Child Monitoring vs Screen Time Restrictions
The big two questions. 1) Are my kids spending too much time online? 2) When online, to who and what are they being exposed? Both of these issues fall under the heading, “protecting kids online.” Both areas of concern are legitimate, but are content monitoring or screen time restrictions the best solution? Fortunately, parents don’t have to choose — Bark offers both services, in addition to web filtering so you can have all the tools you need to raise kids in the digital age in a single package.
Screen Time Restrictions
Doctors recommend that children 2 to 5 should only get one hour of screen time (not counting required things like homework) per day. They also recommend that for 6 and older parents should use their best judgment. Parents are reminded to set a good example — and not always buried in their phones. Of course, measuring screen time can be hard when phone use happens outside of eyesight.
For screen time restriction, using Bark is a good idea, as we allow you to limit entertainment time. Explain to your kids the rules around when they can access entertainment sites, like after they have finished homework. Incorporate these rules as part of your technology contract so the expectations and consequences are clear.
When considering screen time it is worth discussing media-free times and media-free zones. Media free times could include charging phones away from the dinner table or putting phones in bags while riding in the car. Media free zones could include banning devices from the bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom and bedroom are the two major places children are more likely to make risky judgments. They feel the privacy in this room translates to privacy online and are more likely to post inappropriate images and text messages.
Ending screen time a bit before bedtime helps kids calm down before they go to bed. Staring at a screen right up until it’s bedtime can cause poor sleep and thus poor performance in school. One idea is to charge phones in your bedroom so that putting the phone aside is part of their evening routine and necessary to use phones the next day.
Monitoring can be more of a challenge, especially with older children. However, it is as equally important as setting time restrictions. There are very real risks and it is our job as parents to be aware of the risks, and then educate and protect our kids as best has possible. And, a balance between monitoring and privacy is possible with Bark. For tweens and teens completely taking away all devices is not always the best or most practical solution. Using Bark allows you to monitor when something potentially risky happens, but also allows your kids privacy.
We recommend talking about both monitoring and screen time with your kids. Talk to kids about your technology rules and why you have them. Some kids will take this as a sign of not being trusted, but you can explain that while you trust them, you are not going to blindly trust everyone they come in contact with in real life or online.
When it comes to monitoring, discuss why Bark is different. Unlike other monitoring tools Bark does not send you all their information. You can’t see every text message, every “wyd” (i.e. what are you doing?) message with their best friend. However, if someone starts cyberbullying them or sending them inappropriate pictures you will receive an alert. If that happens, then you will work together on how best to respond.
We even created a how-to guide for how talk to your kids about Bark. Whether they’re still pretty young, in those tricky preteen years, or already a teen, this resource can help shape your conversation.
Bark offers both content monitoring and screen time management tools, in addition to web filtering. Use the links above which have concrete suggestions around the conversations you can have about online safety when implementing all of the features of our service. Also keep in mind that there’s no replacement for proper online safety education. That is why an open and honest conversation about the risks and rewards that come with using the internet is also extremely important.