Bark App Review (2019)
Bark App - Keep Kids Safer Online
Ease Of Use9.4 /10
Social Network Coverage9.4 /10
Text Messaging Coverage10.0 /10
Explicit Image Detection9.6 /10
Coverage (Web, iOS & Android)9.7 /10
Speed Of Warnings9.4 /10
- Easy To Setup & Use
- Monitors All Phone, Internet & Social Network Communication
- Covers Every Child In Your House
- Super Low Price ($9/mo)
- Works With All Major Social Networks
- Amazing Customer Service
- Compatible With All Phones (Web, iOS & Android)
- You Need Your Child's Social Media Passwords
- Some Words Labeled As Profanity Really Aren't
- Sometimes You Get False-Positives
This is a review of Bark, the app that helps parents protect their children online by detecting threats such as cyberbullying, predators, sexting, depression & suicide and alerting parents, allowing them to take action.
My hope is that this review also helps educate parents about the current threats their children face every day and what they can do to make the Internet safer for their children.
Whether you end up using Bark or not, the safety of your child is the most important thing.
As adults we know what to do if someone is threatening us. We can go directly to the police. We’re nearly immune to peer pressure. And cyberbullying, while still an issue for every age, is far less prevalent among adults.
The same cannot be said for children.
They face these problems and more every single day and sadly many of them are not prepared to handle it. Whether they’re the aggressor, or being attacked, the damaging impact and harsh consequences are not often fully understood until it’s too late.
This is why Bark was created, to help parents protect their children online by monitoring their activity and scanning for potential threats, but before I get into that I want to highlight just how serious of an epidemic this really is.
There’s no mistaking it, cyberbullying among teens is on the rise.
The latest stats show that 1 in 3 children (17 and under) have experienced threats online, with 25% of them being repeatedly bullied via cell phone (text message/iMessage) or social media apps.
The truly sad statistic is that no more than 50% of these children ever tell someone about these attacks!
To paint a clearer picture. There are over 74,000,000 children under the age of 18 in the United States. If 25% of them are currently being bullied online, that represents 18,500,000 children that aren’t reporting the abuse!
The odds are incredibly high that you personally know a child that’s being bullied online, and for every 8 kids being bullied – 1 doesn’t say a word.
Children may feel embarrassed, or believe telling an adult will subject them to further bullying so they would rather deal with the issues on their own or hope the bullying stops. Some don’t speak out because they feel that no one would help them anyway.
Wouldn’t you want to know if this was happening with your child so you could intervene and help them? I certainly would.
Everyday there are thousands of predators looking for children just like yours. These predators prey on undeveloped minds and insecurities, utilizing one of the greatest tools on Earth to achieve their task – the Internet.
Outside of cyberbullying, predators are likely the #2 threat online for children.
Unfortunately, where there’s children, there are predators. And the Internet only makes it easier for them to remain anonymous, or pose as someone else in order to lure them in.
Social networks are now one of a predator’s favorite places to stalk victims and if it wasn’t for Bark I would not allow my children to have accounts at any of these networks. It’s really that dangerous.
Remember. Nothing is going to stop predators from trying. They already don’t care about the law or the penalties. Children make easy targets and if you’re not monitoring who they interact with and educating them on Internet safety they’re at great risk.
There are many stats on sexting, but this one really jumps out – 40% of all teenagers (13 – 17) have posted or sent sexually suggestive messages.
That means that for every 2 teenagers you see, 1 of them is likely to be sexting.
They may feel like adults, in adult relationships, but they aren’t. Furthermore, if they’re engaging in sexting what they’re doing is actually illegal.
Sending explicit images of minors is a criminal act that can be punished with a prison sentence! At this time there are 8 states with sexting laws on the books, and 13 more considering enacting them.
Even worse than the criminal penalties are the potential repercussions from sexting. In a recent study over 13% of teens that were sexting attempted suicide.
This is a tough subject, but I have to cover it. Suicide is on the rise and the Internet is actually making the problem much worse.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of young people (15 – 24)
- In 2014 1,668 Children (8-18) committed suicide.
- 10 out of every 100,000 teens decide to kill themselves.
- Females attempt suicide 3x more often than males.
- The total number of suicides is rising each year.
These are just some of the statistics, however I believe the point has been underscored – suicide is a national epidemic. There is help out there for any child that feels that suicide is the answer and as a parent, I absolutely want to be able to spot the warning signs.
Warning Signs Of Suicide
- Excessive Sadness/Depression
- Withdrawal From Activities/Family
- Change in personality/appearance
- Recent Crisis
- Making Preparations (Giving items they care about away, saying goodbye to people they care about)
- Threatening Suicide
Some, all or none of these warning signs may be detected. This is truly the difficult part about preventing suicide, especially in teens and young adults. It’s often very difficult for a suicidal person to admit their feelings, or ask for help, so it takes a proactive stance and action to mitigate the risk of suicide.
From the data I’ve seen, Bark is a great tool for spotting the warning signs of depression. Bark can’t prevent depression or suicide, but as a full-time monitoring tool it will often detect warning signs that most parents can’t.
What Is Bark?
Bark is, in my opinion, the greatest child threat detection tool on Earth. I have to admit that while I’m a bit biased because I know the team at Bark very well, this is actually a good thing because I’ve been able to see how Bark works at a very deep level and trust the people behind it.
For nearly a year I’ve watched this team work on solving a very complex problem – child safety online. They aren’t in it for the money. They’re in it to help keep kids safe online and there just wasn’t a good solution out there.
As parents themselves, protecting children is an issue that’s very real to them. They work tirelessly behind the scenes to improve Bark, to make it better with each update, because the safety of your child and their children depends on it.
I really can’t stress this point enough. Real parents created Bark and they use it to help protect their own children.
What Does Bark Do?
The simplest way to explain what Bark does is to let them tell you themselves!
Brian (the CEO of Bark) did a great job in this video explaining what Bark does at a high-level, however I’ll expand on it a little bit.
Bark works as well as it does because the machine-learning algorithm has processed millions and millions of data points. Bark truly gets better each and every day because it learns, just like a child would.
But, wait “what’s a data point?”
Our brains process billions of data points every day. We see colors, hear sounds, taste flavors, smell odors, recognize shapes, and can even do fairly advanced geometry (catching a ball, for instance) all while monitoring our body and giving us real-time instructions. Most of us take this for granted because it’s a natural process.
It’s a bit like using the past to predict the future. The data points Bark uses are little bits of information, such as words in a text-message or specific colors in images & videos, things that have been proven to correlate with certain warning signs. It then matches these data points in “context” to gain a better understanding of what’s being done.
Bark doesn’t just rely on certain keywords, it’s looking for the context in which these keywords are being used as well. Thanks to millions of text-messages, emails & images, Bark has been able to develop a highly advanced algorithm that gets better at finding more subtle warning signs every day.
Here’s an example of some of the things Bark is on the lookout for…
- Swearing/Profanity: In the proper context this has proven to be a warning sign of cyber-bullying. Determining the proper context is the trick, and I believe Bark is getting closer every day to refining this. Ultimately, though, I want to know if my child is swearing, or their friend texting them is using profanity either way!
- Hate Speech: This goes on a lot more than people tend to think. Whether it’s meant to be a joke, or serious, Bark flags this type of talk. Common words negatively associated with sexuality and race are considered to be the warning signs of bullying.
- Self-Harm/Depression: Bark has a lot of ways to spot this type of behavior and keys in on this serious threat quickly. However, it’s not just words. It’s the context, or the tone and I believe Bark does a fantastic job at identifying the warning signs.
- Explicit Images & Video: It sounds like Science Fiction, but it’s real. When you have enough images as data points your algorithm can learn which types of images are more likely to be nude/semi-nude, and not. This goes the same for videos. Bark scans all of these and flags those deemed inappropriate.
I like to think of Bark as more of a watchdog than a spy tool. It wasn’t created to give you the details of every little secret in your child’s life, or let you spy on every text they send & receive. Instead its job is to monitor the language & content of each interaction, notifying parents when something objectionable is found.
It’s more of a “filter” than a camera and children (yes, even teens!) are more receptive to being tattled on for doing something wrong than they are being spied on. Bark does a great job of helping without crossing the line. Just like a watchdog would.
Social Networks That Work With Bark
Bark is awesome at monitoring your child’s phone. From text to iMessage to email they’ve got that handled. But what about social networks? They’ve got that covered as well!
When you connect your child’s social media account to Bark their software monitors these social media accounts just like it does your child’s phone.
Every text, image, and video that your child sends, receives or views is analyzed and logged. If any warning signs are detected, Bark will send you details and notify you to take action.
Here are some of the 20 social networks Bark works with.
In addition to these social networks, Bark also works with both iOS and Android devices, so this covers Internet browsing, email and text-messaging. Basically any form of digital communication is covered and all you have to do is the add the accounts. Here’s a full list of the networks that Bark works with.
What Parents & The Press Are Saying About Bark
The Press: Lately Bark is everywhere online. Below are just 2 of the shows they were featured on (ABC Arizona & CBS This Morning).
The Parents: As great as the news coverage is, sometimes you just want to hear from parents that have had actual experiences with the service. Below I’ve listed a few of the testimonials Bark has received.
“We would like to provide your company with a Testimonial about how your service very possibly saved the life of our son and one or more friends who were engaging in very risky behavior. Bark identified the risky behavior based upon photographs and videos they uploaded to Snapchat. We were able to intervene immediately, because we have absolute proof they could not deny. We were those parents who never would have or could have believed our star athlete student could possibly be involved in such behavior. Bark provided proof, which allowed us to admit him into a residential treatment program. Bark provides a very valuable service to parents and other parents need to know.” ~Bark Parent
“Bark actually notified us of serious suicidal thoughts and our son just completed a two week stint in the hospital where he received treatment and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Thanks to the app we were notified. We are very appreciative.” ~Michael
“Bark alerted us to a social media post my daughter sent that implied she was not where she had said she was, and that she and her friends had illegal drugs in our vehicle that she drives. With this information we were able to ask her about the activities that night and to talk to her about the risks of having illegal drugs in the car even if the drugs belonged to a friend. Although it was a difficult conversation and there are issues still to address, I’m grateful Bark alerted us to the messages so we could take action.” ~Trent S.
“The biggest thing that we want is to know when our daughter is exposed to inappropriate or threatening behavior on SnapChat and iMessage.” ~ Mike S.
“My favorite thing is peace of mind. Instead of worrying about my kids’ social media accounts, I know have any ally in raising my boys. Thanks for helping me protect them!” ~Christy L.
How Much Does Bark Cost? (Try It Free For 7 Days!)
Finally we get down to cost. Thankfully, it’s not going to hurt your wallet!
Bark is only $9/mo and if you sign up through any link on this website you’ll get 1 month for free to try it out. If you decide to keep using Bark, it’s $9/mo, or you can prepay an entire year for $99 – which saves about $20. Overall, that’s a very reasonable price to pay for full-time monitoring.
Keep in mind. You only need one Bark account for any children under the age of 18, the $9/mo covers everyone.
With Bark you get 730 hours of 24/7 coverage for $9, or a little over a penny per hour .
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