You’d do anything to keep your family safe. In the real world, an alarm system and a dog are smart choices to secure your home and alert you to anything concerning. And in the digital world, the same solutions are available on your smartphone.
It’s called Bark. The parental control app was founded in 2015 with a focus on providing parents with the tools they need to raise their children in today’s digital world. With Bark, you can monitor content, manage screen time, and filter the websites your kids visit.
A lot of Bark app reviews cover the ins and outs of the Bark software. But what they don’t tell you is that the parental control app provides a different kind of monitoring solution.
For one, the app lives in full view on their phone, so there’s no hiding the fact that you’re using Bark parental controls. What’s more, Bark doesn’t let you peel back the curtains and see exactly what’s going on whenever the mood strikes. Instead, Bark watches out for concerning behavior and alerts you if something needs your attention.
So, is Bark worth the money? In this Bark app review, we put the parental control app through the ringer to find out. Read on.
Table Of Contents
Bark App Compatibility
|# of devices||Unlimited|
|Location tracking||Yes (Check-ins only)|
|Social media tracking||Yes (Limited)|
Bark Subscription Options
Bark offers two subscription models — Bark Jr and Bark. As an entry-level product, Bark Jr is most suitable for younger children. Parents will benefit from screen time management, website filtering, and location check-in alerts. There’s a $5/month fee for Bark Jr or an annual price of $49.
Parents of teens might be more interested in the top-tier subscription model. At $14/month or $99/year, parents can monitor texts, email, YouTube, and dozens of other apps, get cyberbullying alerts, manage screen time, filter websites, and more.
Parental Monitoring and Helpful Advice Come Together
Bark takes a unique approach to monitoring your kids’ activities. Rather than letting you view whatever you want, whenever you want, Bark works in the background to keep tabs on what your kids are saying and doing, and then tells you if it notices something nefarious — like cyberbullying. Here’s a look at the top Bark parental app features:
- Content monitoring. Bark lets you connect a number of services your kid might use to your Bark account. By doing so, you can monitor all kinds of accounts, like their Gmail or iCloud account, or social media accounts like Snapchat and Instagram. It should be noted that while Bark monitors these accounts for controversial content and alerts you if its algorithms find something, you can’t actually go in and spy on their texts and videos on a whim.
- Screen time management. Kids spend their lives staring at their phones and tablets. With Bark, you can apply rules that limit when your kids can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.• Web Filtering. With Bark, it’s easy to block specific websites or entire categories of websites, like pornography, gambling, or online gaming.
- Check-in. Bark lets you send a request to your kid and ask them to check in. They’ll receive an alert on their phone right away, and once they tap it, you’ll know where they are. It’s like location tracking, but it requires interaction from both parties.
- Contextual alerts. If Bark’s algorithms sense that something’s wrong, you’ll be notified with details of what’s happening and instructions on how to take action.
Bark App Pros and Cons
We quite like Bark for a number of reasons. While other parental control apps deliver similar features (or, in some cases, offer more), Bark does a good job of blending great design, simplicity, and features to create a truly unique experience. Here’s why you’ll appreciate the Bark parental app:
- Easy to install on multiple devices
- Great user interface so you always know what’s up
- Comprehensive features in the top-tier subscription
Bark really delivers a clean, simple, easy-to-use parental control option. But for parents looking to monitor their kids without them knowing, Bark might not be the right fit. While Bark parental controls are valuable, there’s no stealth mode option. That means your kids will be fully aware that you’re using Bark to monitor their online activity. Here are some caveats you should be aware of:
- Bark social media monitoring is limited
- Your kids will know you’ve installed Bark parental controls
- The lower-tier subscription option just isn’t worth it
What Users Really Think of Bark
The Bark reviews are in — and they’re mixed. Parents seem to appreciate it. Kids seem to hate it. That’s expected given the fact that Bark software needs to be installed on the target’s device and there’s no way to keep it hidden.
On the Mac App Store, it has a rating of 2.2 (this rating might vary based on geography and what App Store you’re viewing). We believe the rating for Bark parental control software is particularly low because teens have flooded the review page with negative comments out of frustration that their parents have opted to use monitoring software. Still, you’ll find a mix of reviews, so read them and judge for yourself.
Bark vs. mSpy: Which Parental Control Stacks Up Better?
Bark has fast become one of the more popular parental control apps on the market. But how does it stack up to one of the other big market leaders, mSpy? Let’s find out:
Installing and setup
Bark is relatively easy to set up. The installation instructions are clear and really easy to follow. And there’s no rooting or jailbreaking of your kid’s device required to get started. mSpy does require a little more fiddling, but the feature set is more advanced, so that’s to be expected.
Monitoring social media
No contest here. While mSpy lets you review your kid’s social media activity including what photos they share, Bark doesn’t. The parental control app boasts about letting kids have their privacy too (which can be a good thing). But in doing so, they limit what parents really want to do. In a nutshell, Bark social media monitoring works in the background and only lets you review content if it finds something.
Reading text messages
Again, it’s not even a coinflip. mSpy lets you see the text messages they share. Unfortunately, Bark only alerts you if something controversial in a text message comes up that needs your attention.
Viewing photos and videos
While Bark doesn’t let you view all the photos and videos on their phone, it uses advanced technology and algorithms to alert you of any inappropriate pics that need your attention, along with the text that might have accompanied the pic. We like this feature a lot, but mSpy has the edge by letting you view the media stored on the device and shared with others.
Winner: mSpy (but Bark comes close)
Does Bark Give You The Right Kind of Parental Control?
If you’ve made it this far in our Bark control app review, you know that we like Bark.us a lot. It’s easy to use and effective for what it is. But there are some limitations. Parents who really want to know what their kids are doing will find Bark to be a bit limited. With Bark, you’re forced to rely on the app’s algorithms to alert you. You can’t simply go in and view their activity if your gut tells you that something’s not quite right.
For parents who demand more control, there are better apps out there, like mSpy. But if you’re looking for a well-rounded solution and you trust your kids enough to make sound decisions, Bark could be the right solution for you.