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Internet Safety Tips

Ultimate Guide to Safer Streaming Sites

The Bark Team  |  May 13, 2020

How many hours of Fortnite could your kid play if they were left uninterrupted? Three? Five? Perhaps the limit does not even exist? Whether you’re six or 86, it’s so easy to get sucked into a Netflix hole or watch movie after movie on Disney+. But for kids, watching movies, playing video games, or listening to songs without having healthy boundaries in place can present some pretty real dangers. From giving them some much-needed digital downtime to preventing them from encountering explicit content that could really upset them or make them anxious, we’ve put together some resources to help keep them safe on streaming sites.

Streaming — playing video, audio, or game content that’s hosted online rather than saved directly to a device — gives people access to enormous libraries of content, which can be both wonderful and worrisome. While watching movies or TV shows together can be a great family bonding activity, if your child is exploring these platforms alone, they can be exposed to materials that contain sexual or violent content, so setting guidelines is an important step to protecting them.

Whether your kid can’t stop having Hulu marathons or they love nothing more than playing video games with their friends, streaming is probably a huge part of their life. Without streaming, people wouldn’t have been able to flood the internet with memes from the latest Netflix hit and kids wouldn’t be able to watch every Peppa Pig video on YouTube. Without streaming, your kid wouldn’t be able to create Spotify playlists for every mood at a moment’s notice. Without streaming, your child wouldn’t be able to learn exactly how to build the strongest village in Clash of Clans.

Streaming is wonderful! But it can pose some risks. Here are some ways to help protect them as they consume online content.

Safer Streaming on Video Sites

Pop up the popcorn and claim the coziest blanket in the house because it’s TV time! A good old-fashioned family screening of Space Jam or The Princess Bride can be the perfect way to laugh the night away together. But when your child is streaming videos on their own, there’s a greater chance that they’ll stumble upon sexual content they aren’t ready to see or violent scenes that can really upset them. 

Luckily, protecting your kid doesn’t have to mean taking away all of their devices and kicking your family’s TV to the curb. Instead, take advantage of the parental control options that streaming platforms offer. From restricting your child’s profile to only display movies and shows with kid-appropriate ratings to setting parent pin codes for restricted categories, we’ve put together all the steps you need to set boundaries that are appropriate for your family!

Guides for Safer Gaming

Whether you’re a gaming family heavily invested in battling against each other in multi-hour Fortnite tournaments or your kid is the only one who knows the first thing about a controller, setting some guidelines for the kinds of gaming content your child can access online can really benefit them.

The biggest danger your child faces while having video game time should be as harmless as a banana peel in Mario Kart — not being exposed to violent content or hate speech from another player in an online game. Setting parental controls in a game, on an app, or directly on the console they’re using to play can help them have a safer gaming experience.

Setting Limits on Spotify

Your kid’s creativity can shine when they’re coming up with new dances to their favorite songs. Plus, rocking out to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a family is a surefire way to help everyone get along when things aren’t as peaceful as you’d like. But as fun as a theatrical performance of “Renegade” can be, streaming music on Spotify isn’t always as simple as a harmless song and dance routine. 

A quick browse can expose your child to explicit lyrics with themes like suicidal ideation, violence, sexual content, and more. If they aren’t quite ready to deal with such serious issues alone, you might want to turn on the explicit content filter so they don’t run into anything that could distress them. Bark can also monitor Spotify lyrics and send you an alert if your kid is listening to something that might be cause for concern.

Creating Streaming Time Limits

Restricting the kinds of content your child streams can help protect them from videos, songs, or gaming experiences that might upset them, but another thing to consider is not just what they’re streaming, but how much time they’re devoting to it. Giving your kid the occasional tech break can encourage them to practice their painting skills, finally teach the family dog not to pull on their leash, or even dive headfirst into that novel you know they won’t be able to put down. 

We created a screen time feature for just that — empowering your child to learn and grow. You can schedule digital downtime for each child so their mind can take a break from streaming sites and instead focus on something else they love for a while.

Whichever parental controls you decide to implement and whatever streaming limits work for your family, the next time your kid pulls up Spotify to listen to a new album or hops on Twitch to watch their favorite gamer beat a particularly tricky level, you’ll hopefully have a little more peace of mind knowing you’ve put some safeguards in place to guide their streaming experience.

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls