources if you’re concerned about your child.

42.4% of 12-year-old females have 1+ risky contacts flagged

One of the biggest dangers that the internet poses is the near-instant exposure to millions of strangers across the world. If an app or platform has a messaging or chat function, there is 100% going to be the possibility for predation. At Bark, we see this all the time, and not just on risky apps like Snapchat. Even seemingly innocent apps like FitBit, Roblox, or religious apps can have bad actors waiting in the wings to manipulate children. And while both boys and girls are targeted by predators, this stat reveals just how common it is for females to be in a position where someone they’re talking to may not be who they say they are.

These are the apps that are most frequently used by children with Bark — and what do they have in common? None of them have proprietary parental controls that a parent can lock with a passcode. Kids can also turn off these parental supervisions at any time, rendering them effectively useless. Big Tech and social media companies know that their apps present significant risks to children — as shown by their continual additions to their parental controls — but they never present any real options that could provide parents with actual controls or peace of mind. 

Suicide, depression, and anxiety alerts all peak at ages 15 –16

We know that growing up is hard, but this stat shows that that time right before the onset of adulthood is especially stressful for children. They’re bridging the gap between being a child and getting ready to go out into the world as a new young adult, and expectations of them are at an all-time high.

This is also the time when kids may feel the most distant from their parents, which can only increase the isolation and frustration they’re feeling. Make sure your child knows that you’re their parent forever and only want to help them through whatever they’re feeling. Hard conversations can be stressful, but they’re so important.

KIK, X, and Reddit are the top 3 apps for severe sexual content

Most parents may know that sites like PornHub and OnlyFans have porn and extreme sexual content, but these three apps may fly under the radar. X, formerly known as Twitter, is especially notorious for the sheer amount of porn that can be found on it. You don’t even have to have an X account to find it, either. KIK is a messaging app that seems primarily for strangers to sext each other, and Reddit — while it can have positive subreddits like r/puppies or r/PokemonGo — also has truly mind-boggling amounts of porn. 

58% of tweens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol

Here we have a stat that you may gloss over — this concerns tweens aged 10–12, not teens (teens, as to be expected, hover around 77%). What this means is that parents should be talking to their children about their family’s values surrounding these subjects earlier than they may think it necessary. Brushing up on the latest slang for common drugs can help with recognition, too.

36% of teens used language or were exposed to language about anxiety

Anxiety is a part of life, and being a teenager comes with familiar territory like stressful exams, dating, and figuring out who you are. As parents, we play a crucial role in creating a safe and nurturing environment where our teens feel comfortable discussing their emotions and seeking help when needed. Whether the anxiety is situational (like worrying about the SATs) or more complex (like having generalized anxiety disorder), make sure to be there for your child when they’re feeling out of control.

Female tweens and teens are 44% more likely than males to be flagged for body image/disordered eating content

The prevalence of social media, the rise of influencers, and the invention of body-warping filters have made it harder than ever to be a young woman on the internet. Whether girls are talking to friends about diets or just being exposed to #thinspo (content that encourages disordered eating), they make up an extremely vulnerable population when it comes to body image issues. 

Parents can encourage healthy body image in young girls by emphasizing health over appearance, fostering open communication, and celebrating body diversity. Encouraging nurturing self-care practices and seeking professional support when needed can also help promote resilience and well-being.

Why Monitoring is So Important

When Bark finds issues like the ones above, an alert is sent to parents so they can check in with their kid and make sure everything is okay. Some parents use the Bark app to help them monitor, and others have opted to give their children a Bark Phone that comes with built-in monitoring. 

Kids may not always know when they’re in over their head, so alerts can help trigger conversations that need to happen. Bark alerts also come with helpful guidance so you can figure out how best to support your child through a hard time. Growing up in the digital age isn’t easy, but Bark can help families tackle all of the challenges that come with childhood together.

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls