The Top Apps Parents Should Monitor to Protect Their Kids
**This post was updated May 11, 2021.**
Engaged parents know the challenges kids face as they dive into the world of social media. That’s why it’s important for parents to be a guiding force in teaching online etiquette. Bark was created to support parents by detecting and alerting you to potential issues, allowing teens privacy, and providing the tools necessary to speak to them about potential issues. While issues can arise on pretty much any platform, here are some of the top apps that are most popular with teens and tweens, so you can make sure you’re monitoring them closely.
Instagram is one of the top apps for teens that focuses primarily on photos and videos. Teens can share selfies, memes, and anything else they enjoy, which then allows others to leave comments. Instagram is a great way to keep in touch, but it also presents plenty of opportunities for cyberbullying and inappropriate behavior. With the advent of subtweeting, Finstas, and pornographic hashtags, Instagram is no longer just about pretty pictures. Bark monitors the images, videos, and comments your child posts. Additionally, we can monitor Instagram direct messages and searches on connected Android and Amazon devices. However, Instagram does not allow external access to private messages on iOS… yet!
Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms among teens. This is partly because Snapchat automatically erases photos and text messages after a few seconds. Kids may think they will not get caught when they send risky messages to someone, but they often don’t consider that other users can take screenshots or even screen recordings of their Snaps. These can then be shared and potentially used for cyberbullying and other nefarious purposes.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce risky behaviors on Snapchat. It’s normal for teens to explore their sexuality, but remind them that sexting and sending nudes or other explicit messages can carry criminal liability. Additionally, Bark is able to scan public and private Snapchat stories and monitor Snapchat direct messages (DMs) on Android and Amazon devices.
GroupMe allows Android and iPhone users to group chat with each other easily over Wi-Fi, letting them stay within their data limits. The app can also be used to schedule events or send money, and it has an array of emojis and GIFs available. However, the emoji and GIF features are not always age-appropriate and may include adult content. There is also no way to delete a past post, which means a user’s control over their content is very limited. However, Bark is able to monitor your child’s group messages and private messages on GroupMe, including the images and media associated with each.
Twitter is another one of the top apps that kids use to share memes or keep track of their favorite celebrities. Monitoring Twitter is important, as it is often a top choice for messaging between teens. Bark monitors kids’ Twitter accounts, including their private direct messages. As another safety measure, follow the celebrities that your teen follows and discuss any tweets you see that are inappropriate.
TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps for teens and tweens. Although the platform began as a lip-syncing app, it is now used to create 15-second videos about anything from cooking tutorials to short history lessons to comedy skits. But cyberbullying and sexual content can also be part of the TikTok experience, so monitoring is important. Bark monitors TikTok on Android so that you’re alerted to any potentially concerning content.
The Top Apps and Online Safety
Many teens use social media apps to communicate and share fun memes with their peers. Online safety challenges may arise as teens learn how to use them responsibly. We all have to keep in mind that the frontal lobe — the impulse control and decision-making part of our brains — is not fully developed until our early 20s. Kids do not always understand the permanent and future consequences of today’s actions. This means when your kids or their friends are dealing with online issues like cyberbullying, they need guidance from a trusted adult.
Monitoring your teen’s digital life — especially on these top apps — is an important part of being a digital parent. Sign up with Bark today and connect your teen’s social media apps, emails, text messages, and more.