Are you feeling like a stressed-out project manager keeping track of your daughter’s piano and softball lessons, your son’s soccer and taekwondo, and your spouse’s work trips? We feel you! It feels like families are busier than ever, and wrangling people, places, and things gets harder and harder. 

Have no fear! We’ve researched some of the best family calendar apps *real* families used to stay on top of everything — including Bark team families! Let's explore some of the best family calendar apps available, each with features tailored to simplify your family's busy life.

The 5 Best Family Calendar Apps to Keep You on Track

Google Calendar

Cost: Free

The most popular choice among our team members was Google Calendar. This makes sense, as most people have Gmail accounts — not to mention it’s free and also incredibly intuitive. Gcal allows you to create multiple calendars, color-code events, and share schedules with family members. You can set reminders, receive notifications, and access your calendar across phones, tablets, computers, and more. Plus, the ability to overlay different calendars makes it easy to view personal, work, and family schedules simultaneously.

Apple Calendar

Cost: Free

For families in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Calendar (formerly known as iCal) is a great option. It syncs effortlessly across Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Macs, making it ideal for iOS households (which is a lot of folks). With features like shared calendars, event invitations, and natural language input, Apple Calendar simplifies scheduling and ensures no one misses an event or notification across their iOS devices. 

Cozi

Cost: Free plus premium option ($19.99/year)

Cozi is designed specifically with families in mind, offering a comprehensive set of tools for coordinating schedules and activities. It goes beyond basic calendar functions and includes features like shopping lists, to-do lists, meal planning, and even a family journal. This all-in-one app is a good option for busy households looking to centralize their organization and communication. You can sign up for free, but if you want to add extra features, there’s Cozi Gold, which also removes ads.

Family Wall

Cost: Free with premium option ($4.99/month)

Family Wall goes beyond just calendar planning — it syncs with your existing Google Calendar — and provides easily accessible family planning in a shared space. It’s kind of like social media but just with your family, letting you share to-do lists, messages, and photos on a communal digital wall, fostering better communication and coordination among family members. You can even track location and manage your budget with it, if you want to do everything in one app. 

Trello

Cost: Free with addition pricing tiers

Remember how we said running a family is like being a project manager? Some families actually use project management software! Trello is a card-based system that allows you to create visual schedules, assign tasks, and track progress on various family activities. Trello's flexibility makes it suitable for families seeking a super customizable organization tool, but there is a bit more of a learning curve for it than with native calendar apps like Apple Cal or Gcal. 

How Bark Can Help

Keeping up with your family’s activities is just one small part of raising kids in the digital age. If you’re looking to help keep them safe when they’re on their devices, Bark can help! Our app, which works on both iOS and Android, lets you monitor content, block websites & apps, and track location in real time. Get started today with your free, 7-day trial!

Netflix is still one of the most popular streaming platforms, and kids and teens especially enjoy all of its different programming options. Many shows are marketed towards young people, featuring tales of high school, first love, and the challenges of growing up. 

Despite these universal themes, not every show is squeaky clean, though — depending on your family’s values, some may definitely be a must-skip. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through some of the most popular Netflix teen shows, along with what they’re rated, what they’re about, and if there’s anything important you need to know before you let your kid watch.

All American

Rated: TV-14

Summary: Originally appearing on the CW network, All American focuses on young Spencer James, a talented football player from south Los Angeles who gets recruited to play for prestigious Beverly Hills High. Spencer and his family must adapt to his new school, a different social environment, and the pressures of high school football. The show also touches on themes of identity, race, class, family dynamics, and just how important having a serious dream can be. 

Surviving Summer

Rated: TV-PG

Summary: This teen drama is a slightly different take on the usual fish-out-of-water plot, as it showcases an American teen who falls in with a clique of competitive surfers when she’s sent to live in Australia. It’s got the usual friendship pitfalls and young love plotlines, but the incredible high-octane ocean scenes and surfing competitions make it stand out from the usual teen dramas on Netflix. 

Outer Banks

Rated: TV-MA

Summary

Outer Banks follows a tight-knit group of friends who live and work in coastal North Carolina. Led by John B, the teens embark on an adventurous treasure hunt to uncover $400 million in gold, which they believe is connected to his missing father. Along the way, they face rival groups, summer flings, and clashes with the richer kids in town, known as the Kooks. Drug use and adult themes contribute to the show’s TV-MA rating. 

Never Have I Ever 

Rated: TV-14

Summary: Created by Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever is a coming-of-age comedy-drama series loosely based on Kaling’s childhood. Set in the San Fernando valley of California, the show follows main character Devi, a 15-year-old Indian-American dealing with the death of her father and her struggles to fit in at school. Bonus: Many episodes are narrated by tennis legend John McEnroe.

Stranger Things

Rated: TV-14

Summary: The Netflix teen series that started them all! Stranger Things debuted in 2016, featuring the supernatural exploits of a group of kids in 1980s Hawkins, Indiana. Together with their mysterious and powerful friend Eleven, the crew battle government conspiracies and a parallel dimension called the Upside Down. The show can be scary at times, but the themes of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance make it a worth-while viewing event for families.

Riverdale

Rated: TV-14

Summary: Remember the Archie comics? Riverdale is a modern (and dark!) update featuring classic characters like Betty, Veronica, and Archie. The characters navigate high school, dating and friendships all while uncovering the truth behind murders, conspiracies, and sinister plots that somehow become very prevalent in their small town.

13 Reasons Why

Rated: TV-MA with a content warning for suicide

Summary: Of all the shows on this list, 13 Reasons Why is the most potentially harmful to kids. The show is told in retrospect about a girl who died by suicide and left cassette tapes recounting the reasons that led to her death and who she feels is responible.The show is incredibly intense, and it prompted Netflix to even add a content warning for suicide. There are also graphic depictions of sexual assault, bullying, and rape.

Ginny & Georgia

Rated: TV-14

Summary: Often described as The Gilmore Girls for the Gen Z set, Ginny & Georgia follows the lives of a young mother, Georgia, and her teenage daughter, Ginny. After moving to a new town in Massachusetts for a fresh start, Georgia faces the challenges of raising her daughter while concealing her troubled past. Ginny, meanwhile, navigates the complexities of high school, friendships, and first love. There’s a ton of inappropriate content in this show, including raunchy jokes, drug use, self-harm, and toxic relationships.

Wednesday

Rated: TV-14

Summary: Wednesday Addams, of the classic Addams Family, gets a modern revamp in this popular new spin-off show. After being expelled from a “normal” high school, Gomez and Morticia ship Wednesday off to Nevermore Academy, a school for otherworld kids. She’s a bit of an outcast, but her keen intelligence and straight-forward and dead-pan personality shine through, enabling her to solve a murder mystery at her new school. Bonus: Four episodes are directed by the master of creepy filmmaking — the one and only Tim Burton. 

Need Help With Screen Time?

Watching streaming platforms doesn’t just happen on the family TV — kids can download apps on their phones, tablets, and even watch on laptops. If you’d like to manage how often your kid can access streaming content — or block it altogether! — Bark can help. Check out the Bark app for phone & tablet blocking, and our Bark Home device for in-house devices like TVs and computers.

teen on their phone with illustrated notification bubbles around them

One of the most common questions we hear about from parents in our Facebook group is “How do I keep screen time in check for my kid?” Many families are concerned that their children may be developing unhealthy addictions to online gaming, social media, and even streaming sites like Netflix. What exactly is digital addiction, though? And how you can recognize the signs? In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into everything you as a parent need to know. 

Is Addiction Even the Right Word?

When we hear "addiction," we usually think of substances like alcohol or dangerous behaviors like gambling. The issue with internet use is that it’s got so many positive parts, from keeping families in touch to learning remotely. And unlike substances like alcohol or tobacco, the internet doesn’t create a dangerous physical dependence (though psychological dependence can definitely be developed).

So, what’s a better term, then? When it comes to dealing with someone who’s on the internet more than is probably goodl, professionals often prefer the term “problematic internet media use.” It’s more encompassing of the different ways that people can get drawn into the digital world in potentially harmful ways.

Recognizing the Signs

As a parent, how do you recognize the signs of problematic internet media use? You know your child best, so pay attention to any serious changes in their day-to-day world. If they’re spending way more time creating Minecraft worlds than doing homework or hanging out with the family, that’s a sign that it may be time to reel in their screen time. Here are some other signs that may show a growing preoccupation with the digital world: 

An important thing to look out for is using digital tech as a coping mechanism. Like relying on food, substances, or other behaviors, using screen time consistently as an escape from emotional ups and downs can be a red flag. 

Common Examples

Online gaming

This is probably the most recognizable form of problematic internet media use in kids, since video games are played by 90% of kids over the age of 2, and 75% of U.S. households own at least one gaming console. The average time spent playing per day? On average about 2 hours!
Video games are so consuming and addictive that there’s even an entry about it in the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) — it’s called Internet Gaming Disorder. It can be hard to tell where the line is drawn between a gaming enthusiast and someone who’s prone to this disorder, but it usually comes down to how it impacts one’s real-life relationships and interactions. 

Social media

Kids especially can get hooked to social media because it's like a never-ending game that's hard to put down. The social media companies purposely design their apps to be addictive and to keep users scrolling endlessly. This gamification of attention (like constantly getting notifications, likes, and followers) can lead to an unhealthy obsession with social media and difficulty focusing on other activities. 

Streaming

Kids love YouTube. They love it so much that it’s the number one most-used streaming app among young people. From Shorts to live-streamers and videos of every length in between, YouTube’s algorithm purposefully keeps kids hooked into the next video, and the next. But it’s not just YouTube that sucks kids down video rabbit holes — it’s also Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, and countless other streaming platforms that are vying for attention. There’s even an option for watching video games when you’re not currently playing them — platforms like Twitch let kids view other people settling in for a session of Fortnite or Call of Duty. It’s like screen-time inception as kids layer screen upon screen for consumption. For little developing brains, the siren call of infinite content can be impossible to resist. 

How Bark Can Help You Manage Screen Time

Managing your child’s screen time can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, but Bark is here to help! Many families use Apple Screen Time or Google Family Link, but these free options only go so far — and kids are great at figuring out workarounds to turn them off. 

Bark is light years better than those options, and our screen time tool even allows you to get super granular. You can block content according to different times of the day. This may look like “no YouTube during the school day” or “only meditation apps after bedtime.” The possibilities are endless, and every family does it a little bit differently. 

When your child is online, though, you can also count on Bark’s monitoring to scan for potential dangers in texts, apps, and social media. You’ll get alerted to issues like bullying, sexting, online predators, and more. Interested? Start your free, 7-day trial today!

illustrated movie popcorn with stills from popular 90s movies around it

Ask any Gen Xer or elder Millenial and you’ll learn that the 1990s truly were a golden age for teen movies. This was the last decade to feature high school kids navigating life without the internet and smartphones, so of course it feels extra special. 

Fast forward 25+ years and many of us now have adolescents of our own. The movies we loved growing up in the '90s have stuck with us, though. When you settle in for a rewatch of some of your favorites, the life lessons they teach can also apply to parenting and raising kids now that we’re older. Let’s dive in!

8 Parenting Lessons from Our Favorite '90s Teen Movies

Clueless: Communication is key

Beverly Hills teen Cher Horowitz may be clueless when it comes to love, but when it comes to communicating with her dad, she’s a pro. It goes both ways, too — father and daughter take time to eat meals together, discuss serious topics, and feel comfortable enough around each other to freely speak their minds. It’s a good lesson to remember, and even though you may not always agree with your kid, it’s essential to speak your truth and listen to theirs. A lot. 

Romeo + Juliet: Being a teenager is a very emotional time

Even before Baz Luhrman directed the 1995 modern-day version of Shakespeare’s popular play with a young Leonardo Decaprio, parents throughout the ages have recognized the very timeless truth at the heart of the play — teenagers have a lot of feelings. Every strong emotion feels like it’s the first time a human’s ever felt an emotion. Adulthood tempers our feelings over time, so it can be hard to relate. But remember: You were a young and hot-headed kid once too, so try and empathize occasionally when your child is feeling upset, smitten, or excited. And like all emotions — no feeling lasts forever.

She’s All That: Encourage your child to always be themselves

Quirky and artistic Laney Boggs is made over into a traditional “popular” girl in this classic coming-of-age movie, and the lesson we learned as teenagers is that it’s not what’s on the outside that matters — it’s what’s on the inside. As parents, it can be hard to see your child struggling if they’re not fitting in or meeting goals you necessarily had as a teen. But it’s more important to let your child create their own version of themselves. In the movie, that’s seen in letting not only Laney be her creative, artistic self, but also in the popular jock character Zach, who is more thoughtful and intellectual than he lets on for fear of being teased. Encourage your child to be themselves in every possible way. 

10 Things I Hate About You: Kids have to learn independence

Angsty Kat and picture-perfect Bianca and their romantic adventures may be at the heart of this movie, but underlying the main conflict is their relationship with their single father. He loves them dearly, but he’s a tad overbearing. He pressures Kat to skip her admission to Sarah Lawrence College and attend his nearby alma mater. The father also limits Bianca’s dating life by decreeing that she can only be asked out if her sister does, too. It’s natural to want to keep your kids close and safe, but as they grow up, they need to be able to stretch their wings a bit — it’s the only way they’ll be able to learn things on their own. You can always be a soft place for your kids to land if you’re worried about too much independence.

Pleasantville: Embrace imperfections — they’re what make us human

"Pleasantville" takes us on a journey into a 1950s-era, black-and-white world where perfection reigns supreme. In this too-perfect town, change is feared, and anything outside the norm is met with resistance. Throughout the movie, the characters start to experience emotions and desires beyond what they've known, and they learn that true fulfillment comes from embracing their authentic selves, flaws, and all. As parents, it's important to teach our children that it's okay to make mistakes and that imperfections are 100% okay. 

Rudy: Teach your kid to be doggedly determined in pursuit of dreams

Who among us hasn’t chanted “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” in support of someone trying their hardest? Despite being repeatedly told he doesn't have what it takes to play college football, Rudy's determination and unwavering commitment drive him to achieve the near-impossible — joining the famous Notre Dame football team. As parents, we can learn from Rudy's resilience and teach our children the value of perseverance. Encourage them to chase their dreams with passion and dedication, even when the odds seem stacked against them, because you never know when a breakthrough is right around the corner.

Now & Then: Friendships are one of the most important things in life 

Four friends, bonded since middle school, meet up as adults to support each other and reminisce about growing up in the late 1960s. Seeing these women’s bond is powerful, both in the nostalgic flashbacks and in the present-day setting. As adults, we identify more with the older characters, but for kids, the real draw is the friendships of the children. Encourage your own kids to cultivate meaningful relationships and cherish the moments shared with their friends. Whether it's through laughter, support, or shared experiences, friendships offer invaluable lessons and support that can last a lifetime. Loyalty, empathy, and acceptance in friendships lay the foundation for strong, lasting connections that endure through the years.

Sister Act 2: Support your child’s passions

Everyone’s favorite honorary nun Sister Mary Clarence inspires her students to embrace their musical talents and pursue their dreams of entering the all-state choir championship. As a parent, learn from her example and encourage your child to explore their interests and develop their skills. It can be anything, from tennis and swimming to e-sports and quiz bowl. Nurturing your child's passions fosters confidence, creativity, and a sense of purpose. Encourage their talents, teach them follow their hearts, and above all, always be in their corner shouting the loudest. 

Bark: The Parenting App Our Generation Loves

Moms and dads didn’t have to deal with the same issues our generation does — cyberbullying, online predators, and tons of other issues just didn’t exist yet. Fortunately, Bark is here to help with parenting in the digital age. Bark’s monitoring technology — which comes with our downloadable app for children’s iOS and Android devices as well as our kid-focused Bark Phone — scans online activities like texts and social media for signs of potential dangers and sends parents important alerts. With Bark, you can also manage screen time, block websites & apps, and even track location. Perhaps most importantly, however, is how Bark can help you grow closer to your kid with important conversations about the serious stuff in life.

teen girl looking in the mirror, sad face and broken heart emoji

In today’s age of airbrushed influencers and celebrities with perfect bodies crafted by personal trainers, teens may feel pressured to live up to a certain body type. Namely, one that's usually thin and toned. But these unrealistic standards can make it hard for teens to feel good about themselves and their bodies, especially during the teenage years when self-consciousness is usually at an all-time high.

With all the pressure out there, it's crucial for parents to be extra aware of how their teens are feeling about food, eating, and their body image. In this blog post, we're going to talk about some signs that might show your teen is struggling with their eating habits, and how Bark’s monitoring can help you support them if they need help. 

The Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

Before we get started, let’s briefly discuss the difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an official diagnosis from a healthcare professional, and the symptoms are generally more numerous and more severe. Eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia, for example. 

Disordered eating, on the other hand, is an activity that affects food intake and can lead to discomfort. Not everyone who shows signs of disordered eating will develop an eating disorder, but some do. Disordered eating can look like following a very strict paleo diet or setting up iron-clad rules around calories — but we’ll get into the details next. 

Recognizing the Signs of Disordered Eating in Teens

Here are some of the symptoms of disordered eating, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

You know your child best, though — if you’ve noticed a change in behavior, eating habits, or weight, talk to them. This website also has more information about disordered eating. 

Boys Can Also Be Affected

Despite what some people may assume, boys can also grapple with disordered eating. Teen boys often feel the pressure to fit a certain body type seen in movies and magazines, especially in the age of 6-pack abs and muscled superheroes. Some boys even go to extremes like strict diets or excessive exercise to try and achieve an ideal body, which can harm their physical and mental health. That’s why it’s important for families to create an environment where every child feels comfortable seeking help and accepting their bodies, regardless of societal standards.

How Bark Can Help

In 2023, Bark’s annual report found that signs of disordered eating are more common than you might think, with 9% of tweens and an eye-opening 21% of teens engaging with or encountering content about disordered eating.

Sometimes, though, parents have no idea that their child may be struggling. This is where Bark comes in and can assist. We alert parents to potential body image or eating disorder concerns in a child’s online activities so they can check in and make sure everything is okay. 

Bark also monitors for other dangers, too — like bullying, suicidal ideation, online predators, and more. If you want to try Bark risk-free, you can start with our app, which has a free 7-day trial. We also offer the Bark Phone, which comes with our software built-in and a ton of other parental control features like app and contact approvals.  

 If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237. You can also text 800-931-2237 or chat with a trained volunteer online. For more information use these helpful resources.

illustrated flip phone with warning sign next to it

If you’ve ever watched a movie featuring a character that throws away a cheap cell phone after using it — maybe a spy or bad guy — you’ve seen a burner phone. It’s a slang term that’s been around for a while, and many attribute its first use to an early 2000s show called The Wire

Burner phones, which are cheap, pre-paid mobile devices, have become a common fixture in modern life, and not just for criminal activities. They offer flexibility, a low price, no contract, and even minimal features on some models. 

But one of their most alluring features is that there is increased privacy with them, as they can be bought with cash and kept secret. This is why some kids buy burner phones even if they already have an iPhone or Android that was given to them by their parents. As you can probably guess, this presents a pretty big danger for teens and tweens.

In this post, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about these devices, and how you can tell if your kid may have one. 

What Is a Burner Phone?

A burner phone is any sort of prepaid, non-contract mobile device that’s easily acquired. You can buy them cheaply online or at stores like Best Buy and Walmart. Unlike going to a Verizon or T-Mobile store and spending hours signing up for a device and a plan, you can get a burner phone in a matter of seconds without having to register anything in your name. Kids can get them easily with a gift card or cash.

Types of Burner Phones

Many people may think that burner phones are only the $30 flip-phone, limited-internet type, but in reality, there are lots of different types. Searching online, a quick search for “prepaid phones” results in a wide variety of devices, including:

For many of these phones, you can pay month-by-month, or set an auto-renewal if you’re going to keep it for a while. Some have limited features (like talk and text only), while others operate exactly like a normal smartphone. 

The Dangers of a Second Phone

While we like to give kids the benefit of the doubt in a lot of cases, there really aren’t many above-board reasons for a child to have a burner phone (barring examples like situations of abuse or if a child feels they’re in danger). Here are just a few of the dangers a burner phone may pose.

Unmonitored access to nearly everything 

There’s a reason why a kid may want to buy a burner phone and secretly use it: because their parents will have absolutely no say in what they do on it. This could include unfiltered access to dangerous apps like Snapchat and Kik, as well as porn websites. 

Online predators

Burner phones can make kids feel like they can talk without their parents knowing, giving them a sense of privacy.  However, burner phones can become extremely dangerous tools if a child is being manipulated by an online predator. These devices encourage secrecy and prevent parents from finding out what’s really going on. Some predators may purchase a burner phone for a child for this very reason. 

Phone addiction

A burner device will also be free from set time limits, which could lead to all-night scrolling sessions — something many parents are super concerned about. When a kid is on their phone 24/7, it can affect their sleep and make it hard to focus during the day. Excess screen time can also contribute to mental health issues, especially when too much time is spent specifically on social media. 

How to Tell If Your Kid May Have a Burner Phone

If your child is using a burner phone privately, you may be wondering how you can tell if it’s happening. The most important thing to do is to keep an eye on their original phone’s usage. A dramatic decrease in data consumption may be a tell-tale sign that another device is being used instead. 

Also, look for specific dips in screen time — if they were using Instagram 2 hours a day and all of a sudden it goes down to zero or just a few minutes, the app may be being accessed on a burner phone. 

Bark can also help you figure out if your child is using a secret device! The Bark Home is an in-home filtering device that plugs into your router. When you set it up, you can tell what devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network. If you see a phone that you’ve never seen before, it could be a burner phone.

Beyond keeping an eye out for burner phones, Bark also helps with general online safety for your family. Bark’s monitoring technology — which comes with our downloadable app for children’s iOS and Android devices as well as our kid-focused Bark Phone — scans online activities like texts and social media for signs of potential dangers and sends parents important alerts. 

illustration of girl having her picture taken

Deepfakes — or computer-generated videos of humans with real or partly real features — are a growing concern for people around the world. Some are getting so good that they can fool a casual video watcher who’s just scrolling through social media. Even well-informed adults can struggle with this deceptive technology, so it’s important for families to start explaining what deepfakes are to their children.  

As parents have learned to teach digital citizenship concepts to kids (like understanding how to spot a trusted website or news source), imparting knowledge about how to spot potentially fake videos will become simply another part of growing up in the digital age. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the dangers that deepfakes pose as well as provide some conversation starters so you can start talking about this important topic. 

Recent News Brings Attention to Deepfakes

In January, a viral AI filter on TikTok allowed users to turn themselves into Taylor Swift, similar to how you can use a puppy dog face or angel filter. This digitally created face would allow you to move your head, talk, and make facial expressions like the popular pop singer.

Most TikTok users just had a laugh, but on 4chan, a challenge started to see who could create a Taylor Swift deepfake in order to make porn. These NSFW videos were shared widely, and it brought the issue to the attention of mainstream news outlets. Taylor Swift’s celebrity and the problem of “non-consensual intimate images” introduced the concept to a wider audience, but this violation has been happening to many people all over the world for a while. Law enforcement and legal action have been slow to catch up to this technology, though.

What Exactly Are Deepfakes?

So, what do people mean when they use the term “deepfakes” ? This new-ish technology uses artificial intelligence techniques to create fake, computer-generated images and videos of real people. It goes far beyond airbrushing, photoshopping, or traditional video editing software. Using real subjects allows deepfakes to simulate real human movements and facial expressions. The technology is getting better every day, and it’s already to the point where it can be hard to tell the difference between an authentic video and a deepfake. 

If you’ve never seen a deepfake (though you probably have unwittingly!), check out this popular TikTok deepfake account of Tom Cruise. It’s not perfect, but you’ll be surprised by how realistic it looks. The actor is using a filter to recreate Tom’s face, but he’s doing a vocal impression to imitate his voice and speaking cadence. 

The Dangers of Deepfakes

Deepfakes aren’t just fun TikTok filters — they can have devastating real-life consequences for adults, children, and even society at large. 

Fraud

Just this month, a company suffered a serious financial fraud after a deepfake heist enabled a scammer to walk away with millions of dollars. The scammer posed as the company’s chief financial officer and asked employees to transfer company funds to a bank account, and the workers followed the fake directions. This is a large-scale version of fraud, of course, but it shows how trust and relationships can be used against people when dealing with deepfakes. 

An example of a smaller-scale — but still deeply concerning — version of deepfake fraud is fake voice scams. Scammers will use a small snippet of a victim's voice (usually easily found on social media) to create an AI-generated audio of them saying they've been "kidnapped" or that they're "stranded somewhere" and need money to get back home. Then, scammers call the victim's loved ones with this script and convince them to send money to save the victim.

Reputation destruction

The Taylor Swift fiasco we mentioned earlier is another big example of the potential for reputation destruction by deepfake technology. A recent study found that 90-95% of deepfake videos are now nonconsensual pornographic videos and, of those videos, 90% target women—mostly underage. So it's not just celebrities, average teens are having their likenesses used for fake nudes — sometimes by their own classmates — and suffering severe backlash that comes when these images or videos are shared online.

But it doesn't have to be revenge porn, either — a deepfake video of someone could simply show a person saying anything that goes against their values or their community, harming how they’re perceived by others. 

Opinion manipulation 

This is one of the scariest dangers deepfakes pose, though it may not affect kids as much because it often belongs to the world of politics and adults. Imagine a deepfake of the president or a prominent politician saying something false, misleading, or against their values. These types of videos, when widely shared, could affect how people vote, trust elected leaders, and more. 

Conversation Starters for Families

We’ve gathered a few ways to talk about deepfakes with your child so they can learn about them and understand some of the dangers they pose. For these questions, we recommend talking to kids 12 and above, as the issue can be a little complex. 

Ask, “Can you tell me some ways to spot if a video is fake?”

Kids today are generally more tech-savvy than we are, so odds are your child is going to be a whiz at figuring out a video is fake — even if they can’t articulate exactly why. That’s where you come in though. Here are just a few of the things you can point out to explain why a video may not be real:

This website has a super useful checklist and practice videos to help you better understand all of the potential gives and tells of deepfakes. 

Ask, “What do you think about that Taylor Swift filter that went viral on TikTok?”

This is an age-appropriate question to talk about the issue (not the porn filter, but the face-only filter from TikTok). No matter what your child answers, follow up with questions like “Do you think there are any potential issues with someone pretending to be someone else online” and “What if someone believed it was actually Taylor Swift?” In true kid fashion, some may try to minimize the negative effects of a filter. But follow the line of questioning to see where it goes. 

Ask, “Why do you think someone would share a fake video as someone else?”

There are positive answers to this question, as sometimes people just want to have fun with filters or be creative with technology. It’s important to talk about the fact that deepfakes aren’t all bad. But remember to bring up the negative reasons, too. Talk about the potential for fraud, the spreading of fake information, just plain bad intentions, and the desire to hurt someone’s reputation.

Ask, “Would you watch this video with me and help me point out why it’s not a real video of Tom Cruise?”

Using a harmless fake video of this popular action star (even if kids may think he’s uncool) can allow you to sit down with your kid and examine, discuss, and point out the flaws in a deepfake. Even though eventually deepfakes will be almost impossible to spot, right now there are still glaring tells, like blurry edges, stranger colorings, and a general sense that something’s not right. Teach your child to rely on their gut when it comes to videos like these — if they think something’s not right, it’s probably because it isn’t. 

How Bark Can Help

Bark’s monitoring technology — which comes with our downloadable app for children’s iOS and Android devices as well as our kid-focused Bark Phone — scans online activities like texts and social media for signs of potential dangers and send parents important alerts. 

Some of the potential dangers Bark can detect include sexual images & videos, bullying content, signs of suicidal ideation and more. Whether your kid’s exposed to real or fake images online, Bark can help you keep them safe online and in real life. 

two teen girls doing face masks

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, our choices for skin care products were pretty limited — stinging Stridex pads, Clearasil pimple cream (mainly used as a very obvious coverup), and mom’s blue tub of Noxzema face wash. And even these didn’t become a staple until late middle school, generally. 

Fast-forward to today and 11-year-olds are shopping at Sephora and throwing around terms like retinol and hyaluronic acid. Kids of this generation — Gen Alpha, which has a start date of around 2010 — have access to unlimited information about skin care thanks to the internet, as they follow the advice of TiKTok influencers and watch videos from viral dermatologists on YouTube. 

All this information, when combined with the insecurity and bodily changes that are part and parcel of being a tween, means that kids are especially vulnerable to promises of instant beauty, glowing skin, and all of the social benefits that come with them.

But this new skin care routine obsession that some Gen Alpha kids are developing is a drastic change from what children traditionally have worried about. Zits are one thing, but a fear of wrinkles before puberty even really kicks in is entirely different.  

In this blog post, we’ll explain why skin care routines for tweens have risen to new levels of interest among tweens, how social media has helped fuel it, and what parents need to know about potential dangers and complications from it.

What Is a Skin Care Routine for Kids?

Most folks are familiar with skin care routines — it’s the combination of products you use to take care of your face. They’re popular among adults because the effects of age can lead to changes in skin condition like wrinkles and dark spots. But with kids, this need is less acute because, by and large, a child’s skin is usually in good shape. This isn’t to say that some kids don't have dermatological issues, and teens of course have always struggled with acne and oily skin.

And to be fair, the skin care routines we had as teens weren’t exactly the healthiest. Rubbing harsh and acidic Stridex pads probably wasn’t the best way to treat acne, but back then we didn’t have a ton of information.

Today, there are more gentle and effective skin care routines for kids that clean your face and prevent blemishes, along with billions of gigabytes of data online about which is best. And it’s more than just cleaning and moisturizing; there are all sorts of serums, tonics, and salves that promise to do wonders. But tweens may be overdoing it, according to some dermatologists.

Want to stay in the know of what kids are researching and using? Here are some of the most popular ones. Keep in mind that cosmetic products don’t have to have FDA approval, and there are different opinions on whether they work and to what extent. Different products can also have different levels of ingredients and efficacy.

Social Media’s Effect on this Trend

There’s more than just word of mouth that’s fueling this interest in middle schools across the U.S., and it's — you guessed it — social media. Mainly TikTok, though Instagram also contributes. 

Exposure

Viral videos about skin care have enabled this obsession to reach millions of kids, both organically (when kids specifically search for advice) and passively, as when TikTok’s algorithm just shows it to a child who’s casually scrolling. If you watch one Get Ready With Me (GRWM) video, you’ll be shown more and more, leading to a feed filled with skin care content and eventually ads for youth-oriented products like Drunk Elephant.

Filters and the quest for flawless perfection

This younger generation has been exposed to AI-generated filters since they were using iPads to make puppy-dog face videos. As they’ve grown up, they’ve experimented with beauty filters that smooth skin and remove any imperfection. Now, learning about how complicated beauty routines may help slow the process of aging (a wild thought for an 11-year-old!), they’re seeking to replicate what older people are doing.

Skin care as a status symbol

Being able to afford all of these products isn’t something in reach of every young person, which makes a $40 moisturizer or $80 vitamin C serum a status symbol. Having a collection of these products — and making videos with them on social media — is a way to strut one’s financial status, like carrying the recently coveted Stanley tumbler.

Potential Dangers and Body Image Concerns

Too much focus on one’s appearance can have negative effects on a child’s well-being and body image. The quest for achieving "perfect" skin may lead tweens to develop unrealistic beauty standards and expectations, which can make them feel inadequate when it comes to their appearance. Additionally, constantly comparing themselves to idealized images promoted by skin care brands and influencers may erode their self-esteem and confidence.

As for physical dangers, overuse of skin care products, particularly ones that contain harsh chemicals or fragrances, can irritate the skin and lead to redness, inflammation, and allergic reactions. A tween’s skin is often more sensitive than an adult's, making young people more susceptible to adverse reactions. Too many products can disrupt the skin barrier and also increase sun sensitivity.

Make sure you’re teaching your children about safe skin care practices. Encourage moderated and balanced skin care routines for tweens, and consult with healthcare professionals if they have concerns about their child's skin health or the safety of skin care products. And your child should be taking advice from a dermatologist about any skin concerns — not internet strangers.

The Actual Skin Care Kids Need

Kids do need some skin care products, like any other human. Faces need to be washed and moisturized, if dry. And if your child is out in the sun, sunscreen is always a necessity. It's all about giving their delicate skin the care and protection it deserves, keeping them feeling fresh, hydrated, and shielded from harmful UV rays. But worrying about wrinkles or dark spots (which don’t even exist yet for most children) may be a step too far.

How Bark Can Help

If you’re worried about the apps your child has access to, Bark’s screen time tools and web blocking features can help you limit or restrict access so they’re not constantly scrolling and consuming potentially harmful videos. 

Our monitoring feature — both in our downloadable app and our groundbreaking Bark Phone — can also scan texts, DMs, searches, and more for potential signs of body image issues (as well as other dangers like bullying and depression). You’ll get an alert if something concerning is found so you can check in and make sure everything is okay. Alerts also come with recommended conversation starters and advice for addressing hard topics like this one. Raising kids in the digital age isn’t easy, which is why we’re dedicated to supporting parents all over. 

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.

illustrated iPhone and Android

In a world dominated by smartphones, the choice between iPhone and Android has become a significant decision for families. But whether you’re a hardcore Apple family or just looking for a more cost-effective and safer choice for your kids, we’ve got you covered with all the details you need to make a seamless switch from iPhone to Android. From transferring photos to talking to your kid about adjusting to the green bubbles, here are five things parents will find helpful when switching from iPhone to Android.

1. Here’s how to transfer all those photos

Switching from iPhone to Android may seem like a daunting process when you have to move everything over onto a new device, but it happens all the time, every day — so both Apple and Android have made the process a breeze. First, you can simply connect your child’s old device to the new device using the charging cord and follow the on-screen instructions. If you don’t have a cord, you’ll also be prompted with a wireless transfer option. 

If you want to use an app, simply download Google Photos on your child’s iPhone and back everything up. When you log in to the app on the new device, all the photos will be waiting for you. (Google Photos are part of Google One, which we’ll get into more below.)

Finally, you can log in to privacy.apple.com to request a copy of your child’s photos and videos that are saved in iCloud so you can move them over. There are also many other ways to transfer photos — some with increasing levels of complexity for the more tech-minded — if you just google “transfer iPhone photos to Android.”

2. Monitoring is so much easier

Apple makes it hard for parents who choose to use parental control apps like Bark. iPhones were built with adult privacy in mind, which is why they’re not the best choice for parents looking to help protect their kids. Androids are the preferred choice for parents seeking to actively participate in shaping their children's digital experiences, ensuring a safer and more controlled environment. There’s a reason, after all, why the Bark Phone — the safest phone out there for kids — is an Android and not an iPhone. 

3. Yes, there will be green bubbles. No, it’s not the end of the world. 

We have a whole other blog post about this debate if you need more support, but here’s the gist: iPhones have “blue bubbles” when texting because of iMessage. Androids don’t have it, so when they text iPhones, their messages appear green. Because iPhones are expensive status symbols, kids have latched on to needing those coveted blue bubbles to fit in. But not everybody has an iPhone, and at the end of the day, Androids and iPhones are the biggest smartphones on the market, and everyone will have one or the other. 

If a child is being teased for having a green bubble, odds are those kids aren’t close friends. This of course doesn’t make it any easier on a kid that already feels bad, but it’s worth discussing how their real friends will want to text them no matter what color their bubble is.

4. Google One is the equivalent of Apple iCloud 

Used to keeping everything up in the cloud? You can do the same exact thing with an Android! Google One can replace iCloud for families by providing expanded cloud storage and family sharing. With a Google One subscription, you can purchase additional cloud storage beyond what comes for free, ensuring that everyone in your family has ample space for photos, videos, documents, and more. 

5. So much is exactly the same — just with different platforms

At the end of the day, 99% of the most sought-after features for any smartphone are going to be the same — texting, calling, playing games, and taking great photos. Androids are just as capable. And some, like Google Pixels or the newest Samsungs, are just as fancy (if not more so!) than iPhones.

Used to FaceTiming? That’s okay! You can use Google Meet, Zoom or any other video chat app. Androids can also receive FaceTime call links and use the app — you just can’t initiate them. 

Only ever used iMessage to text? Google Messages is how you’ll text going forward. In some cases, you’ll need to deregister iMessage — here’s how to do it

Looking for the Best Android for Kids?

We hope this guide was helpful in your switch from iPhone to Android, but while any Android is going to be safer than any iPhone for a child, the hands-down safest option is the Bark Phone. The Bark Phone stands out from other phones because of our advanced content monitoring that comes built-in that automatically scans texts, photos, videos, apps & social media for dangers. You’ll get an alert if anything concerning is found. 

On top of monitoring, the Bark Phone also gives you unprecedented control over your child’s digital experience — from approving every contact they add to managing when they can use YouTube throughout the day. It’s the premier choice for families looking for peace of mind while their child is online. 

blue ribbon

Human trafficking, sex trafficking, child trafficking — these are all terms that can refer to the different ways that human beings can be manipulated into labor or sex work. It can be a really scary subject to talk about, but it’s important to understand this very real danger so you can recognize its potential signs. This, in turn, can help you protect your family and bring awareness to your community. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and we’re bringing to light some of the common myths about human trafficking — and realities — surrounding this crime.

Human Trafficking Myths: Kidnapping is how most trafficking begins

Fact: Trafficking doesn’t usually begin with a violent act like kidnapping. Many people know their traffickers or are recruited online. Like many victims of abuse, victims of trafficking are often identified, targeted, and manipulated because of their family situation, emotional vulnerability, or financial need. Common schemes involve convincing young people that they can become models, only to be tricked into trafficking. 

Human Trafficking Myths: The vast majority of trafficked individuals are girls or women

Fact: Boys and men are also trafficked as much as girls and women. According to Polaris, young men and LGBTQ+ individuals are especially vulnerable. When young people are forced to leave their homes – for example, when queer teens are kicked out by unsupporting parents – they can be desperate for necessities and shelter and as such, extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

Human Trafficking Myths: All traffickers are complete strangers to their victims

Fact: It’s a sad truth that trafficking can also happen to people by their parents, their romantic partners, and their extended family. This violation of trust makes it all the more traumatic — but also harder to identify from the outside. 

Human Trafficking Myths: Trafficking victims are usually physically unable to leave where they’re being held

Fact: While this may be true in some cases, many traffickers use different forms of manipulation to keep their victims in place. Fear of homelessness, lack of money, trauma, drug addiction, and threats of retaliation may keep someone from leaving a trafficking situation even though they’re desperate to escape. 

Human Trafficking Myths: Trafficking occurs only in developing countries

Fact: Trafficking occurs in the U.S. at very high rates, and major cities with international airports are often hubs. This crime isn’t limited to cities, however; it can also occur in rural areas with American citizens who have never left the country. Trafficking can sometimes be confused with human smuggling, which is entirely different and involves moving people across borders. Trafficking, on the other hand, can occur in one’s own home — even by a family member. 

How you can help spread awareness

If you suspect that someone you know might be at risk of human trafficking, you can call 888-373-7888 to reach the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is available 24 hours a day in more than 200 languages. You can also report an incident to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline

Donating or providing volunteer support to organizations like Polaris or END IT Movement can also help remove kids from trafficking situations.

Finally, simply talking about this serious issue and bringing it into the open can help others understand it and learn to recognize just how dangerous and real the threat is even here in America.

How Bark can help

Bark’s advanced technology monitors your child’s online activities and sends alerts for conversations that may indicate grooming, which can be used to initiate one-on-one molestation, but it’s also regularly used to lure minors into child trafficking.

Bark can also help you by enabling you to block potentially dangerous apps like Discord or Snapchat. Start your free trial to see how the Bark app can help protect your family from trafficking and other dangers, including bullying, suicidal ideation, sexual content, and more. 

We also have a more comprehensive option with the Bark Phone, which goes beyond monitoring and adds exclusive features like contact and app approvals, remote alarms, and daily screen time limits. 

2023 was a wild ride here at Bark, and as we close out the year, we’re so glad you’re on this journey with us. Bark celebrated its 8th birthday this summer, along with a ton of other important, fascinating, and just plain fun milestones!

1: Inclusion in TIME’s Best Invention of 2023 list

This fall we had the honor of being named to TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023, joining a select group of devices, apps, and innovations that are changing the way we live today. The Bark Phone isn’t just a device for calling and texting  — it’s paving the way for parents to teach their kids about technology in a safer way, something that hasn’t been done before.  

430,000: Members of Parenting in a Tech World

In 2018, our Facebook group had just a few thousand people asking questions and giving advice. Fast forward to 2023, and nearly half a million parents have joined to support each other and provide guidance. From queries about the latest teen slang to unpacking thorny situations involving school and friends, Parenting in a Tech World is creating the village that we all need when it comes to raising kids in the digital age. 

4: Musicians in Bason & the Barkettes

Every year, full-time Bark team members are invited to Atlanta for Bark Week, which is kind of like our own internal conference. We eat, we gather, we attend team-building events — it’s a blast. But this year the Bark team was treated to an extra-special surprise: Our CEO, our CTO, our COO, and our CEO’s son (also the reason why Bark was created!) joined forces for one night only to play live on stage in front of everyone at Bark Week. We all rocked out to a glorious cover of “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters. Let’s just say it brought the house down!

3: Whoopee cushion sounds unlocked in the Bark Phone

Product updates for our app and phone usually revolve around parent-requested features or new technical features that improve functionality. So imagine our surprise when the engineering team rolled out a purely fun — and funny! — new feature for the Bark Phone. When it’s enabled, all your child has to do is just shake their device to ahem, break wind — digitally, of course.

24: Bark employees in the #music Slack channel

As a remote company, we don’t have a physical water cooler to gather around in between meetings or a lunchroom to chat in while waiting to use the microwave. Instead, we have a variety of just-for-fun Slack channels — think chatrooms, but with topics. One of the most fun this year was our music channel, which enabled us to share playlists, discuss our favorite concerts, that new digital sphere venue in Las Vegas, and of course, all of our year-end Spotify Wrapped lists. 

221: Number of times we said rizz (ironically & unironically)

Keeping up with the latest teen slang is part of what we do here at Bark, and our experts are constantly scouring the web, perusing social media, and getting reports from actual kids about what the hottest new words are. Topping the list this year was “rizz”, which means swag or charisma when it comes to romantic pursuits. 

6: Bark babies born

The Bark team is a team full of parents, and this year we welcomed six new babies into the world. Congrats, future class of 2041!

1: Plaque on Atlanta Tech Village’s startup graduate wall

Bark’s office from the beginning was at Atlanta Tech Village, a startup incubator and co-working space in Atlanta. Once a company grows enough, raises enough money, and scales the team, they’re officially recognized as a “graduate” and receive a coveted plaque on the wall in the lobby. We’re so grateful for ATV’s support through the years — and all those delicious snacks!

29: Number of updates to our app & phone

Nothing is ever “done” at Bark — we’re constantly innovating and evolving. This year, we added incredible new features for our products, things like two-minute screen time warnings, alerts for 911 dials, and more. 

451: Number of emails where people confused us with a dog toy company

Did you know that we're called Bark because our technology is like a family watchdog? That explains the dog logo and name! But that doesn't stop some folks from messaging us thinking that we're a different company altogether. Now we're wondering how many people chat with Chewy about parental controls!

∞: Gif reactions

Sure, Bark is compatible with English, Spanish, and Afrikaans, but did you know that when it comes to how our team communicates in Slack, Asana, Cooleaf, and email, gifs rule the day? From expressions of joy to hilarious animations of sarcasm, gifs express feelings the way words can’t always match. 

Here’s to 2024…

We’ve got more incredible things in store for the upcoming year, so stay tuned for exciting news!  In the meantime, join our Facebook group, check out our app reviews, and follow us on social media to join in on the ride.

girl on phone; slang in illustrated speech bubbles around her ("opp", "let him cook", "eats")

The language experts over at Oxford recently declared “rizz” their word of the year for 2023. We’re inclined to agree! “Rizz”, which is a shortened version of “charisma” has taken the world by storm. But the very fact that a website run by adults recognized it means that’s officially not hip or cool anymore. 

Instead of looking backward, we’ve decided to look forward into the next year to give parents an idea of what teen slang words will dominate in 2024. Of course, these words have already been in use for a while — kids will know them already — but these are the ones that parents will finally start hearing on a more regular basis. 

5 Teen Slang Words to Look Out For in 2024

Preppy 

Remember the preppy look of the 90s? Boat shoes, sweaters, and pearls, that sort of thing. This new “preppy” is different, but kind of similar. Preppy these days refers to lots of girly pink, LuLuLemon accessories, Stanley water bottles, and the like. It’s a type of style, and it contrasts with the darker “emo”, which is more black clothes and sad music. 

Example: “Sophia’s gotten so preppy these days with her leggings and pink puffy coats.”

Opp

This one’s short for “opposition” or “opponent.” Used when referring to someone or some group of people you’re not on good terms with.

Example: “I got a 65 on my math test even though I studied all night. Mr. Jones is such an opp.”

Eats

Out of the current teenage slang terms, this one’s more common in the past tense, as in “She ate.” Used to say someone succeeded or did something well. If it’s extra good? You add, “…and left no crumbs.

Example: “Did you see Bella’s homecoming outfit? She ate and left no crumbs.”

Let him cook

This phrase is used to mean “don’t interfere” in a joking kind of way. It doesn’t literally mean let someone make food. 

Example: A friend is drawing a pencil-and-paper masterpiece in study hall when his teacher tells him to stop. It would be funny if you were to interject “No, Ms. Jackson, let him cook!”

GYATT

A shortened term for "godd**n" that’s used to express approval or excitement, particularly when one notices a large bottom.

Example: When someone’s history teacher bends down in class, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a kid to yell “GYATT!”

Need Help with Teen Slang?

Teen slang constantly changes, but here at Bark, we stay up to date on everything parents need to know! We have tons of slang guides, including ones for general terms, video games, dating, and even illegal drugs

Bark also uses advanced technology to scan your child’s online activities for potential danger — even if they’re using slang! This way, you can get an alert and check in to make sure everything’s okay. Sign up today for your free, 1-week trial. 

fork and knife with tape measure around it

In today's digital age, where social media influences every facet of our lives, the impact on children's well-being is especially concerning. Worrying about sexting, bullying, and online predators can take up the bulk of a parent’s time, but there’s one issue that’s also affecting kids more and more — disordered eating. This blog post delves into the nuanced relationship between children, their eating habits, and the influence of social media on their behavior.

Understanding Disordered Eating

First, let’s talk about the difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an official diagnosis from a healthcare professional, and the symptoms are generally more numerous and more severe. Signs of an eating disorder include:

Disordered eating consists of behaviors that limit food intake and lead to discomfort. Not everyone who has signs of disordered eating will develop an eating disorder, but some will. 

Signs of disordered eating may include:

How Social Media Can Directly Influence It

Social media isn’t just photos of family vacations and selfies — it also connects individuals with shared interests. Unfortunately, this can also include potentially harmful interests like anorexia or bulimia.

This is what we call a direct influence, and it consists of ways to lose weight or tricks for not eating that some folks may use. It used to be called “#thinspo”, for “thin inspiration,” but fortunately many social media platforms like TikTok have banned this hashtag, and instead redirect searchers to mental health help.

Of course, there are still ways that teens can find like-minded peers online, and when they connect they can discuss their shared interests privately or in small groups. Even boys are being affected by the pressure to lose weight and gain muscle.

Indirect Exposure Can Affect Body Image, Too

Even if your child has no interest in content that promotes disordered eating, they’ll still be exposed to the perfect and polished body images of influencers and friends on social media. Some of these are digital filters, which means that the perfect faces and muscles aren’t even real.

When kids are constantly bombarded with so-called “ideal” beauty standards, the desire to fit in and match them can be intense. This can lead to anxiety and depression as a child struggles to deal with how they present themselves to the outside world. For some, it may lead to disordered eating.

How to Encourage a Healthy Food–Body Relationship

As always, create a safe space for your child so they can feel safe discussing their relationship with food You can also help by being very intentional about the way you talk about food. For example, make sure not to describe foods in terms of morality — calling chocolate a “bad food” and kale a “good food.” Instead, remind your child that it’s great for them to explore new flavors and to listen to their body’s wants and needs.

Remember that while not every eating disorder is tied to body image, there is no downside to encouraging your kid to have a positive relationship with their body, so be proactive about doing so — it can go a long way in negating the connection between social media and eating disorders.

How Bark Can Help

Last year, Bark’s annual report found that signs of disordered eating are more common than you might think: 4.4% of tweens and 15.1% of teens engaged with or encountered content about disordered eating.

Bark can help by alerting you to potential signs of body image or eating disorder concerns in your child’s online activities and can let you set screen time limits for apps to reduce the connection between social media and eating disorders.

 Above all, make sure your child knows they can always come to you if they need help, and stay attuned to their mental health so you can check in when there might be a problem.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association’s hotline at 800-931-2237. You can also text 800-931-2237 or chat with a trained volunteer online. For more information use these helpful resources.

graphic of the US; illustrated emojis & icons

**This blog post was updated on April 8, 2024.**

If you’ve heard about sextortion, you know that it’s a potentially devastating crime that can have lifelong repercussions on a family. And if you’ve experienced it firsthand, you’re probably scared, frustrated, and angry. In this blog post, we’ll give you some resources to better understand what it is, along with links to the laws of different states that may address it. 

What Is Sextortion?

Sextortion is a combination of the words “sex” and “extortion” — extortion is using threats or force to coerce someone into doing something. In the case of sextortion, a person is threatened that their nude photos will be released unless they:

The bad actor may have gotten a person’s nude photos with permission or without, in the case of a hacked phone or computer. Individuals can feel immense shame in cases of sextortion, afraid that their family will see the photos and judge them. 

Boys Can Be Especially at Risk

While anyone of any age can become a victim of sextortion, there’s been a recent trend of boys being targeted. In these cases, boys are contacted by what they think are young girls. In reality, it’s scammers hoping to extort money or photos from them after requesting and receiving nude photos from the boys. The results of these schemes have been truly devastating. According to the FBI, more than a dozen boys died by suicide after becoming sextortion victims. 

What to Do If You Encounter Sextortion

Thorn has provided a helpful infographic with what to do if you encounter sextortion. Here are a few of the tips:

Know that you’ve done nothing wrong

Stop responding to the blackmailer and block them. There’s no guarantee that if you comply with their requests they’ll stop. They’re the ones engaging in crime — even if you’ve sent photos or videos willingly before. 

Get support

Text "THORN" to 741741 to speak with a trained counselor who can help you make sense of the situation, validate your concerns, and provide you with options;

Report it

Tech companies can help you remove images and videos from the internet. This removal guide provides details on how to get started. When you state that you’re under 18, companies can take more aggressive actions since you’re underage. 

Save all the evidence

Keep a record of all your interactions — take screenshots, download and save photos and videos, and anything else that helps paint a picture of what’s been happening.

How States Prosecute Sextortion

Some states, recognizing how dangerous and devastating sextortion can be to people, have passed laws addressing sextortion specifically. Other states that don’t have specific laws governing it may use traditional extortion or blackmail statutes to nab perpetrators, in addition to child abuse sexual material charges if the victim is underage.

Need Help Preventing Sextortion?

Bark’s advanced content monitoring scans your child’s photos, videos, text messages, and social media accounts for signs of potential dangers — including sextortion. If your child is exchanging sexual content or receiving threats, you can get an alert so you can check in and make sure everything’s okay.

State-by-State Sextortion Laws

The following links do not constitute legal advice of any kid. They serve as a starting point to guide families to specific sextortion laws where applicable and to traditional extortion, coercion, or other possible statutes in states that don’t have specific sextortion laws. If you have questions about possible sextortion, contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. 

The term “monitoring” gets thrown around a lot these days when it comes to online safety. But what exactly does it mean? Well, it turns out that it depends on who you’re talking to!

Here at Bark, our definition of monitoring refers to content monitoring, and it’s how we help nearly 6 million children stay safe online and in real life. Our competitors often say they do it too, but it’s not what you think. And spoiler alert: We do it best.

Only Bark actively scans your child’s online activity for danger

Our content monitoring relies on advanced artificial intelligence.  When Bark is hooked up to your child’s accounts and devices, it continually scans and analyzes their messages, texts, emails, chats, photos, and social media posts for signs of danger. 

This process is meant to mimic a parent’s discerning gaze. For example, if you saw that your child was texting a friend about feeling depressed and wishing they weren’t alive, an alert would go off in your mind and you’d immediately take action. 

Bark does this for you — but quicker, more precisely, and with round-the-clock analysis. If something concerning is found, you’ll get a timely alert so you can check in with your child and make sure everything is okay. Also, we don’t give you complete access to everything on their phone, just potential issues you’d want to know about. This saves you time so you can focus on the most important things affecting your kid, and not a million harmless Fortnite memes. 

How Content Monitoring Helps Keep Your Child Safe

Bark runs in the background of your child’s device, scanning all of their online activities for issues like predators, sexual content, bullying, depression, suicidal ideation, and more. We can even alert you if your child downloads a risky app or creates a new social media account.

Our advanced technology is trained to focus not only on content, but also context. It can tell the difference between “If you’re late to chemistry again, Ms. Jones will kill you” versus “I’m scared Tyler will bring a gun to school and kill someone.”

And because language and communication in the digital age are constantly changing and evolving, Bark even keeps up with the latest teen slang and can translate what emojis really mean. This is huge because parents may take a look at their child's texts and see seemingly harmless things like the peach emoji or the plug emoji. In reality, these mean "butt" and "drug dealer," respectively. Quite a difference!

Bark's algorithm for identifying potential dangers in kidspeak has been training and building for 8 years, which means that nobody can come close to content scanning like we can.

What Other Companies Mean When They Use The Word “Monitor”

No other company on the market is currently doing exactly what Bark does when it comes to scanning activities for signs of danger. What they are doing, however, is using the term “monitor” to mean “report on” or “keep an eye on.” 

For example, if an app says it lets you “monitor phone usage,” that probably means they’ll send you a report at the end of the week with details about how your child spent time online. This could look like the total number of hours spent on Snapchat, Instagram, and maybe even which websites that were visited.  But it's passive, and doesn't help you protect your child from threats.

Keep in mind that two of the biggest online safety apps do this absolutely for free — Apple Screen Time and Google Family link both track your activity and provide you with graphs and data about your online activity. But they do not send you critical alerts about your kid’s online safety.

Why Bark Comes Out On Top 

Only Bark gives you real, potentially life-changing information about your child’s world.  As a parent, staying tuned in to your kid’s world and feelings is important to their physical and emotional well-being, and we give you the tools to help them learn about and thrive with the technology that they’ll be using for the rest of their life.

With Bark, you can not only monitor content, you can also create custom screen time schedules for your child, block inappropriate websites and apps, and track their location with GPS 24/7.

We’d love for you to try Bark and see if it’s a good fit for your family. Sign up today for your free, one-week trial. We also have the Bark Phone, a groundbreaking device that comes with Bark built-in along with a ton of other features like contact approvals, remote phone locking, and so much more.

Odds are, your parents probably didn’t have the porn talk with you when you were growing up. It was still consumed — some things dont change across generations — but it was much harder to get. You had to physically have access to a magazine or video tape. 

Today, kids are given smartphones at younger and younger ages, and these devices have instant access to porn in countless different ways. And while sexual curiosity is completely normal, porn can be dangerous because of how it depicts sex and how it affects growing young minds

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Hear About Porn

1. The average age kids view porn for the first time is much younger than you may realize

12 is the most common age kids view porn for the first time, according to this Common Sense Media report. But for another chunk of young people (15%) the first time can be 10 or younger — some as young as 6. This goes to show that porn is absolutely rampant on the internet, and that no child is immune from encountering it.

2. They will encounter it eventually — even if you block it on their phone and at home, and even if they’re not looking for it

Will some kids go looking for porn? Yes, which is why blocking it at home through parental control apps is so important. But kids may also unintentionally encounter it through pop-up ads or innocently googling a phrase that may reveal inappropriate content. But perhaps even harder to acknowledge is that other kids are a driving factor in viewing porn — on the bus, after school, at sleepovers. 

3. Girls are also watching porn

Many adults may think that porn is purely a problem with young men, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. 57% of girls aged 14–18 have watched porn. Common reasons include curiosity, pressure to conform, and accidental discovery.

4. Some kids are addicted to porn already

Watching porn can become compulsive, and kids are especially vulnerable to those hits of dopamine from watching it online. Like any addiction, it can cause irritability if not consumed, and interfere with everyday activities. Other symptoms include:

5. Porn can have lasting effects on emotional and physical well-being

Porn alters the structure and development of immature brains. Studies show that it can damage a developing prefrontal cortex. The area of your brain is critical for decision-making and impulse control—when damaged, children are more likely to act impulsive and make rash decisions.

Porn also skews children’s view of what a normal relationship, sexual and otherwise, looks like, and they can grow to expect things that aren’t reasonable or healthy from their partner. When these expectations aren’t met or enforced without consent, one or both sides of the relationship will fail.

What to Do If Your Kid Is Watching Porn

We have an entire blog post dedicated to this topic, but here’s the TL;DR:

Take the time to explain to your child why, exactly, porn can have a negative effect on them. For some families, this might mean saying that pornography is against their values or moral convictions. But for other families, this might just mean talking about how viewing pornography can give children skewed views about sex. You can also discuss how porn can perpetuate sexist views, especially when it comes to how women are treated.

How Bark Can Help

Monitoring

Bark scans online activities and alerts you when your kid is texting about porn, mentioning it in emails, or getting links to porn sites through DMs in their social media accounts. For certain devices and platforms, Bark can also monitor your child’s web searches — even if they’re using incognito mode!

Blocking

Bark’s powerful web-blocking tool helps you restrict access to what your child can get into online. You can block by category and specific site to help keep them safe. And if you’re very concerned, you could take the opposite tack and block all sites while allowing only a few trusted ones. It’s up to you! For the safest option, we recommend the Bark Phone starter plan, which comes with no internet access at all — no browsers, no apps, no social media.

bark phone with confetti around it

It’s been a year since we launched the Bark Phone, and we’ve had quite a ride! We knew that we could build a safer smartphone for kids from the ground up, and the support for it has been nothing short of amazing. Take a look back with us at some of our favorite Bark Phone milestones over the past twelve months. 

Starting Strong with an Appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show

We started shipping the Bark Phone last November, and at the same time, had the chance to share it with the American public on The Drew Barrymore Show. Chief Parent Officer Titania Jordan spent a few minutes chatting with Drew about what a game-changer the Bark Phone is and discussed how it’s different from every other kid’s phone out there. 

Non-Stop Updates and New Features

The Bark Phone wasn’t just built to rest on its laurels — it’s continually evolving, growing, and getting new features. Some we come up with on our own, while others we source directly from Bark Phone users. Our chief technology officer, Brandon Hilkert, regularly pops into our 400,000+ member Facebook group and chats with parents about pain points and what they’d like to see. Then, his team makes it happen. You can check out our product update page for regular bulletins about what’s new at Bark.

Received PCMag Editor’s Choice Award

There are lots of kids’ phones out there, but the Bark Phone snagged the coveted Editors’ Choice spot from PCMag. The review touted our seamless setup and powerful parental controls, stating that they “truly provide guardrails as a child learns online safety at different life stages.” We definitely agree!

Starter Plan Launched

While the Bark Phone is completely customizable — you can make it so it’s essentially a dumb phone with no features at all — we learned that there was a need for a starter plan that ships completely locked down. So, we launched our $39/month starter plan to give families with young kids the safest option for that first phone. The best part? You can upgrade at any time and get more functionality all with the same phone, and it takes just a few minutes. 

Named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023

In October, the Bark team was thrilled — and simultaneously humbled and honored — to learn that the Bark Phone had been named to TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023 list. We now join a select group of other innovations that are changing the way we live today. This honor signifies that our phone and its advanced content monitoring are paving the way for a future where kids have a controlled, gradual experience with technology as they learn to use a phone safely and responsibly.

Rolled Out the Bark Community Partners Program

Giving back has always been a big part of Bark — we launched Bark for Schools in 2018 as a way to help schools protect their students from threats of violence. But with the Bark Phone, we knew we had another opportunity to help schools and families. When organizations join the Bark Community Partners Program, they get not only free resources and tools, they’ll get a $100 for every Bark Phone sold with no limit. Talk about a win-win!

Ready for a Bark Phone?

If you’re ready for the ultimate kid’s phone experience — one that you can control and monitor — you’ve got to order a Bark Phone.  Plans start at just $39/month and come with unlimited talk & text and Bark Premium for the entire family. 

kid on his phone, illustrated warning sign and hourglass

By now, we all know about the studied effects of too much screen time — for both kids and adults! — and how it contributes to anxiety, depression, poor sleep, and so much more. But there are also less apparent side effects that are a little harder to quantify. 

This darker side of screen time disrupts social connections, makes it harder to interact with friends and family, and causes shifts in emotions and behavior that aren't always easy to spot. Here’s how to better understand how being glued to devices can impact your kids. 

Life Shrinks to the Size of a Screen

Remember that scene in Wall-E where the family goes into the restaurant and spends the entire meal staring in silence at their own phones? That movie came out in 2008 and it somehow predicted what would become commonplace in the next 15 years. When screen time becomes your entire world, it lessens how you interact with the real world — and that’s rough. Especially because for kids, life is about learning, discovering, and interacting with friends and family. 

FOMO is for Real

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is one of the natural byproducts of social media. Today, we can see on our phones where our friends and family are at all times thanks to location tracking apps. These are strangely popular with kids, as many share their location with besties 24/7. This can of course provide comfort that loved ones are safe, but it can also make you feel bad if you check one evening and find out everyone's hanging out without you. And this isn’t even to mention that you see after-the-fact photos from parties and hangouts on apps like Snapchat and Instagram. 

Curiosity is Quelled

The internet is good for many things, but having the answer to any question in the world at a second’s notice can dampen your sense of wonder at everything. There once was a time when you occasionally had to sit in uncertainty at any number of things — what time your pizza was going to be delivered, what the capital of Liberia is, or what a Husky/Corgi looks like (spoiler alert: it’s really cute).  Too much screen time can get kids addicted to constant stimulation and distraction, which limits how they interact with the wonders of the world around them — and there a lot!

Self-Esteem Takes a Major Blow

Even the healthiest, most resilient kids can be affected by the overwhelming amount of content they consume online, whether it's overly filtered influencers selling makeup or picture-perfect videos of happy families on vacation. The very nature of social media invites comparison, and this can be super affecting for teens and tweens caught in the awkward stage of growing up in the digital age. 

Tips for Limiting Screen Time

The first step to setting screen time limits is to sit down and talk to your kid about why they’re so important. It’s not because you’re a buzzkill or out to ruin their social life, it’s because you care about their well-being and want to encourage healthy boundaries. Growing up happens so fast, and you want them to have time being just a kid. We recommend downloading a tech contact — you can find a free one here! — and filling it out together. Be sure to really listen to your kid and allow them to provide terms and conditions, too, so it’s not entirely one-sided. 

Next, you’ll want to actually set the agreed-upon limits. There are free apps for setting them — like Apple Screen Time and Google Family Link — but their features are limited. 

If you’re looking for the most robust and customizable screen time scheduling features, check out our app or our phone. Bark lets you manage what your kid can access on the internet and when — helping you set healthy boundaries whether they're at home or on the go.

This could look like “No YouTube during the school day” or “Only music apps after bedtime.” You can even make different schedules for each child and every device! 

And when things get hectic, you can pause the internet anytime so your kids can take a breather. Who knows — you might even want to join them.

Wondering If Your Family Needs a Tech Detox?

You might be considering a tech detox after reading some of the harmful effects of too much screen time. Try taking our tech detox quiz to get some insight on whether this would be beneficial for your family.

This week, the Bark team was thrilled — and simultaneously humbled and honored — to learn that the Bark Phone had been named to TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023 list. We now join a select group of other innovations that are changing the way we live today. 

This was always our goal with the Bark Phone: to help parents protect their children in the best possible way from the digital dangers that come with a mobile device. We’re the first generation of parents raising kids with phones, and up until now, there hasn’t been a blueprint for it. 

Enter the Bark Phone. Our device enables parents to manage nearly every aspect of a child’s online experience. You can start out with talk and text only, then gradually add in functions and apps. And all the while, our advanced content monitoring will be working in the background alerting you to potential dangers. 

From an Idea to a Reality for Families to Making the List of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023

The Bark app has been available for years, but we had an idea that would take our parental controls to the next level by building it into an Android device — along with brand-new features that we couldn’t have added before.

Our small but mighty engineering team worked tirelessly to build the Bark Phone from scratch, creating sought-after features like contact approvals, app install approvals, screen time limits, and so much more. 

The Bark Phone began shipping during the holiday season of 2022, and round this time, we also were featured on the Drew Barrymore show, which was an incredible debut that helped bring the Bark Phone to a wider audience across America. 

As 2023 began, we worked hard continually updating and adding features requested by actual Bark Phone users to help make their experience as positive as possible. As we close 2023, making the list of TIME’s best inventions of 2023 was an incredible milestone to help round off the year. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Technology is always changing, which means that the Bark Phone will also be continually evolving. Making the list of TIME’s best inventions is just the start. We’re committed to providing our families with all of the features they need to better protect their kids online. 

Whether it’s monitoring the latest apps that come out, fine tuning existing features, or adding entirely new tools, you can trust the Bark team will be on top of new developments for customers — that’s a promise. And as a team of real-life parents, we know just how important that promise is. 

If you’re not already a Bark Phone user, we recommend trying it out for yourself!

distressed teenager with illustrated text bubbles around

The term cyberbullying gets thrown around a lot these days — so much so that parents may grow desensitized to it. But cyberbullying is still a prominent fixture in many children’s lives, which is why it’s important to be aware of what it looks like and how it affects kids. We’ve gathered a list of seven facts about cyberbullying that may just surprise you!

7 Surprising Things Parents Don't Know About Cyberbullying

1. It’s so pervasive kids may just think it’s part of being online

In 2022, Bark found that 71.2% of tweens and 83.3% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness. This is an absolutely eye-opening stat that shows just how common this issue is. When kids constantly see classmates commenting mean things or hear about rumors being passed around Snapchat like wildfire, they come to accept it as part of the price of being online. There’s always the chance of a negative online consequence for upsetting someone or even worse — just experiencing random acts of aggression. 

2. Cyberbullying hurts — a lot

Some adults may say “Well, at least you aren’t getting beat up on the playground like in my day,” but that’s comparing apples to oranges. Yes, physical violence is horrible, but the emotional toll that comes with cyberbullying can be just as brutal. Knowing that your peers are harassing you through social media for all the world to see is devastating, and that’s something our generation didn’t have to deal with. Some kids are so affected by cyberbullying that it can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm, and even suicide in some tragic cases. 

3. Any platform can become home to it

Cyberbullying isn’t just mean texts or aggressive Instagram direct messages. It can happen in group chats (like when you get kicked out) or even in Google Docs (if people are writing mean things about you). Kids don’t view the digital world as separate from the real world like some adults do. Texting, DMs, posts, captions, comments, and every other form of online messaging and social media are all parts of the digital structure they inhabit. And when it gets negative, it can feel overwhelming. 

4. Instagram is where bullying happens the most

If Snapchat is where kids privately message, Instagram is where they “hang out.” And because of this, cyberbullying is rampant on the platform. Adults are victims of Instagram bullying too — even celebrities like Selena Gomez and Nicole Kidman have even recently been targeted on the app. Of course, the popularity of social media platforms will always wax and wane over time, but right now Instagram is the surefire hotbed home of cyberbullying. 

5. The fruits of bullying can reach thousands in a matter of minutes

Spreading vicious rumors and creating fake accounts are popular forms of cyberbullying, and thanks to the internet (and the fact that we all have tiny supercomputers in our pockets 24/7), photos and videos can be shared online with thousands of people with the touch of a button. Then, when someone reposts something on TikTok, it can reach millions if it goes viral. This is definitely a far cry from someone from the next high school overhearing a rumor from last year’s prom. 

6. Bullying can be hard for parents to recognize

Unless you’re well-versed in the digital world of teens, it could be easy to think your child is overreacting to a potential act of cyberbullying. There are also so many shades of it that parents could even completely overlook it when it’s happening. A child’s online world is a remarkably fragile tapestry of online connections, and everything is connected. If you’re not sure why or don’t understand why your child is upset at something that’s happening, ask them to explain it — and listen with an open heart. Hurt feelings are hurt feelings, no matter how digital or analog the cause. 

7. It’s remarkably unreported

This is one way that cyberbullying is more similar to traditional schoolyard bullying — it’s hard for kids to report to adults for fear of consequences. Consequences like not being believed, being told not to be a tattle, or being instructed to handle it yourself. Then there’s the chance that the bullying will get even more aggressive because of being told on. Finally, some kids fear having their phones taken away — even if the bullying is entirely unilateral — by their parents. And for many kids, that’s a scarier prospect than being bullied, sometimes. 

Stay on Top of Cyberbullying with Bark

At Bark, we know cyberbullying can be a frightening — and complicated — issue for children and parents alike. We’ve also seen firsthand how devastating the effects of cyberbullying can be. Fortunately, our award-winning monitoring service can help take some of the guesswork out of wondering how to stop cyberbullying if your kid is struggling with it. With text and email alerts from Bark, you find out what’s going on and help your kid figure out what to do next.

Interested? Try Bark free for 7 days to see how it can help your family. 

Father and son facing away from camera

Like many families across the world, our team has been shocked, saddened, and scared by the life-shattering violence currently happening in the Middle East.

One concern we all have is how to help protect our kids — and yours — from the incredibly graphic photos and videos that are circulating online. No child (or adult) needs to see such violence. 

To help families out, we’ve gathered some ways to set limits on your child’s accounts and devices, as well as tips on how to support your child during this time.

How to Protect Your Child From Potentially Disturbing Photos and Videos Online

Some families will be able to completely put away devices to help prevent potential exposure to gruesome violence. This is definitely the safest option. But we realize that not every family has the ability — devices are necessary for many parts of life and school. We encourage you to talk through these steps with your child so you can walk this online safety journey together. 

TikTok

Instagram

Snapchat

YouTube

Web browsers

Bark Phone and Bark app

Remind Them Sometimes It’s Braver Not to Watch

No matter how much you try to protect your child — you could even take away their phone completely — you can’t control the screens of other kids. This means they may be shown a video on a friend’s phone on the bus or at lunch.

Talk to your kid and stress the importance of trying to avoid watching these things. Of course, they may be surprised or not sure if they’re not told ahead of time, but for situations where someone asks “Hey, want to see something horrible?”, encourage them to say no. 

Kids may think they can handle “adult” things, but the reports coming from media sources tell of near-unthinkable violence and cruelty. No kid is equipped to handle that level of emotional pain — no adult is, for that matter. It’s braver to turn away from such horrors. 

How to Explain Why You’re Worried About Your Child Encountering Violent Content Online

No discussion of politics is necessary to explain to your child that you’re worried about the things they may see or hear online about the current situation. You simply need to say that you’re concerned they’ll encounter content that will upset them, make them cry, or cause nightmares. Your job as their parent is to help protect their mental health, and limiting their access to violent and disturbing things will ultimately serve them for years to come.

Supporting Your Child Right Now

The National Association of School Psychologists has a guide for talking to kids about violence, and it’s helpful for families right now. Here are a few ways to check in on your child and support their mental health. 

Assure them that they’re safe

One of the first things many kids may think is “This could happen to me.” While it’s true that violence does happen everywhere, reassure them that they’re safe right now. 

Give their feelings free rein

Young brains make sense of the world differently than adult brains. This is all a lot to process, so let your child talk and emote as much as they need. Answer the questions that you can while supporting exactly how they’re feeling. Tell them it’s okay to be angry, shocked, scared, numb, or any other emotion.

Keep an eye on their emotional state

You know your child best, so monitor how they’re reacting to events this week. If they’re consistently feeling anxious or scared, talk to them some more. You may also want to reach out to their pediatrician, school counselor, or a mental health professional if you’re not sure how to best help. 

Limit access to news/online media

We talked above about how to limit screen time on phones and tablets, but make sure the 24/7 news cycle isn’t on blast at your house all the time. Adults may need to keep abreast of the current situation, but kids don't need round-the-clock exposure to upsetting images and videos. 

Extra Support

Digital parenting is never easy, but right now seems especially hard. If you need help navigating raising kids in today’s modern world, we can help. The Bark team is also a team of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and we’re dedicated to assisting families with the hard questions. Drop us a note any time, or consider joining Parenting in a Tech World, our Facebook group where 400,000+ fellow caregivers share tips, get advice, and provide support.

young girl with lots of illustrated thought bubbles around her

Kids have always had common childhood worries — big tests, the first day of school, whether they’ll make new friends. But there are also new things for this generation of kids to be anxious about, like cyberbullying, school shootings, and social media FOMO. It’s helpful as a digital parent to be able to identify the common signs of anxiety, as well as some common coping strategies. 

And while everyone feels anxious from time to time, when it happens frequently or begins to affect a child’s everyday routine, an anxiety disorder may be the culprit. 

Keep in mind that there are many different types of anxiety disorders — from generalized anxiety disorder to obsessive-compulsive disorder — and your child’s provider will be a good resource and will be able to diagnose properly.

What Anxiety Looks Like in Kids

If your child isn’t able to easily tell you when they’re feeling anxious (like with younger kids who may not have the language to describe a heavy emotion) look for signs of physical complaints that may indicate it: stomachaches, headaches, and vomiting. They may also look clammy or sweaty if their heart is racing from worry. Pay attention to abrupt mood changes, as well.

Keep in mind these other common symptoms:

Coping Strategies That Can Help

Anxiety is part of life, which means that you’re going to need to know to teach your kid strategies to deal with it. Here are a few ways to get started. 

Offer support

Let your child know you’re there for them — fully and unconditionally. Tweens and teens don’t like to feel patronized or crowded, so let your child drive the conversation.

Don’t try to get rid of their anxiety — help them manage it

No parent wants to see their child unhappy, but the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isn’t to try to completely get rid of stressors that trigger it. It’s to help them learn to identify, tolerate, and find ways to reduce their anxiety. When you say “Don’t worry about that!” it only encourages them to stop sharing their concerns. 

Remind them bad things can happen, but they can overcome a lot

You can’t guarantee that a child’s fears are unrealistic — failing a test, getting teased, or messing up a piano solo. But you can express confidence that they’ll be okay even if those things do happen. They’ll be able to manage these bumps in the road, and when they realize this, their anxiety may lessen.

Encourage a healthy lifestyle

Mental and physical health are closely intertwined. Make sure your child is eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. If your child needs additional help, talk with an appropriate physician or mental health professional.

Worried About Your Child’s Anxiety?

Bark can help families deal with anxiety by monitoring a child’s online activity — what they post, what they text, and the sites they visit. Alerts a parent might get for anxiety could include: 

When you know what’s going on in your child’s world, you’re better able to help address their concerns and get them any help, if needed.

In addition to monitoring, Bark also encourages healthy habits by letting you set screen time limits and block potentially anxiety-causing websites and apps. You can check out how Bark works for yourself risk-free with our no-cost, 7-day trial

young kid with video game controller

Did you know that more than 90% of American kids play video games? It’s easily the most common pastime for young people, and thanks to technology, there are more ways than ever to log on and start playing. But playing video games presents a whole host of issues, from addiction to online predators. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help balance the fun of video games with the potential dangers.  Whether your kid is into console gaming (like Xboxes or PlayStations), phone games, or even virtual reality, we’ve got tips for helping encourage healthy video game habits. 

10 Tips for Healthy Video Game Habits

1. Keep the console in a main area

We recommend having the Nintendo or Xbox live in a common area like the playroom or the living room. This way, you can keep a general eye on what your child is doing and how they’re behaving. Plus, it’s easier to prevent all-night gaming sessions if it’s not in their bedroom. 

2. Research the games your child is playing

Video games have come a long way from just Mario and violent games (though both of those still exist and are still very popular). Today, there are all types of immersive games that can provide social, educational, and creative expression. Find out which games your kid is passionate about and learn what they’re about. Better yet, sit down with them and watch them engage in a bit of gameplay to get a better feel. Pro tip: Learn some of the most popular video game slang so you can understand (and shock) your kid. 

3. Know who they’re playing with

Kids can play together in the living room, but they can also play online with friends (and even strangers!). Talk to your child about the other players, and whether they know them in real life. For many games, like Call of Duty or Fortnite, they may be paired up with strangers randomly from across the world. If you listen to what your kid hears on their headphones, you can experience it yourself, too! Because these games throw together players from all over, it’s possible your kid may hear crude jokes, offensive language, profanity, hate speech, racist slurs, and more. 

4. Have the stranger danger chat discussion

On this heels of #3, it’s important to talk to your kid about the types of strangers they may encounter on multiplayer online games. Some may be normal, some may be mean or angry, and some, unfortunately, could be online predators. Talk to your kid about how people online may not always be who they seem — and some may actively be trying to manipulate kids in sending photos or moving chats to a different platform. 

5. Set daily time limits and watch for addiction

Apart from holidays and the occasional free-for-all session, it’s important to set boundaries around your child’s video game time. Some experts suggest 30 minutes per day during the school week and an hour per day on weekends, but every family is different. For some, this may be too much, and for others, maybe not enough. If your kid is finishing their homework and chores and keeping good grades, you can perhaps be more lenient. But for other kids, daily gaming may be too much of a distraction. No matter what, keep an eye on how preoccupied they get with gaming.

6. Keep a water bottle next to them

This is a simple one, but staying hydrated is always important, even when your child is inside and not running around. There can be a culture of wanting to drink caffeinated beverages to stay alert and pumped while playing video games, but this isn’t always healthy. Encourage your child to drink water when they’re playing. 

7. Learn about the other parts of video game culture

In addition to playing the games themselves, video game fans also like to talk about them and watch other people play them. Discord is a popular messaging platform where players can discuss strategy and even log in to voice chat on games that don’t have in-game chat. Check out our Discord blog post for all of the potential dangers this app poses. Twitch, on the other hand, is a website where live-streamers broadcast themselves playing popular games while chatting with fans. We’ve also got a run-down of it, too. 

8. Prioritize literally everything else first

Video games are fun, and kids enjoy them. Kids would also enjoy eating ice cream for dinner every night and never brushing their teeth. When it comes to planning out days, make sure everything else comes first — school work, chores, dinner at the kitchen table, walks outside, and anything family-related. Video games are a bonus, not a given.

9. Embrace the positive parts

While it can be easy to rail on all the negative parts of video games (and there are plenty), you can also think about their good qualities. Kids can improve their hand-eye coordination, interact with friends(this was huge during COVID), and learn problem-solving skills. 

10. Get your child to be aware of their body while playing

Have you ever tried to talk to your kid while they’re deep in the middle of a battle? It can be like talking to a wall. Now, imagine how your kid’s body feels when it’s been hunched over and stressed out for an hour straight. Encourage your child to get up and move every once a while, stretch before and after, and take breaks. And if your kid is into VR headsets, make sure they know where their play boundaries are so they don’t go running into walls or objects. 

Manage Game Time with Bark

We know — managing screen time and encouraing healthy video game habits is often easier said than done. But Bark can help! If your kid is playing games on their phone, you can set screen time limits like “no Among Us during the school day.” You can also pause the internet whenever you want to their device. Plus, Bark comes with a free, 7-day trial and works on both iOS and Android.

If it’s gaming consoles you’re worried about, the Bark Home is a game-changer. You can turn off the internet to them on a schedule, so your kid won’t be engaged in multiplayer games after bedtime. Bark Home also works on all the internet-connected devices in your home, including TVs, laptops, and computers.