What to Do When You Get a Bark Alert
**This blog post was updated on December 14, 2023.**
Whether you’re brand new to Bark or your family’s been using our monitoring service for a while, getting a Bark alert can be scary. As a parent, you always want to do what’s best for your child. But it’s not always easy to know exactly what that looks like! And while the circumstances of every potential issue may differ, there are a few ways to make each one easier to handle.
To begin, it’s helpful to know what to expect from the app. When an alert comes through, you’ll receive a notification with the category (such as Cyberbullying, Depression, or Self-harm) along with a snippet of the actual conversation. This will give you some context for what your child is dealing with, as well as how severe and urgent it is. You’ll then be able to decide on what should happen next.
It’s worth noting that not all alerts mean that your child is in serious danger. Plenty of parents are alerted to online behavior or activities that are not necessarily dangerous but show that their kid could use some guidance in a certain area. You might also get alerts to conversations where it’s not your kid who is struggling, but their friend. This provides a wonderful opportunity to share how to be there for others when they need help.
Understand the Issue
Bark sends alerts for anything ranging from profanity and cyberbullying all the way to suicidal ideation and sexual grooming. So depending on the alert, you may be confused or even frightened, especially if it catches you completely off guard. Whenever possible, you’ll also want to do everything you can to learn about the issue that is challenging your child. If they are sexting, you might read about age-appropriate sexual curiosity. If your child is depressed, seek guidance on how to help them.
Another thing to consider is that some apps — Snapchat and Instagram in particular — remove some of their users’ information before it gets to Bark, including names. This can make it hard to know who is saying what in the conversation that generated your alert. You may need to talk to your kid about what exactly happened.
Growing up in the digital age can be messy and complicated. But by taking the time to understand what your child is going through, you’ll be in a much better position to help them overcome it. The Bark blog is an excellent resource for parents looking for guidance on how to help keep their kids safe both online and in real life.
Talk to Your Child
Many parents have told us they get a lot of value out of Bark alerts because of the important conversations they spark. Oftentimes, parents don’t know there’s an issue until Bark sends them an alert, and although these moments can be scary, they provide opportunities for potentially life-changing lessons.
It’s also a good idea to keep the conversations going. While some issues are rare, others are not likely to disappear overnight. Cyberbullying, depression, and sexual content might be recurring challenges that require regular check-ins with your child to make sure that they’re not upset, upsetting others, or using their devices inappropriately. By reinforcing good digital citizenship practices, your child will learn how to avoid many of the pitfalls of the online world on their own.
Get Help If It’s Urgent
While many issues are best managed with informed and ongoing discussions about digital safety, there’s not always time to talk things over. Some alerts are time-sensitive and serious enough that you should reach out for help immediately. If you’re alerted to something like a suicide note, an imminent threat of violence, or a conversation with a sexual predator, call the police, your child’s school, or anyone else who is appropriate given the circumstances.
It’s not easy to learn that your child might be struggling, but with the right support and guidance, you’ll be able to handle any Bark alert. For more perspectives on parenting in a tech world, join our private Facebook group, where you can gain insight from the real experiences of parents all across the country and post questions that you need to have answered.
Here are some additional resources to help you through any issues you may be facing:
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.