mother and daughter talking, illustrated text bubbles in between them

The first crush, the first kiss, the first partner—as a parent, it can be exciting to see your child starting to explore new relationships, but it can also be nerve-wracking. You want to make sure they're making safe and informed choices, and that's where learning how to talk to your teenager about dating comes in. 

While it’s never been easy to talk to your child about relationships—and it surely has gotten more complicated in the digital age—we’ve created this article as a reference to help you learn how to start the conversation, how to broach and discuss important topics and how to give your teen relationship advice that will help them find and establish healthy and fulfilling relationships.

1. Start with an Open Mind

Before you have the conversation with your teen, it's important to check your own biases and assumptions about dating. You might have your own ideas about what's appropriate or not, but it's important to remember that your teen is their own person, with their own thoughts and feelings. Be prepared to listen and learn from them, even if it challenges your own beliefs.

2. Create a Safe Space

The conversation about dating can be a vulnerable one for both you and your teen. Create a safe and supportive space for the conversation by choosing a time and place where you can both be relaxed and uninterrupted. It's also important to reassure your teen that they can be honest with you, and that you won't judge them or overreact.

3. Ask Questions

The best way to get your teen talking about their thoughts and feelings on dating is to ask open-ended questions. Here are some examples to get you started:

4. Talk About Boundaries

One of the most important things you can do for your teen is to help them set healthy boundaries in their relationships. Talk to them about what they're comfortable with, and what they're not. This might include things like physical boundaries, like when it's okay to kiss or have sex, or emotional boundaries, like how much time they want to spend with their partner. Help your teen understand that it's okay to say "no" to something they're not comfortable with.

5. Discuss Safety

As a parent, your top priority is your teen's safety. Talk to your teen about the risks and dangers associated with dating, like sexual coercion, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and emotional or physical abuse. It's important to have an open and non-judgmental conversation about these topics, so your teen knows they can come to you if they're ever in a difficult or unsafe situation.

6. Set Rules and Expectations

While you want to encourage your teen's independence and autonomy, it's also important to set some rules and expectations around dating. This might include things like curfews, limits on how often they can see their partner or requirements around communication with you. Make sure these rules are clear and reasonable, and that your teen understands the consequences if they break them.

7. Offer Support

Finally, let your teen know that you're there for them, no matter what. Dating can be a tricky and emotional time, and your teen may need someone to talk to or lean on. Let them know that you're always available to listen, and that you're on their side. When it comes to breakups or difficult moments, try to reflect on your teenage relationships and what you wish your parents would’ve done to help or console you. 

Learning how to talk to your teenager about dating can be a daunting task, but it's also an important one. By approaching the conversation with an open mind, creating a safe space, asking questions, talking about boundaries and safety, setting rules and expectations, and offering support, you can help your teen navigate the complex world of dating with confidence and security. 

If you are looking for an added layer of security as your teen enters the dating world consider Bark’s monitoring technology. Bark can help you keep your teen safe online and in real life by monitoring their texts, emails and social media platforms for explicit sexual content. 

girl on her phone, illustrated text bubbles around her

In today's digital age, sending and receiving nudes has become increasingly common among teenagers. Apps like Snapchat, which are designed to make sent images “disappear” after viewing, may make sending nudes seem harmless and even exciting or empowering at the moment. But once pictures are sent out, they rarely just “disappear.” 

The social repercussions of teens sending nudes can have a lasting impact on their future. In this article, we will explore the dangers of sending nudes and how to have an open conversation with your teen about this sensitive topic.

The Social Repercussions of Sending Nudes

Sending nudes can have serious social repercussions that can follow teenagers for years to come. Here are some of the most important things to consider and mention when talking with your teen:

  1. Legal Consequences: Depending on the age of the sender and the receiver, sending nudes can be considered child pornography and result in criminal charges.
  2. Reputation Damage: Once a nude is sent, the sender loses control over who sees it and where it ends up. It can easily be forwarded or shared without their consent, leading to rumors, bullying and damaged relationships.
  3. Emotional Distress: Teenagers are still developing emotionally, and the fallout from sending nudes can negatively affect their self-esteem, mental health and relationships.
  4. Job and College Applications: College admission officers and employers often search social media and the internet for information about applicants. Inappropriate photos can be a red flag that may cost them an opportunity.
  5. Cyberbullying: Sending nudes can make teenagers vulnerable to cyberbullying, harassment, and even blackmail by individuals who may seek to exploit them.

How to Talk to Your Teen About the Dangers of Sending Nudes

Talking to your teen about sending nudes can be an awkward conversation, but it's important to have. Here are some tips on how to approach the topic in a sensitive and safe way:

  1. Start with empathy: Acknowledge that it's not always easy to navigate the complexities of social media and relationships as a teenager. In many ways, the world of teen dating and the expectations that go along with it are radically different than they were even 10 years ago. 
  2. Explain the risks: Use concrete examples and discuss the potential consequences of sending nudes. Reference some of the dangers of sending nudes above and talk with your teen about how photos that are shared, even in trusting relationships, can find their way out into the world.
  3. Offer alternative solutions: Encourage your teen to find other ways to express their feelings and connect with others. While nude photos may be a “popular” way of showing love for someone, ask them what other creative ways they could show their devotion. Point out the many unique and meaningful ways they can connect with their peers or partner in a way that is safe for all parties. 
  4. Create a safe space: Let your teen know that they can always come to you for help or advice without judgment. If your teen may feel more comfortable talking with a sibling or friend about the topic, speak with them about ways they can guide your teen through potential problems.
  5. Set clear boundaries: Establish family rules around technology and online behavior, and make sure your teen understands them. This may include restrictions or limits on specific apps, something Bark can help you set up.

Sending nudes may seem like a harmless and exciting way for teenagers to connect, but the social repercussions of doing so can be severe and long-lasting. By understanding the risks and having an empathetic and open conversation with your teen, you can help them make informed decisions and protect themselves from the potential consequences of sending nudes.

Bark is Here to Help

While Snapchat remains one of the most popular apps for sending nudes, parents currently have no way to monitor what happens in the app on iPhones and can only monitor messages on Andriod through Bark. 

Bark's blocking and screen time tools do, however, allow parents to manage when—and even if—kids are allowed to use Snapchat. You’ll also receive an alert if your child creates a Snapchat account or downloads the app, so you can stay in the know about what’s going on in their digital world. Bark’s award-winning service also enables you to monitor for sexual content in your child’s texts, email, YouTube account and 30+ of the most popular social media platforms and apps. Learn more about how Bark is dedicated to keeping your child safe, and sign up for a free trial here.

Addicted to video games header image - boy playing video game

For years, video games have dominated the free time of young people. And in 2023, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to play your favorite game, from consoles and phones to computers and virtual reality. But while video games can be a beloved part of childhood, it’s important for parents to balance how much time their kids spend playing them. 

Unfortunately, video game addiction is a real issue and can affect your child's schoolwork, relationships, and even health. But luckily there are signs parents can look for if their child needs help managing their video game time. Once you know them,  you can intervene and talk about healthy boundaries if your child is addicted to video games. 

Signs Your Child May Be Addicted to Video Games

Loss of interest in other hobbies

Hobbies play a crucial role in kids’ development, as it introduces them to new things and teaches specific skills. Video games are great as one of your kid’s hobbies — but it gets tricky if it’s their only hobby. 

If your child starts to consistently skip other activities they used to enjoy — like playing sports, painting, or hanging out with friends — it might be a sign of video game addiction. Keeping your child’s time balanced between video games and other hobbies or activities can go a long way in keeping addiction at bay.

Falling grades

School can be hard enough without the strong temptation to keep building in Minecraft or start another game of Fortnite! If your child is struggling with video game addiction, it probably won’t take long for it to show in their grades. Once homework time gets replaced with game time, kids will eventually find themselves in a tough spot with their classes.

It’s an uphill battle once the grades slip, so it’s best if kids wait to pick up the controller until all their work is done. That way video games can be a reward instead of a distraction! 

Aggressive behavior

Have you noticed your child be particularly aggressive after they’ve been playing video games for a long time? For some children, video games can cause them to exhibit increased angry behaviors. This may be because the games they’re playing are violent in nature, or they simply get overly frustrated when they are told to stop playing. 

If you find your child is getting unusually upset with you when you limit their video game time, it might be a sign they’ve become addicted to gaming. The more out-of-character their reaction, the more likely it is that they need a good break from video games. 

Mood swings

Part of growing up is learning how to control your emotions, and sometimes it takes a while for kids to develop this skill. If you feel like your kid has really high highs and really low lows, it could very well be a natural part of their growing up — especially during the preteen and teen years. However, this could also point to a larger issue if the mood swings seem more extreme than normal and they’ve been spending longer amounts of time on their games. 


One of the biggest downsides of video games is how isolating they can be. Of course, this isn’t always true, as video games can be enjoyed with others and they often are. But it’s not uncommon for kids to get so wrapped up in the game, they end up being alone in their room for hours. Whole weekends could fly by if you’re careful.

When it comes to playing video games with others online, it’s important to exercise caution. While it’s not always a bad thing, it shouldn’t completely substitute in-person socialization. Not to mention — there’s an increased risk that your kid could start chatting with strangers and potential predators the more time they spend online. 

Building in-person relationships are crucial in a child’s development and a video game addiction can easily impede that. Be sure your’s child’s time is balanced with social activities, as well as time to relax at home when they need it. 

Increased conflict with friends and family

Of course, kids are always going to have their harsh moments even if they’re not addicted to video games. A part of growing up is learning how to handle conflicts. What parents should look for is consistent behavior where they lash out against friends and family. This — coupled with other symptoms — could point to a video game addiction. 

Again, you know your child best and you’ll know this behavior calls for a closer look into their gaming habits. 

Withdrawal symptoms

One major sign of video game addiction is how your child reacts when you take them away. If they express intense anger or any emotional distress, then it’s clear they have an unhealthy relationship with video games. This can be similar to withdrawal symptoms, which are an inevitable part of any addiction. 

Physical issues

Video games can take a physical toll as well, causing damage to eyesight, back pain, joint soreness, and headaches. This can cause severe discomfort and could even lead to permanent damage if healthy steps aren’t taken. 

Hygiene concerns

Now, lots of kids have hygiene issues — especially going into puberty when putting on deodorant hasn’t become a daily routine yet. But if your child is addicted to video games, it’ll be more intense than that. Maybe they won’t shower for days and they constantly wear dirty clothes — and this goes for their bedroom as well. You might notice things like the bed is never made and there’s always trash or clothes on the floor. 

Essentially, kids with a video game addiction will shift all their priorities so they can game as much as possible. Even if most kids don’t necessarily care about a clean room or having the best grades, addiction will make it even harder to keep up with those responsibilities. 

Constantly talking about video games

Kids always love to talk about their interests and whatever game they’re currently playing. But does it seem like it’s all your kid can talk about? If it seems like every conversation with your child goes back to their games, it could be another sign that they have an extreme attachment to their games. 

Remember that it’s actually a really good thing when kids express their interests and have a passion for something — even if it is video games. But parents will want to make sure it’s balanced and doesn’t keep them from living healthy, normal lives. 

How to Support Your Child

If you’re worried about your child’s video game usage, the best first step is simply talking to your child about it. Ask them why they enjoy video games and try to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions. If your child does have a video game addiction, remind them that you are always there to support them as you take steps to get them help. 

Bark also wants to support your family when it comes to screen time and technology use. Our service lets parents monitor what their child is doing online so they can see if there are causes for concern related to video game use. It can also help parents manage screen time to ensure that their children are not using their devices more than they should be. Start your free trial today!

iphone on tripod, next to crossed circle

Parents, if you think about the advertising we grew up watching, it probably seems different from what our kids watch today. We remember our favorite commercials and celebrity endorsements — kids today will likely grow up to remember their favorite ‘social media influencers’, which didn’t even exist when we were young! 

If your kids spend any time on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, there’s no doubt they’ve scrolled past an influencer or two. But they may have also come across a ‘de-influencer’, which is a new trend that’s sprung up on social media recently. 

We are always looking for the latest trends that could pop up on your child’s social media feed so we can inform parents about what’s going on and what are the potential risks that come with it. So today, we’re going to explain exactly what the difference is between influencers vs. de-influencers and how your child could be impacted by it. Let’s jump in!

Influencer vs. De-Influencer: What’s the Difference?

Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is super effective when it comes to our purchasing decisions. If you have a friend that absolutely raves over a new cleaning product they bought and tells you — “See how shiny and clean my kitchen counters are! You have to try it!” — that’s pretty convincing, right? Especially if you were already thinking your kitchen counters could use some more attention. 

Well, that’s exactly how online influencers work — except it’s a random person on your Instagram feed and they’re getting paid by the company to say it. The best influencers know how to come off as authentic and trusting as possible, which in turn convinces us to trust the company with our purchase. 

And de-influencers work in the same yet opposite way. Instead, imagine your friend saying, “Ugh, I just spent so much money on this and it did nothing to my kitchen counters! The advertising seemed so convincing but seriously, don’t fall for it!” 

De-influencers initially came about as a stand against the influencer market and the mindset that we need to have all the latest and newest things. The earliest de-influencer content was calling out this overconsumption and urged people to think more critically about their spending habits. 

However, as noble as the de-influencer movement may have started, it’s unfortunately been muddled by influencers using the trend to push their products anyways. Essentially they’ll say, “Don’t get this, you don’t need it — but you can try this product instead!

Being a Kid in the Age of Influencers

Most adults are used to the flood of marketing ploys in our feed and we know when we’re being sold something – not to say it stops us from believing it and buying that new gadget anyways — but kids can have a different experience. 

If they spend a lot of time on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, they probably encounter influencers constantly. And we know that kids can often find comfort in these online influencers, especially when the creator makes content around your kid’s interests like music, beauty, fitness, or video games. And on top of that, sometimes the influencer is a kid themselves, which can make them even more trusting and authentic to your child. There’s a chance your kid could not even realize they are being sold something if the creator seems genuine enough. 

With kids being a lot more impressionable, the risk is not just that they’ll try to buy all the things that are peddled on their feed. Kids could also pick up unhealthy or harmful messages, depending on the influencers they follow. One of these messages could be that kids believe they "need" certain things and they don't want to be caught using or wearing the "wrong" thing. This could lead to an unhealthy view of themselves if they can’t keep up with all the trends. 

Kids nowadays take in a ton of content — from influencers or otherwise — so it’s crucial that kids are taught healthy digital citizenship habits, which include recognizing when a creator has a bias in whatever they are selling or pushing. 

How Bark Can Help

Keeping up with your child’s social media is a daunting task, but Bark can help. Our award-winning service monitors 30+ apps and sends alerts straight to your phone if your child encounters any harmful content, such as sexual content, violent messaging, bullying, predation, and more. Start your free 7-day trial today! 

father and son, son getting ready for school

Every parent knows the struggle of getting their kids up and out the door on any given day. Some kids need at least seven wake up calls before they can actually get out of bed and other kids make it their mission to never put on a winter coat (even in freezing temperatures). And when the mornings are frustrating, it can make the whole day seem stressful and overwhelming. 

But there’s hope yet! Believe it or not, finding a great morning routine for kids doesn’t have to be so far out of reach. Lots of parents have found themselves in the same spot and eventually created healthy rhythms to make the mornings way smoother for both the parents and the sleepy kiddos. 

So we found some of the most tried-and-true ways to improve your family’s morning routine and put it all here in one place! Let’s take a look!

Bark’s Morning Routine Checklist For Kids 

Starting with the night-before routine 

Morning-routine experts have long held that the best morning routines actually start about 12 hours before the alarm goes off. The idea is to de-clutter the morning as much as possible by completing certain tasks the night before. So maybe you pack all the school lunches the night before instead of scrambling to do it in the morning. Or perhaps you start having your kids shower and pick out their clothes before bed the night before. You might find these things are a more enjoyable experience when the kiddos aren’t grumpy and groggy from just waking up. 

Similarly, making sure everyone is getting a good night’s sleep will do wonders for your mornings. As long as your night-before-routine includes a consistent bedtime that allows for a proper amount of sleep, then you’re already one step closer to a healthier morning experience!

Don’t forget your morning routine!

As parents, it’s easy to forget to take time for ourselves. Even harder to consider doing that in the morning — which could be at the crack of dawn depending on when your kids wake up. But tons of parents have found it helpful to schedule even just 15 minutes before the kids wake up to have a little me-time. Maybe you just make your coffee and slowly drink it in peace. Or you read a book for a couple of minutes, maybe even get a quick workout in. Whatever it is, you might find you have a more clear and more positive head-space with the kids when you’ve already started the day with yourself.  

Seeing the opportunity for autonomy

While the morning routine is — more often than not — a team effort, it’s also a chance for kids to step into some responsibility and autonomy. Think about the morning chores you usually do and try having your kid do them more consistently instead. The benefit is two-fold — your kid learns responsibility and it’s one less thing that you have to worry about! 

Additionally, particularly for older kids, giving them the space to create their own morning routine can help grow their independence. Maybe you tell them they have to be up by a certain time, but after that, they can decide if they eat breakfast first or get ready first. The freedom to make these small decisions can build their confidence and even show them that you trust their decision-making skills. 

The great balance of consistency and flexibility

The more consistent your morning routine, the better. For lots of families, this means having physical written schedules for the morning, as well as who does which tasks. Could be something along the lines of …

Kids benefit immensely from this type of structure. In fact, the CDC notes that when parents build structure for their kids through consistency and predictability, kids will feel “safe and secure because they know what to expect.” 

But there’s another side to the coin. While consistency is great, it’s not always reality. As a parent, it’s important to anticipate mornings where things will go sideways, sometimes for no good reason at all. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is real — and both parents and kids can have an off morning every once in a while. 

So that’s where the flexibility comes in. While striving for predictability, remember to keep calm and collected if the morning starts to go off the rails. There will be times when all the chores don’t get done, or maybe someone will sleep in past the alarm. It’s bound to happen, but parents who respond with a cool head (or at least try to) will teach their kids the importance of adapting to things going wrong. 

How Bark Can Help With Morning Routines For Kids 

And there you have it, Bark’s guide to a better morning routine for kids. Bark helps families by providing online monitoring, screen time management, web filtering, and so much more. We can even help with morning routines through the remote alerts feature on the Bark Phone — parents can create an alarm on their Bark app that will go off on the child’s Bark Phone. That way you can be sure they’re woken up exactly when you need them to be! 

We hope this guide helps your family reach your new morning routine goals! Good luck!

kid on his computer, emoji eyes and safety sticker around him

Between computer screens, smartphones and TV, American teens spend an average of nine  hours a day watching or using screens. While your child may enjoy connecting with friends or might be working on important school work, excessive screen time can have serious consequences. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, extended screen time can lead to headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck and back pain and difficulty concentrating—all symptoms of eye strain from screens. If you want to protect your kids from digital eye strain symptoms or are just looking for some ways to ease your own computer eye strain symptoms, check out these five easy tips below that’ll help you give your eyes a break.

5 Tips To Protect Kids From Digital Eye Strain Symptoms

1. Keep the 20/20/20 Rule in Mind

One of the most powerful ways to reduce eye strain is to take periodic breaks. These don’t have to be huge interruptions into your day but can be fit into your usual schedule with a short exercise known as the 20/20/20 rule. The 20/20/20 rule asks screen users to take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Less than one minute of your time to prevent day-draining digital eye strain symptoms? Yes, please. 

2. Blink Often 

Did you know that when you view computer or phone screens, you blink less often than if you were reading a printed page? Blinking helps refresh and moisten your eyes, keeping them hydrated and happy. So the less you blink, the more likely your eyes will dry out, leading to painful, irritated lenses and blurry vision. The simple remedy to this problem—make a conscious effort to blink more often while playing or working on screens.

3. Consider Artificial Tears and Perscription Glasses

Sometimes blinking more often just doesn’t cut it. If you are struggling with dry, irritated eyes after working on your screen all day, consider picking up some eye drops or artificial tears from your local drugstore or your eye doctor. On the other hand, if you are struggling with seeing your screen early in the day, consider visiting your eye doctor to see if you need corrective glasses. 

Many people that don’t require glasses in their day-to-day life can often benefit from corrective lenses when it comes to screen time. Steer clear of contacts that can increase dry eye symptoms, though and instead opt for glasses that can block excess air and drying of the eye. As for blue light glasses, doctors worldwide agree that while blue light glasses can’t hurt, they don’t really help either. Studies have found that they have no significant effect on digital eye strain symptoms—as blue light is not a contributing factor to eye strain.

4. Adjust Your Lighting 

Doctors recommend that you keep the room softly lit to reduce eye strain when it comes to watching TV. In general, screens should be dust free, in focus and at a brightness level that matches the room lighting around you. It’s also essential that there’s no glare on your screen from other light sources above or behind you. Consider turning off bright overhead lights and pulling down your blinds to make things easier on your eyes. If turning off or down the lights isn’t an option, consider purchasing an anti-glare screen protector.

5. Move Your Screen

Laptops are often the worst offenders when it comes to digital eye strain. While it may be tempting to work with your computer in your lap on the couch, the impact of just a few hours spent looking down at your screen can strain your eyes and neck. The optimal position for any computer screen is directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away, with the top of your screen at or just below eye level.  

How to Keep Your Kid’s Digital Health in Tip-Top Shape 

While these tips can help with digital eye strain symptoms, a break from screens may be just what your kid needs at the end of the day. If you’re at a loss on how to talk to your kid about healthy screen time, check out our guide here. Need a helping hand to enforce your screen time rules? Bark can help you set screen time limits on your child’s devices with just the touch of a button.  

popular tv characters with "tv-14" stickers

It's a teen takeover. Today many of the world’s most popular shows are centered around teens and their coming-of-age stories. From Netflix’s No. 1 Ginny & Georgia to Hulu’s viral Cruel Summer series, these stories are packed with drama, suspense, and young love.

But for all their entertainment value and little nuggets of wisdom, there are quite a few plot points and scenes that make some of TV’s top-billed teen shows decidedly not for teens. From the glamourization of cyberbullying to violence, drug use, sex, and self-harm, we’ve compiled a list of shows about teens that aren’t for teens and should be skipped or watched with an adult.

Seven More Shows That Aren’t For Teens

Ginny & Georgia — Rated TV-14 for sex, self-harm, language, and mature content

This dramedy follows the journey of Georgia and Ginny, a mother-daughter duo, as they relocate to a new town and delve into their relationships while also grappling with the hidden and ominous secrets from their past. With a witty and honest back-and-forth dialogue between mother and daughter, many draw comparisons to 2000s favorite Gilmore Girls—but that’s where the similarities stop. Ginny & Georgia has a decisively darker, more mature tone than Gilmore Girls. Characters struggle with abusive relationships, turn to self-harm behaviors, and indulge in drugs and alcohol at a young age.

While identifying toxic relationships and learning more about the dangers of self-harm are two important topics that teens can learn from, without dialogue from their parents guiding them through these difficult themes, teens might glamourize abusive relationships and normalize dangerous behaviors as just another part of teenage life. 

Elite — Rated TV-14 for sex, violence, and alcohol

This Spanish-language drama takes place in a prestigious private high school and follows the complicated lives of its students as they navigate relationships, power dynamics, love, and murder. The show depicts mature themes, including outright physical violence and emotional manipulation. Characters are also shown using and selling drugs and participating in toxic romantic and platonic relationships.

Parents should be aware that these mature themes, although explored in a fictional setting, may not be suitable for younger viewers. While the show shines a light on class dynamics, privilege, and pressure to succeed, most, if not all, of the main characters model harmful behaviors and often act on impulse taking things to the extreme.

Stranger Things — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content

A nostalgic fan-favorite, this science-fiction/horror series is set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The show primarily centers on the mysterious disappearance of a young boy and the strange events that occur in the aftermath, including the arrival of a girl named Eleven. The show features supernatural elements, including a parallel universe called the Upside Down, with creative and downright frightening monsters that threaten the town's residents. 

As the seasons of Stranger Things have progressed, the creatures have gotten more terrifying — think mind-controlling demons — and the themes more mature. While the show certainly offers valuable lessons about the strength of friendship, bravery, and the power of imagination for many, the gruesome violence and haunting monsters have pushed this show toward a more mature audience and away from teen viewers.

The 100 — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi series is set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse wiped out almost all life on Earth. The show follows a group of 100 teenage delinquents who are sent from a space station to the ground to test if it is habitable once again. The characters are forced to navigate the dangerous and unpredictable new world and the political and interpersonal conflicts that arise among them.

Parents and teens praise the centering of a strong female lead at the show’s core but particularly dislike the violent and gory themes often featured in the plot. From graphic images of characters impaled by spears, strung up in trees, and subjected to torture, this show may not be suitable for all viewers, particularly younger ones. 

Skins — Rated TV-MA for sexual content, drug use, and language

This 2000’s-era British teen drama explores the complexities of teenage life and the struggles of growing up. It follows a group of high school students navigating the ups and downs of adolescence, including relationships, sexuality, identity, and substance abuse. The show is known for its frank and controversial depiction of the grittier sides of teenage life.

While Skins gets rave reviews from older viewers, parents note that the aggressive drug use, illicit student-teacher relationships, and numerous sex scenes put it off limits to younger kids and iffy for teens. If your child is watching Skins, it's important to address the way toxic relationships, sex, and drugs are glamourized throughout the show and how these risky behaviors can have serious consequences.

Teen Wolf — Rated TV-14 for violence, language, and mature content

This supernatural drama follows teenager Scott McCall as he navigates life as a newly transformed werewolf while also dealing with typical teenage struggles such as relationship issues, school problems, and family drama. Parents and teens applaud the successful six-season show for its entertaining plot and ability to deal with important coming-of-age issues.

That being said, there are certainly violent and gory themes at the show’s core. Bodies are cut in half. Characters are sacrificed, hunted, kidnapped and tortured regularly. Viewers also note the absence of hardly any good adult role models and the frequent appearance of alcohol and drugs at parties. 

Cruel Summer — Rated TV-14 for violence, sex, and frightening scenes

This mystery-thriller follows two young women, Jeanette and Kate, over the course of three summers in the 1990s after one of the women is abducted. The show has a modern focus on popularity, exclusion, and the social dynamics of teen girls. It is lauded for its unflinching take on cyberbullying and fitting in in the digital age as well as the lengths teens will go to get the approval of their peers. 

The tone of the show is undoubtedly dark, with an abduction plot that features a teen girl confined and abused by an adult man. The show also touches on domestic violence, with a teen boy hitting a girl in the nose and making her bleed. After a short apology, she forgives him immediately. Between these scenes and the heavy mental health components of the show, parents should consider talking with their older teens about these mature themes and keeping the show off-limits for younger viewers.

How to Manage What Your Kid is Watching

With all of the available streaming services, networks, and channels, it can be challenging to ensure everything your child is watching is age-appropriate. Bark helps save you time and takes the guesswork out of finding a fun family feature by providing parental controls that allow you to observe, block, and control certain apps. Start your free 7-day trial today.

Be sure to check out part one of our TV shows about teens that aren't for teens!

laptop with cartoon brain on it

Have you noticed the excitement over artificial intelligence (AI) lately? You may have first noticed the technological advances when automated chatbots started popping up on most websites. Perhaps you know the frustration of trying to get through the bot to speak with a human only to receive the same automated, generic responses over and over.

It's like the automated phone systems that have frustrated us for years are suddenly unleashed on the internet. Thankfully, there are some less frustrating and more exciting advances in AI technology. Many are showing up as AI trends on social media, which means you and your children are likely seeing and maybe even participating in them.

While some of these trends are a lot of fun, they also come with some serious risks. Before you download the next big AI app or give your child the green light on that silly Facebook game, take a moment to consider the downsides of social media AI applications.

The State of AI Technology Today

Artificial intelligence is the science of training computers to function as humans. There are four main types of artificial intelligence, and each requires a different level of technological innovation. Understanding these types will tell you where we are today and where the technology is expected to go in the future.

  1. Reactive Machines – The most basic form of AI. Machines process real-time requests or data without storing information or learning and developing advanced skills. They simply react to incoming stimuli. Many chatbot applications fall into this category. They read for keywords and deliver pre-written responses.
  2. Limited Memory – Machines process real-time data while storing information and using it to develop more advanced skills over time. Incoming information is saved in a growing knowledge database, so the machine becomes smarter with time.
  3. Theory of Mind – The ability of limited memory machines is combined with an introductory level of emotional recognition and response. The machine collects hard data and stores it but can also pick up on human emotions and make future predictions based on all collected information. Imagine if you threw a few angry cusswords at a chatbot, and they understood that you were frustrated.
  4. Self-Aware AI – Machines develop a sense of self and have emotions of their own. They understand our emotions, words, and behaviors but also think about their own needs, desires, and emotions.

Today’s AI technology falls into the Limited Memory category. While Alexa may remember what you ordered from Amazon last week, she doesn’t pick up on your emotions as you ask for a reminder to call your mom at 3 p.m. or a weather report at 4 a.m.

What Alexa does is record and store a lot of information. If you have one of Amazon’s home assistant devices, that information may include private conversations that you don’t want anyone else to hear, let alone want to have recorded. That’s an example of the risks that come with the convenience and fun of AI, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.

The use of AI in social media was an $800 million industry in 2020. It’s expected to become an industry worth more than $3,500 million by 2026. Much of that activity was attributable to marketers using AI to focus ad campaigns on select groups. That is shifting now with the development of AI apps that allow users to simply have fun while on social media platforms.

Here are some of the AI trends you may notice on social media platforms today:

All of these social media AI trends have their own risks. To show what you should look out for, we’re going to focus on AI art generators in more depth.

AI Art Generators – What are They? 

AI art generators are applications that turn existing images into artistic or creative images. It’s the AI version of going to a street fair or amusement park and paying an artist to sketch your face as a cartoon. The difference is that these advanced apps can generate 20 or more images in just a few hours or even less. Some apps turn a single image into a creative work of art in just seconds or minutes.

This is one of those AI trends that look like pure fun. How can something that allows people of all ages to act silly and laugh while connecting with others be harmful? It may seem harmless, but we’re going to show you the risks in just a moment.

There are two popular AI art generators appearing on social media today:

If you use social media regularly, perhaps you’ve seen some of these AI-edited photos on some of your friends’ profiles. From cartoon caricatures to hand drawings, there is a wide range of applications for these AI trends.

What are the Dangers of Using AI Art Generators?

We’re going to use Lensa’s privacy policy to dig into some of the biggest risks of using AI art generators or photo editors. Many of the AI apps offered today come with the same basic risks to your security.

Let’s start by pointing out that many users have a false sense of security when using AI in social media apps. They realize that they’re sharing pictures from their profiles or photos stored on their phones and computers, but they don’t realize what permissions they’re giving and what is often associated with those pictures.

Here’s a quote directly from the privacy policy on Lensa’s website:

“Your photos are posted and transmitted to others at your own risk. Please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”

They’re stating outright that no security measures are completely secure. Unfortunately, most users will never read the privacy policy before deciding to participate in an AI trend online. Let’s dig into the details of the major risks that come with these apps.

Access to Personal Information

The Lensa app collects the following information from all users:

The privacy policy also states that if you don’t want them to collect this information, you shouldn’t use the app. You can’t opt out of information collection or the deposit of cookies on your device, though they do give information for blocking cookies on your device.

Some social media AI apps also collect information from your online profiles, including your name, birth date, and other sensitive information. A lot of this information is used to group users by a variety of demographics for marketing purposes.

There is still the possibility of misuse, which is why the Lensa privacy policy also includes this warning:

“Although we do our best to protect your collected information, we cannot guarantee the safety of the collected information transmitted to or through Prisma or an absolute guarantee that such information may not be accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed.”

There were more than 4,000 known data breaches in 2022. There’s clearly a risk of any information collected by an app being leaked at any moment. The more they’re allowed to collect, the more consumers have on the line when these breaches occur.

Lack of Consumer Protection

There are laws that at least partially control what developers and organizations can do with the information they collect from consumers using AI apps and other technologies. Unfortunately, those protections are only valid within the United States.

You can vow only to use apps that are developed and managed within the U.S., but that doesn’t fully protect you. The Lensa privacy policy includes a clause that states data they collect may be transferred to other countries that don’t offer the same consumer protections as the U.S. They basically relieve themselves of any liability if something is to happen with your data while in another country that doesn’t offer adequate consumer protections, even if they transfer the data to that country.

Many social media users have no idea that these apps are using the services of providers in other countries. They also don’t think about the lack of consumer protection and security regulations in those other countries.

Inappropriate Content for Minors

Not all content on social media AI apps is appropriate for younger users. Parents and guardians may think that the images generated by a photo-editing app look like cartoons, drawings, or other innocent creative expressions. Unfortunately, there are often adult images and components hidden within the app. Some children may see and hear those components without their parents knowing.

The Lensa privacy policy does state that the app is designed for users over the age of 13. Many AI apps do have recommended age limits, but most don’t go far enough to ensure that children under that age limit aren’t using the product.  

You may have to dig around to find the recommended age limit for every application your children want to use, but it’s worth the effort. In a moment, we’ll talk about how you can set social media and AI boundaries for your children and make sure the rules are enforced in real-time.

What can you do to protect yourself and your children with advancing AI in social media? We have a long list of suggestions. The more of these you implement, the safer you may feel online.

Lensa’s privacy policy recommends users disable cookies on their browsers. That’s a great idea if you want to avoid cookies that allow tracking for online activity. Doing so may disqualify you from using some features of AI social media apps. The Lensa privacy policy does state that disabling cookies and other tracking resources will make some features of the app inaccessible.

Keep Your Kids Safe in the World of AI

We promised to tell you how to set boundaries for your kids on social media and enforce your rules in real time. Here it is: Sign up for Bark!

The Bark app allows you to monitor the content your children are consuming while filtering websites and apps that you don’t want them to access. You can set location alerts so that you know when your child breaks a specified geographical boundary or monitor screen time without taking physical possession of a child’s device.

It’s important to research all applications, websites, and platforms that your child wants to use. Once you decide the rules and limitations for using those resources, Bark makes it easy to enforce the rules with your child. It’s a powerful app that gives parents more control in a world with so many hidden dangers and risks.

teen couple with heart and smiley face emoji

We all remember being a teenager and the drama that surrounded the dating scene. Flashforward to today and you're now probably hearing your kids talk about their friends who got cuffed and started simping for their bae. Or about the situationships that are about to have the dreaded DTR conversation.

If those sentences made absolutely no sense to you, then you’re in the right place! The dating scene looks — and sounds — a little different than when we were in grade school. So we put together a Gen Z dating slang guide to help parents know exactly what all of these terms mean.

Let’s jump in!

2023 Gen Z Slang Guide for Dating and Relationships

Bae — Short for “baby." Often a pet name for a crush or significant other.  

Benching — Just like in sports, benching someone in dating means putting them to the side to date other people. Benching is usually brought on when they do something to annoy or upset you. 

Breadcrumbing — When someone leads you on by flirting and making you feel special but without any intention to actually commit to a relationship. What's left is a "breadcrumb" trail that keeps you attached.

Cuffing / Cuffing season — "Cuffing" simply means to get into a relationship. "Cuffing season" specifically refers to winter, when you’d want someone to snuggle with while it’s colder outside.  

DTR — Stands for "define the relationship." This usually occurs after the “talking phase” (see below) when both parties have expressed feelings and it’s time to decide if both want to make it official. 

Gaslighting — This has become a popular term on the internet but it refers to a form of psychological manipulation in which a significant other makes you feel crazy or wrong, even when unjustified. 

Ghosting — A term that’s been around for quite a while now, ghosting is essentially getting dumped with no explanation. One day you’re talking to each other and things seem fine — the next day, radio silence and the relationship is over. People often ghost instead of dumping someone.

Ick factor — Similar to a red flag, the ick factor is when there’s a certain quality or trait about another person that you just simply don’t like. It’s usually small things, but they can add up to make that person undateable. Some popular examples from the internet include when guys wear flip-flops or when girls wear too much makeup. 

ILY — An acronym for “I love you.”

Pink flags — Based on the idea of red flags, pink flags are on step down. They aren’t huge warning signals that something is wrong, but they can hint that this relationship isn’t super healthy. 

Rizz — Stemming from the word “charisma”, rizz is similar to having “game" — specifically with romantic pursuits. 

Simp — Refers to a “try-hard”, or someone who goes way out of their way to do things for their crush or significant other. 

Smash — A term that means to have casual sex. 

Snack — Used to describe an attractive person; someone who looks good enough to eat. Sometimes spelled "snacc."

Sneaky link — Refers to someone you’re seeing or hooking up with secretly. 

Situationship — Describes two people who are not officially dating but who have feelings for each other. 

Talking / Talking phase — This term describes the phase between flirting and official dating. This means you’re probably texting this person more than other people in your life but you’re nowhere near ready to be exclusive. For example, it’s common to hear “No, I’m not dating anyone. But me and this guy from another school are talking.” 

Thirsty — To be desperate for romantic and/or sexual attention. 

Zaddy — Refers to an attractive, well-dressed man. Often, it’s an older man — think Jeff Goldblum or Idris Elba.  

Zombie-ing — This happens after someone ghosts you, and then decides to start talking to you again like nothing ever happened. A “coming back from the dead,” if you will. 

The Never-Ending Gen Z Slang

So there you have it! Now you are properly prepared to navigate your teen’s dating lexicon. But of course, Gen Z slang is always changing and evolving. Did you know Bark's monitoring service can actually decipher what kids are saying to find potential issues? You'll get alerts for concerning content in texts, emails, and social media — even if it's new slang or emojis! Start your 7-day free trial today.

teen girl on her phone, cartoon hearts around her

Being a teen can sometimes feel lonely and isolating. In the digital age, however, new friends and connections are seemingly just a click away. This means more and more teens are turning to social networking sites and dating apps to make connections every day. One of the most popular? An app called MyLOL.

While your teen or the MyLOL website may tell you that it’s engineered to be a safe space for young people, dangers loom underneath the surface. Read on to learn more about what MyLOL is, if it’s a safe space for your teen, and how you can talk with your teen about online dating apps.

What is MyLOL?

Mylol brands itself as the No. 1 teen dating site in the USA, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The website claims to have over 1 million teenagers 13–19 years old from around the world who are happy to chat and form a connection. 

At the time of writing this article, the MyLOL app is no longer available for download on the Apple or Google Play app stores. However, teens (or anyone for that matter) can make a profile on the website and begin interacting with other users in a variety of ways. 

Here are just a few of the things you can do on MyLOL

Is MyLOL safe?  

Despite the idea that MyLOL should be a safe place for teens 13-19 to socialize without worrying about adults, a quick Google search will pull up pages of poor parental reviews and harrowing news stories.

These are just a few of the dangers of MyLOL

Talking to your child about dating apps and internet safety 

Whether it is MyLOL or other dating apps or platforms, at some point, your teen is likely to test the waters of online dating. It’s essential to come from a place of compassion and concern, not judgment when talking with them about the dangers of online dating. Emphasize how many people aren’t who they seem online and that they can come to you anytime if things start to feel weird or unsafe. 

How to Protect Your Child

Beyond chatting with your child, Bark is here to help you monitor potential threats to your child and let you know when they have been exposed to potentially harmful content. 

Bark can help alert you when your child creates a MyLOL account, and it can even help you block it altogether. Explore all of your options with Bark and start your free trial today.