Cellphones and laptops are becoming more and more of a commonality among younger people; and with the popularity of such devices, there comes an immense amount of potential danger attached to them. Some parents may not comprehend the risks before giving their children the privilege of having a cellphone and/or a laptop, but there is a dangerous dark side to a smartphone/laptop while in the hands of a young person.
To try and combat the dangers of cellphone/internet usage by children and teenagers, Bark was created to monitor text conversations of minors. The app works by having parents create an account through the website bark.us, and by starting off with a 30-day free trial, the app is granted access to all of your child’s text messages, email, and even social media accounts. The app monitors your child 24/7 and will send alerts to you if issues are detected by the app’s “watchdog engine” while also supplying “recommended actions and ways to talk about issues as a family”.
Parents Can Use App Monitoring Software Bark To Combat Dangers Of Internet Use
Bark’s “watchdog engine” is engineered through “data science and machine learning” to flag interactions such as cyber bulling, sexting, and signs of depression including suicidal thoughts. It is marketed as a solution and time saver of going through and reading your minor’s digital activity. The “challenge” that Bark tries to solve is the time consuming activity of helicopter parenting your child and their online interactions with others, a tagline being “it’s a huge pain for you, and your child doesn’t like it”. Another cited challenge of monitoring your minor’s digital use is that it “does not build trust or an open dialog with your child”.
So how does having an app watching every interaction made by a child through a digital device build trust or an open dialog? When an app sends a parent an alert text message/email with a solution to the situation, is this the definition of “Open dialogue with your child” or “Forced confrontation over what was thought to be a private conversation”? Even if parents set up an account together with their child (as how the Bark creators recommend) to let your children know they are being monitored, are parents really doing their best to be engaged parents?
Is App Monitoring Like Bark A Solution For Parents?
By downloading and using this app service, are parents abdicating their parental responsibilities to an app and hoping for the best while also perhaps giving their children trust concerns? While this app may be helpful and worth considering, an open dialogue might be difficult after an app alerts a parent to a possible “issue”.
In my opinion, just as children have the privilege to technology, parents also have the privilege of their child’s trust, and this doesn’t come with an “open dialogue” emailed to parents by an app. It comes to parents when a child feels they can ask their parents about anything and everything without feeling judged. Food for thought…
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Ariel is doing a summer internship with Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. She is a student at Wright State University studying Mass Communications. After a 2-year stint as Director of Marketing for Wright State's University Activities Board, she found a love for marketing and graphic design. She enjoys painting, dancing, and participating in apartment renditions of popular musicals in her free time. The graphic above was also designed by Ariel!