From the time my teenager and pre-teen were infants, I believed in allowing them the freedom to make choices for themselves, both good and bad. At the playground, if they wanted to climb on the outside of the equipment, I let them know they could fall, but I didn’t force them to stop. I didn’t want to be a parent yelling at them to “be careful” or “get down.” I made sure they were safe, but I also let them grow by taking risks and learning consequences.
As my kids have gotten older, their adventures have moved from the playground to the internet. My son has a YouTube gaming channel and my daughter has a YouTube channel about Slime. We think it’s important for them to be able to use the web and social media, since that’s part of the adult world they’ll be living in, but we try to stay on top of what they are viewing and doing, and there is a new app, Bark, that can help us do that.
Bark monitors my kids’ online activity and I wish I had had it a couple of years ago when my son first started his channel. In the beginning, he received comments from an adult that went too far. Not only were the comments creepy, but my son’s friends enjoyed giving him a hard time because he had a new admirer. We handled it, but with Bark, I may have been able to react sooner to the situation.
And since my son has an Android phone, Bark can monitor what videos he is searching, as well as comments he has made or received on social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Chats, and Google Drive, etc.). I know some parents might be thinking that monitoring comments goes a bit too far, but statistics say 1 in 3 kids receive cyberbullying threats and parents are often left in the dark about what is going on with their children’s online life. I want to be aware of the dangers and meet them head-on before they get out of hand.
Setting up Bark on my kids’ phones was simple, even for someone who is technologically clueless like me. The process only took a few minutes. Click here to sign up and receive 20% off by using the code “OGD.” (It expires July 31, 2018)
Speak to your children before installing Bark and explain to them how it works. As I said, my son has an Android phone, which allows Bark to monitor his Google searches. If I were to receive an alert stating he looked at something questionable, and I hadn’t warned him beforehand that I would be monitoring his activity, then he would (rightly) feel as though I was infringing upon his freedom. Also, we have had discussions before about what is appropriate phone and web behaviour, so letting him know about Bark gave us a reason to have a refresher course. My daughter will get her first phone soon and the Bark discussion will happen before we pass the phone over.
I want to give my kids the freedom to navigate the online world. And just like the playground days, I’m on the side-lines to make sure they are safe, help them up when they fall, and walk them through the consequences of their actions.
Disclaimer: I have partnered with Bark on this post and have been paid for my review. The words and story are my own.