Summer Safety For Kids
School is beginning to wind down for the summer, but that doesn’t mean that Bark for Schools will be taking a break from summer safety. Our technology, reviewers, School Safety Managers, and customer service team work year-round to make sure that your students are better protected online whether they’re at school, at home, or even writing their summer reading reports on vacation.
This goes for administration, too. No matter what time of year it is, or where your staff might be taking a much-deserved vacation, Bark for Schools has always got your back. We’ve even included a helpful, free feature — the Parent Portal — that allows schools to enlist the support of parents. We take our role as a community partner very seriously. Here’s how Bark for Schools can help your whole school community — especially during the summer.
Summer Safety: A Refresher On the Parent Portal
The Parent Portal (formerly called the Family Alerts Dashboard) is an invaluable tool for helping to keep students safe. Bark detects many potential issues on school-issued G Suite and Office 365 accounts during school hours. But time and again we’ve seen that students are also active on these accounts after hours, over weekends, and during holidays. In fact, times when school is not in session are when we see the highest number of certain kinds of issues.
That’s why it’s so important to have parents and guardians on board with receiving alerts. Kids can use their school-issued accounts around the clock anywhere there’s an internet connection. Many 1:1 schools send their devices home with students over the summer. But even if they didn’t, school-issued accounts can be accessed on any device. Bark monitors at the account level, which means that kids are covered whether they’re using a home computer or school-issued Chromebook. Partnering with parents can prompt a faster response to severe and time-sensitive issues so that kids can get the help they need before it’s too late.
In uniting families with schools, the Parent Portal also gives communities greater insights into what’s going on among their kids. Alerts from Bark can foster awareness of the issues that affect a student’s ability to learn, socialize, and grow into healthy and responsible digital citizens. It takes a village to keep kids safe online, and by enabling the Parent Portal, schools form incredible support networks that can tackle any challenge together.
The Parent Portal is the best way to alleviate some of the stressors on schools while working to keep kids safe online, and it will continue to serve your community as a free safety net throughout the summer break.
Bark for Families
Bark for Schools serves over 1,300 school districts across the U.S., with dozens more joining every month. But concerning online activities — which could be detrimental to your schools, students, and community — are not just confined to school-issued accounts. The Parent Portal is a great bridge for parents to our product for families.
Bark for Families — our flagship product designed to monitor personal accounts — is a subscription service that comes at a discount when registered through the Parent Portal. By monitoring texts, chat, email, YouTube, and 24+ social media platforms, Bark is the perfect complement to everything we offer to schools. We even offer guidance, tools, and resources — like the Barkomatic for parental controls and a tech accountability contract — to help parents raise kids in the digital age.
The Threat of Social Media
We often get the question of how Bark for Families actually helps schools. We know that many students use multiple platforms to engage with their social groups, often hopping from one to another (including school platforms) for various purposes. Among many benefits, however, social media can have a dramatic effect on the well-being of a school. According to the National Association of School Counsellors, social media introduces the following risks:
- Cyberbullying or other online conflicts involving students, faculty, and even the school itself
- The rapid spread of crisis-related rumors and other misinformation
- The sharing of embarrassing, inappropriate, or private information
- Increased perceptions of fear or creating a “crisis contagion” — up to 5% of suicides are attributed to situations where learning about crises led to other crises
- Potential of becoming a substitute for face-to-face socializing, which can lead to depression
All of this should give pause to a school administration, but an informed community is empowered to act in time to make a difference:
- The overwhelming majority of schools tell us that cyberbullying (and its effects) is their primary reason for monitoring their platforms with Bark. But G Suite and Office 365 are only two of dozens of platforms that cyberbullies can abuse. Schools that have parents monitoring social media feel that they have a higher chance of getting ahead of issues.
- Students can be guided on the appropriate use of social media, email, and other services before they post something that could have lasting effects.
- School communities that are aware of the issues facing their kids are empowered to use their learnings across platforms to improve the well-being of the entire student body.
- Parents and schools can identify potentially dangerous situations before they escalate.
- Insights gleaned from social media equip school communities to support their students in the aftermath of a traumatic situation, helping to direct a healthy recovery.
A Solution for the Whole Community
Bark for Schools is a free solution for helping to keep students safe at any time or place on their school-issued accounts — even helping with summer safety! Parents and guardians who are enrolled in the Parent Portal are empowered to tackle those issues for themselves, knowing that their school is a partner in the fight against online threats. Finally, parents can subscribe to have their kid’s personal accounts covered — they can even sign up to receive a free, seven-day trial through our website.
Taken together, and alongside ongoing conversations about digital safety, school communities are doing their part in raising responsible digital citizens. Schools can learn more about Bark for Schools and the Parent Portal by visiting our website. We’re always available for help should you need it.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.