A new service named Bark launched recently, and it is designed for parents who are concerned about internet safety of their children. Different from conventional net nanny-variety regulatory applications or other software designed for parental control, Bark strives to maintain a balance between respect for children’s rights for privacy and providing protection from cyberbullying and online predators.
The issue is that, currently, parents have to resort to installing spyware-variety applications that track everything their child does online, or they frequently have to get a hold of their children’s phones and look at their texts, use their kids’ passwords to sign into their accounts, and overall make an enormous physical effort to keep track of the communications and online activity of their kids.
This isn’t an ideal process for kids either, but Bark makes a difference.
How does Bark work?
To enroll in the service, parents have to go online to Bark’s website and sign up, add their children, then collaborate with the kids in connecting their social accounts. The accounts are accessed using OAuth, which means you give the software permission to view and read data from specific accounts. However, it doesn’t mean you authorize Bark to keep the social data in its own servers forever.
At its release, Bark supports the leading social apps and networks, including Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, GroupMe, YouTube, and Google+, along with email accounts on Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail. Additionally, in contrast to other parental control products, it also supports MMS and SMS messages on Android and iOS.
Once installed and configured, the service utilizes machine learning methods to search for cases of dangerous activity, such as sexting, cyberbullying, interaction with older strangers who may be grooming the child (like predators online will do) or even signs that there could be concerns regarding mental health like suicidal thoughts or depression.
The technology allows parents to be selective about the alerts they choose to receive and which method they’d like to receive them in, both text and email alerts are offered.
If Bark discovers something that may be questionable, an alert is sent to the parent that contains not only the pertinent conversation, but also where and when it happened as well as recommendations for dealing with the issue in an appropriate way.
Bark is created for children’s safety
Included on Bark’s board of advisors are child psychologists and leading researchers, along with law enforcement authorities who investigate internet cases that involve children. In combination with research conducted by the NIH as well as other sources, Bark tries to steer parents in the right direction for dealing with these concerns.
The system is intelligent also, with the ability to take the context of a conversation into consideration, not just specific keywords. For example, it can differentiate between someone teasingly saying “ugh, I hate you” (for instance, if a child just got a cool new game) and when someone genuinely means it.
What’s also great is Bark is reasonably priced at $9 per month, or $99 yearly, no matter how many children you have.