Internet Safety for Kids: Getting Your Child on Board with Bark
If you’ve tried talking about Bark with your kids and didn’t get very far, not to worry. We’ve got help! We totally get it — most kids probably aren’t thrilled to have a monitoring service put on their phone. But they might be surprised to learn that, at the end of the day, Bark actually gives them more privacy, not less. Also, because kids don’t always look at the big picture, you may have to explain some of the very real dangers that monitoring can help protect them from. Read on for tips to make internet safety for kids and the monitoring process a little easier for your family.
Internet Safety for Kids: How to Talk About Bark With Your Children
Explain that this is all uncharted territory
Leading with love, tell your kids that your family’s decision to monitor their online activities wasn’t one that was taken lightly. Explain that literally no other generation of parents in human history has dealt with raising kids that have smartphones. So, there’s not exactly a guidebook! Many of the dangers facing kids are all brand-new, like cyberbullying and online predators. Right now, the best way to address the dangers from technology is actually with more technology — and that’s where Bark comes in.
Present the alternatives
In terms of privacy, Bark isn’t even in the top three most restrictive ways parents can keep tabs on their children’s devices. First, explain that some kids don’t even get smartphones at all — or have to wait until they’re a certain age. Second, some kids have to turn in their phones at the end of each day so their parents scan through all of their texts, posts, and photos. Finally, some families even resort to spying apps that give parents complete access to every single thing on their kid’s phone. Bark is definitely a happy medium in comparison, only alerting parents to potential issues and nothing else.
Highlight external threats
For many families, the main worry isn’t about their own child — it’s about everyone else on the internet. No matter how careful a kid is, there’s always a chance that someone else may lead them into a dangerous situation. This can include cyberbullying, which takes many forms and can cause children severe anxiety and depression. Online predators may also take advantage of a child’s trust and start abusing them through the grooming process. Another example is the recent trend of drug dealers soliciting children on Snapchat. It’s a dangerous world out there, and the internet has made it even more so — especially for kids.
Talk about the dangers
Kids may not believe it, but the number of dangers facing kids is actually pretty high, and they’re incredibly common among young people. Last year, Bark analyzed more than 2.1 billion messages across texts, email, and 30+ apps and social media platforms and found that:
- 76.7% of tweens and 82.0% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.
- 45.5% of tweens and 66.3% of teens engaged in conversations about depression.
- 70.9% of tweens and 87.9% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature.
Watch Childhood 2.0 together
In this eye-opening documentary featuring Bark, actual teens and tweens talk about what it’s really like growing up in the digital age. The film also features experts in technology, pediatrics, and law enforcement who comment on dangers like online predation, anxiety, and more. You can stream Childhood 2.0 absolutely free. Note: This movie addresses serious issues and may not be appropriate for very young children.
Real-Life Examples of How Parents Have Explained Bark to Their Kids
“I explained Bark by comparing it to the alarm system in our home — we don’t even notice that it’s there, but it’s working in the background at all times, only alerting us when something bad is happening.”
“I let them know this isn’t a punishment and explained that I wanted to be transparent and build trust with them rather than snooping behind their backs, and Bark allows me to do that.”
“It’s 100% not because I don’t trust my daughter or that I want to spy on her. I let her know that I understand how she must feel and assure her I’m not going through every post, message, comment, etc. I didn’t make it out to be a big deal. I also put [Bark] in a folder so that she doesn’t notice it every time she scrolls through her apps.”
The Importance of Digital Citizenship
Along with monitoring your kid’s activities, it’s important to teach them how to be a good digital citizen. Phones are tools that they’re going to use for the rest of their lives, so starting healthy habits early is key to helping them thrive. This includes creating family tech contracts, learning how to identify and choose trustworthy sources of information, and striving to act with compassion and empathy while online.
A Stranger Danger Video Made Just for Kids
Often, seeing is believing — especially for children as they learn about some of the dangers of using the internet. That’s why our team created a video to show just how easy it is for an adult to create a fake social media account and masquerade as a kid. In just a few short minutes, kids can learn exactly how people aren’t always who they say they are online. Bark helps parents protect their kids from predators like these. Alerts are sent when conversations may indicate a large age gap or potentially abusive behavior.
Internet safety for kids is a complicated subject, and it can be a challenge to get your children to understand just how important it is. One way to make the process of monitoring with Bark a little easier is to start as soon as possible. The earlier kids understand that having a phone also comes with having Bark, the more they’ll accept it as part of their routine. But no matter their age, hopefully they’ll understand that you’re doing it out of love. And as always, when in doubt, talk it out. Discuss — and keep discussing! — their ideas, feelings, and perspectives on growing up in the digital age.
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.