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Bark

    • Supporting platforms – iOS and Android devices, Chromebooks, Chrome extension, and on Amazon devices
    • Activity Record – Work across text messaging, YouTube, email, and over 24 social networks
    • Notifications – Users can adjust the sensitivity and type of alerts. Mobile and email alerts are available.
    • Blocking and Filtering – Uses proprietary machine-learning algorithms to spot worrisome interactions.
    • Ease of use – Easy to install and set up
    • Extra services – Machine-learning-based system to alert you to potential problems
4.0 rating based on 1 rating

By parentalguru


Bark Review

Introduction

For the uninitiated, an app called Bark might make you think it’s got something to do with keeping tabs on your pet.  That’s not quite true – in fact, it’s meant to keep tabs on something at least as valuable, if not more so – the safety and well-being of your children.  Bark is a monitoring, filtering, and blocking app and computer program, designed to work across text messaging, YouTube, email, and over 2 dozen social networks.  It provides parents with tools to help control what their kids do and who they interact with online, and to raise red flags to keep them safe.

Bark boasts some impressive statistics on their website (www.bark.us), including 16 school shootings prevented and over 20,000 serious self-harm incidents prevented.  With simple, flat-fee pricing of $9/month or $99/year for an unlimited number of devices or children, it’s a fairly affordable option with wide scope and a range of impressive features to help keep your kids safe in the modern digital world.  We explore the Bark app further in our detailed Bark review below.

How to Set Up Bark

The Bark app is fairly easy to install and set up on both iPhone and Android devices.  For Android, no PC or other devices is required to configure the app.  For iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices, a PC or Mac is required, as the device will need to be connected through the computer for the initial setup.  With that said, the actual process of going ahead with the installation and setup is as follows:

  1. Sign up for an account on the Bark website, or a free trial, and download the appropriate Bark parent app for your device, as well as the kids’ app for their devices (if offered – each class of devices such as Android, iOS, Chrome, or Amazon may have their own setup procedures, especially for iOS).
  2. Choose the services, apps, and accounts on your child’s device and connect them to the Bark app interface. This includes email and dozens of social network and other common Internet-enabled apps, including all the top titles.
  3. Based on the settings and apps you’ve selected, you’ll get an email or text alert notification when the Bark app encounters something concerning.  It doesn’t provide full access to all the logs and records on your child’s phone or other devices.  Rather, it acts like a guard dog (hence the name and logo) to alert you to potential problems, based on proprietary machine-learning algorithms.

Bark filtering, Blocking, Communication monitoring

Bark doesn’t work in quite the same way as many of the other parental control applications on the market.  Rather than using a series of filtering or blocking technologies, the app as a whole monitors all activity your child engages in on monitored devices, across e-mail, text messages, and social media or Internet-enabled apps.  It uses proprietary machine-learning algorithms to spot worrisome interactions – predators targeting your child, suicidal ideation, adult content, and more – and provides alerts to parents about the activity.  This is a more holistic approach to parental control and monitoring than the kind of restrictive, filtering-based approach common with many other similar apps available today.

Bark Pros and Cons

The unique approach that Bark takes to monitoring children’s activity online comes with some distinct pros and cons.  That’s especially true as compared to other, more traditional parental control programs (or the native parental control settings available on most modern devices and apps).  In brief:

Pros:

 

  • Comprehensive monitoring of almost all online activity on smartphones and tablets, across e-mail, texts, and most apps.
  • Machine-learning-based system that means you don’t directly invade your child’s privacy, or have to spend hours reviewing their activity – the Bark app acts as a sentry for you, alerting you to trouble.
  • Affordable app that works on a number of systems and platforms.
  • Reasonable subscription plan that doesn’t cost more for more children or devices.

Cons:

  • No direct filtering or parental control limitations as with similar programs.
  • Not as easy to setup and manage on iOS devices as Android-based devices.
  • While affordable, it can still be a considerable investment for some families.

Mobile Compatibility

Bark is available for both android and iOS users, Bark even works when you have an iphone and your child has an android device or the other way around. If you want to manage your account you can use either the android app or the website.

Bark works on iOS devices and Android devices, as well as on Chromebooks, Chrome-based browsers via an extension, and on Amazon devices.  In all cases except iOS, this is accomplished through a parent app to manage accounts, and a child app on each relevant device.  In the case of iOS, because of the way security works, a separate approach is used.

The parent app is available for iOS devices just as it is for other platforms.  However, for the monitoring, a Windows or Mac PC is required.

The Bark desktop app on that PC will utilize backups of the device and send them to the Bark system for analysis once the device is setup and registered.  On all the different operating systems, almost all of the same apps and systems are monitored, with some slight variation – see the full comparison table on Bark’s website – just the execution of the setup and monitoring is handled differently because of the differences in the system architectures.

Pricing

Bark offers a single package for an unlimited number of devices, children, and monitored apps, with no upper limit on the total activity tracked, data throughput, or similar constraints.  This is available as a monthly subscription for $9, or an annual subscription that costs a bit less, at $99 per year.  There’s a 7-day free trial for new accounts, and you can certainly sign up for a month-to-month subscription at the start.  Then, if you like the service, you can commit to a longer-term annual plan, because that saves you the most money.

Conclusion

The bottom line in our Bark review is that they offer a unique monitoring product to help keep kids safe, with a track record of results.  It’s affordable and works on most modern operating systems.  While there are a few drawbacks, and it’s definitely not a standard parental control suite, it might be just what you’re looking for to keep tabs on your kids and keep them safe, without that task turning into a second job, or too directly invading your child’s privacy.  With a 7-day free trial, you have nothing to lose in trying Bark, and safety and peace-of-mind to gain.

 

Watch this Bark parental control software review to learn more about how to set up Bark App

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Bark