EP22 BARK: Parental Controls and Digital Monitoring

Our children’s safety is our highest priority. From a young age, we are immersed in every aspect of their lives; however, as they grow older, there is a piece that we have been shut off from, and that is the digital world of our children. 


Everything is so easily accessible through our devices, and children are getting devices at such a young age. All that access can be great learning and social tools, but they can also be extremely dangerous to young people who don’t quite understand how they can experience danger virtually. 


As parents, it is our job to be involved in their digital life, but how do you do that when most of the parents parenting children these days haven’t experienced growing up with all this access to peers and the rest of the world? 


Well, that's where Bark comes along! Bark is an online monitoring, blocking, and filtering system parents can use to keep an eye on their children’s social media presence and their lives online to help protect them from possible dangers. This tool has been proven to be extremely successful in being able to keep tabs on children’s online activity while still maintaining trust and autonomy with your child. 


Who better to come and speak to us about this than Titania Jordan, the chief marketing officer and chief parenting officer at Bark Technologies? However, her most important title is Mom! Titania has been featured on every major news network, as well as a contributor to so many different publications, and is a renowned contributor in the digital parenting space. 


Titania is extremely knowledgeable on the ins and outs of dozens of social media platforms and how they can affect your child. Whether it be cyberbullying or screen time, online predators, or even sexting, Bark has the ability to mitigate the risks of all of these.


Tune in to hear how Bark can help you and your children have a healthy and safe online experience.


Topics discussed in this episode:


  • What it means to be a contributor to the digital parenting space
  • How bark helps parents rationalize what is happening with their children
  • What kind of things Bark does to help monitor, block, and filter
  • The difficulties children face online
  • How does bark function in a dual household
  • Bark’s new phone
  • Truth bombs about social media platforms
  • What is Be Real?
  • How to find balance in 
  • Products for schools to help protect students
  • What has been uncovered by using bark


To learn more about what Bark has to offer, head to their website. Also, to learn more about Titania, you can check out her about page here!


Head to the Parenting in a Tech World Facebook page to connect with other parents navigating the world of tech! In order to get on the waiting list for the new Bark phone, submit your email address by following this link.


Check out our podcast selection for valuable info on health, wellness, and more.

Continue the conversation in the Hero Moms Social Group on Facebook! 


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About Checkable

Checkable is revolutionizing healthcare with fast and accurate at-home test kits, telehealth services, and a line of wellness supplements designed to keep you feeling your best while saving valuable time and money.


At the forefront of home healthcare, Checkable is developing the first FDA-approved at-home strep test. Paired with a proprietary digital telemedicine platform to instantly connect consumers with healthcare professionals, you can skip the doctor's office and start treatment fast, right from the comforts of your home.





0:00:00.0 S1: This is the Checkable Health Podcast, and we are on episode number 22 how to protect your kids online without being a helicopter parent. My guest is Titania Jordan, who is the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Parenting Officer at Bark Technologies. Whether you're concerned about cyber bullying or screen time, online predators or even sexting, all of this will impact your child digitally, and bar technologies was created by a parent for parents to empower them to oversee our children's behavior online. This is a Checkable Health Podcast, and we're powered by Checkable Medical wellness and health information is what we provide mom to empower her to be the chief medical officer for her and her family. I'm Patty post, I'm founder and CEO of Checkable Medical, and I'm a wife and mother for nearly 19 years. The question here today is, how can we be better parents by engaging in our child's digital presence, and how can we help them understand what those things are in the cyber world to be aware of, and we have the opportunity to give them boundaries by becoming aware of what those things are that are predatory, and yet we wanna give them freedom because we don't want to be that helicopter parent, parenting isn't an exact science, but understanding what is happening digitally will help us develop the best way to parent in a digital world, so with that...


0:01:42.2 S1: Let's get into it with Titania Jordan, Chief Marketing and Parenting Officer of Bark Technologies.


0:01:50.9 S2: Welcome to the Wellness Essentials Podcast, where we invite you to join the conversation and get inspired to be in the driver seat of your health and well-being.


0:02:05.3 S1: On this podcast, you'll get an all-access pass inside the minds of MDs, experts and thought leaders in the industry, no topic is off-limits, and we're asking the questions to get you the answers across the gamut of topics when it comes to optimizing your health. This is the WE Podcast. Alright, Titania Jordan, who is Chief Parenting Officer of Bark Technologies is my guest today. Thank you so much for joining me.


0:02:36.8 S2: Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be here.


0:02:39.9 S1: Absolutely, so you have so much experience. As I said, when we first jumped on, like I know you are a pro, you are on... Titania has been featured on every major news network, as well as a contributor to so many different publications, and really you are a renowned contributor in the Digital Parenting space. So to start out, can you share with us what that means and how you contribute and what your thought leadership is? Absolutely.


0:03:12.5 S2: So first of all, the mom of a 13 and a half-year old, I'm also somebody who grew up in the 80s before we had all these wonderful gadgets and connectivity, and then quickly I had to utilize it for both my professional and personal life, and we're the last generation, we being me and my peers and colleagues were the last generation of humans that have had that in real life shift and then to virtual for everything. So it's a unique perspective. Just personally, professionally, I've spent my career at the intersection of parenting in tech as well as media, so my original first job ever was at the local radio station here in Atlanta, and while I was working at trustee radio, social media became a thing, and digital became a thing, and Pandora was launching. And we were like, Oh, oh.


0:04:07.8 S1: What's gonna happen to radio? We have jobs.


0:04:13.6 S2: So yeah, fast forward to today, where childhood today looks like no other time in history, our children are more connected than ever, they are encountering problematic issues and people at a more frequent rate at a younger age. And they ever have in the past. Their parents, their pantries, their teachers, even their medical professionals, can't relate personally, 'cause they did not grow up like this, nor are there adequate studies that have even been done to really help us navigate what exactly should we do here, how much screen time is too much, what is the right age for a child to have social media... We are just charging a lot of unknowns, and I'm spending my professional life in the space now, I'm the CMO of Bark Technologies, we help protect close to 6 million children across the nation, we are monitoring over social media platforms, text messages, emails and alerting parents and caregivers to sign of digital dangers, whether that's problematic people like online predators or bullies, or content on mental health issues, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation... It's all there. And that's what I'm dealing with every day.


0:05:30.7 S1: Those things that you just covered right there, as I'm a mom of three as well, and my two boys are 18 and 16, but my daughter is soon to be 12, and I'm guilty of sometimes just putting my head in the sand of like, Oh well, not my... Child, my child will be fine, and they're not watching any of these things that they shouldn't... And that's rationalizing. If that's being naive, I don't know what that is. But when I first discovered Bark, it felt like Bark was the solution to rationalizing of like, Okay, let's really understand what's happening with our kids, and would you share with us more of how Bark does that for parents?


0:06:19.0 S2: Absolutely, so much like you. There's a lot of things that I don't know enough about, and I should... Right now, my son has not started back to school, he's playing a video game on his PS-4, I don't know what it's rated, he's probably encountering some things that I wish he hadn't flipside of that, I've had enough conversations with him that he knows our position on a variety of issues. He knows he can come to me, I'm a safe place, I'm not gonna take it away from him, but we'll talk about it, and we have Bark on his devices and accounts, so that when something really serious takes place, I'll get an alert more on that. How does Bark work? So if your child has an iPhone, if your child has an Android, if your child has a tablet, if you are just struggling with how much time your child is spending connected to devices and accounts, if you want to let them be connected, but you don't want them to come across, let's say, X-rated content Bark can help with all of those things, it is nuanced because every family has a different tech stack and even a different internet service provider, and so the best way for a parent, if they're interested to get started, is you just go to, so that's not, but go to, that's our website.


0:07:36.0 S2: You can go to it from your computer, from your phone, from whatever you set up for a free seven-day trial, so you don't have to pay anything up front, and we'll ask you a series of questions about, how many kids do you have and what are their ages, what do they have, what sort of tech do they have, which sort of accounts do they have? And what do you want us to help you with? If we can help you with it. We will...


0:07:59.5 S1: And what types of things can you help with, let's say for it... Let's use my daughter as an example. And so you said She's 12, so she’s soon to be 12, she already has a smartphone... She does, she has a Apple iPhone.


0:08:14.6 S2: Okay, so we can help monitor her text messages, we can help you manage her screen time, let's say you don't want her to be connected from 10 pm at night to 6 AM in the morning, or I can help you with that if you want to filter websites and apps that she can download and utilize, we can help with that if you want help monitoring her Instagram or a variety of other platforms, discord, Twitch, whatever kik. All of the things we can help with that, and it's not just the monitoring. Let's say she's being bullied on Instagram, let's say you just wanted to take a break from Instagram, well Bark can block Instagram for a certain period of time as well, so it's very customizable, and in the instances where Bark doesn't have a capability, if what... Say, Apple screen time does have the capability, we will walk you through how to do that as well, but yes, our kids are very savvy, and so not only will help with monitoring and blocking and filtering, but let's say you don't want her to have Snapchat, but you also don't have it set up to where you have to approve every...


0:09:33.7 S2: App she downloads, there's nothing stopping or from downloading it, then so far will alert you, Hey, your daughter has just downloaded Snapchat, you should probably talk to her about x, y, z dangers and or if you even want her to be on it. So a lot of different use cases.


0:09:50.2 S1: Yeah, and they are savvy, they can create different user names, and so you can follow their account, but then they have other accounts that they're private or they're sharing with their friends and you have no idea. That's what I've encountered. I'm like, Wait. When did you create this? I'm not even following this, and the only reason that I found it is because she had logged into it on my phone and 'cause we still don't have service for her, we use... Have her use Wi-fi, but I don't know if she was trying to be sneaky. I know that she loses the password a lot to things, so that was a red flag to me, and that's actually how I stumbled upon Bark because I was also talking with another colleague of mine where she was saying that her daughter, who's about a year and a half older than Lily. She said she has FOMO, and sometimes she... Or else, she feels like there are a lot of postings going on and then she'll notice that her daughter feels sad in the afternoon, she's like, Why are you feeling sad? And then she'll realize that there's a group of girls that are hanging out and they're sharing everything that they're doing, and she's left out, and even I thought that was really in tune of her to be aware of that, and it's like...


0:11:14.0 S1: I love how you said about in the 80s, we didn't have to... Was like, Who's playing across the street, okay, let's go over there and... Or else you didn't even know if someone was doing something unless you saw the birthday invitation being exchanged in the classroom and you didn't get it, now there's just so much more to be aware of and it's very overwhelming.


0:11:35.7 S2: It's incredibly overwhelming, the rate at which children are experiencing self-confidence use the comparison trap, how many likes, how many follows just their appearance online that most people are airbrushing or filtering at this point, during some the most awkward stages of their entire life, acne and weight fluctuations and... Gosh, it's so difficult, and to have everything in their face to be so pronounced when you are not included in something... It's so hard, it's so hard. And so, we as their parents can't understand, we can empathize and we can love them, but we should make it clear to them that, we didn’t grow up like this, we can't begin to understand what it's like to be a kid today... Right. What? We love you and we're here for you. And you have to know there is hope. It will get better. It will get better.


0:12:29.3 S1: Yes, yes. Oh my gosh. You definitely will get better. You will get better in 13-14. No one wants to go back to that age timeframe for a reason, right? Alright, so Bark resides on their device and then it resides on our device as well, so the parent is essentially the administrator, and then you choose to have it on how many devices you want in your family, but mom and dad both can be receiving alerts... Yeah.


0:13:04.4 S2: That's right. Even if mom and dad are not in the same household, there's a way to do it so that dual households can both receive Bark alerts. Two other things I didn't mention 'cause I just didn't wanna overwhelm with the and, and, and, but another thing Bark can do is location alerts, so if you wanna make sure your child go to school... Okay, I got to practice. Okay, I got your friend's house. Okay, or can do location alerts, and also we're launching a phone because Apple phones, because Android phones are currently out there, aren't best suited for children's first phone experience, we decided we would make one and so... Yeah, commonly. Yeah, coming towards the end of this year, right in time for holiday season, Bark will have a phone so that you can be sure to get your child those safer smartphone that exists when it is that time.


0:13:55.8 S1: Okay, so is there like a pre-order coterie, I'll drop a link to you that I will be on that pre-order because as I said, she has an old device, we have just Wi-Fi, but I know that my boys got funds when they were 13 and 13-15. And of course, they are just up petre about, why does she have a phone... We didn't have a phone I like... Because she's younger than you, and every kid has a phone in fifth grade now, and we just led... First started using it about four months ago, which was after a lot of... I don't know if it was badgering, it definitely was badgering, but it was us being like, Okay, that's how these kids stay connected to... With covid, I think that a lot of them, that's just how they communicate now and stay connected.


0:14:50.3 S2: It really is, and I just dropped a link in our chat right there, that's the wait list, sign up, feel free to share it, use it, but such... It is such a dilemma every year that goes by, more and more children are getting devices at a younger age... I remember when my son was in fifth grade, I volunteered to coach Run Club, which is a joke because I don't run unless someone's chasing me. Not that great at it. Anyway, I was in charge of the third grade girls Run Club, and they were already on Snapchat. The third grade girls were on Snapchat.


0:15:30.3 S1: No, absolutely not. Right, and that's what scares me because it goes away, those messages go away.


0:15:37.8 S2: The messages go away. Not only that, but there is SNAP maps inside the app that can show you real-time location to anybody you're connected with, but I don't want anybody to know where my third grader is, right. There is a vault feature where even if you do open their app as their parent or career, there's a password-protected place where they can hide photos and... Why does a kid need to hide photos? Only a few reasons. The feed is very, very quick, maybe very sensational, and then the partnerships that Snapchat has made with content providers like HBO Max, you don't want your kid watching everything HBO Max offers, right. Well, good luck getting around that, all they have to do is lie about their age and then they can access it, so... Yes, it's a lot.


0:16:28.8 S1: That is a lot it... I didn't know a number of those things, how about some other truth bombs about other social media platforms that... can shock us. 


0:16:41.5 S2: Discord is a very popular platform that children are using, and it's purported to be a place for children who are in the gaming to connect with their gamers, and chat about games, and live stream, and have community, which is great. Gaming can be really cool and fun, and even you can earn scholarships to college now for gaming, so that's great, but what Discord itself isn't going to necessarily surface to you right away, parents, is that there's a lot of predators on there, a lot of bullying, there's live live video and live chat, or you can talk to strangers, it's a self-police platform, as of my most recent research, where you create the server, you're setting the rating for it, well, maybe you're not accurate with your rating, and so it's just... Again, it's the internet. If your child is accessing anything on the internet app, URL, website, anything, and you haven't taken the time to experience it yourself, who's a parent, then you're doing your child a disservice, you've gotta spend time where your children are spending time to get to know what's out there. 


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0:18:27.6 S1: I just heard my kids talk about BeReal in the last month. And I'm curious if Bark does monitor BeReal, and can you share with the audience what BeReal is to be done? Research on that platform.


0:18:45.7 S2: Oh yes, yeah. So the BReal app is where you share a picture with a friend at a time randomly selected by the app, and that it's really cool in a lot of ways because it's trying to foster the unfiltered life... Right, the name says it all. They want you to be ruled each other, which is so cool, what's not so cool if you're a parent or worried about your child is that you can choose to share your picture publicly, which you might not want your child's photo to be publicly available. There's also just the fact that your child could add a friend that they don't know in real life, similar to other social networks, will people send inappropriate photos on barely, and then another thing that is concerning to me is just the location... Geolocation is on by default. And so if you post your BeReal to the public discover feed, then strangers could know where you took that bathing suit shot or where you scored that soccer goal, so does BeReal have risks like any other app? Yes. Would it be something I would rush to take off my child's phone... No, but you do need to have these conversations about being more private and not sharing something on there that you wouldn't want publicly plastered across a billboard on a highway that your grandmother drives by...


0:20:07.7 S1: Yes. Well, that is a good... I like to use that with... Would you be talking like that if grandma was sitting here... Exactly, that's exactly right. The pictures to... Exactly.


0:20:20.4 S2: You don't want to paint the picture that the world is just a terrible, terrible place, both in the life and virtual, she had to have a balance of this... not everybody on the internet is a predator. No, are there way more than we think... Yeah, if you don't believe me, let's Google a few stories and just show you how pervasive this is, but here's how you protect yourself, you don't ever, ever, ever, ever... If you do become friends with somebody online, you don't know in real life, please don't tell them your real name, or your age, or where you live, or where you go to school, or where do you play sports, or any PII, which stands for personally identifiable information, because predators are really good at making you feel good, at working to build a relationship with you, that's their goal. And so you might not realize that it is a bad person or a tricky person for younger kids until it's too late, until they have tricked you, so they trick you to sharing information with them that you wish you haven't... Until they have tricked you into maybe sending a photo or a video that you felt pressure to...


0:21:30.5 S2: That you wish you hadn't, but no matter what happens, no matter if you do make a mistake, you can't be afraid to come to a mom, tell Dad, tell babysitter, because we can help you. There's a rise in the rate of sextortion in children. These predators are forcing children, pressuring children to send things that they otherwise wouldn't because of veiled threats or even the obvious threats that they're gonna come hurt them, but they know where they live, they're gonna hurt... Hurt their parents, they're gonna hit their pets, and so it's really sanity scary, we need to help or more children to know that it's happening to smart kids just like them and... Let's make sure it doesn't happen to them. Yes.


0:22:10.8 S1: Yeah, it's being prepared and protecting them, caring about them when you come from that way, rather than like, Oh, I'm a helicopter mom that's trying to watch her every move... No, I trust you, it's those that are out in the world that I don't have the trust for because I don't know them. Right. So a big opportunity for Bark in the utilization of technology is within the schools, I find that particularly interesting of how you have integrated into the schools, and I know that that's a tricky market as well, but... Yeah, I think from a parent standpoint, to know that you can work with the schools and learn what that... That even if you are on a PTO and you don't have Bark on your child's iPad, perhaps recommend it to the school to look into, so would you mind sharing with us what that product is?


0:23:10.4 S2: Yeah, absolutely. So at Bark, we offer digital protection for children and families, and the Spring of 2018, when the tragedy at Parkland happened, we realized that the tech that families were using to protect their children at home and on the go, 'cause also really be used at school for school issued devices and accounts and just might help to flag and... For the next school shooting. So we launched Bark for schools for free to any school in the nation, so if your child's school does not use Bark for schools, let them know, Hey, this is free, and it can help to monitor the devices and accounts that you let our kids use at your school. And alert to the issues that are happening on school grounds and on school devices that they take home.


0:24:06.0 S1: Yeah, so how much can you share with the stats to what has been uncovered and other than shootings, but it's also suicidal.


0:24:15.9 S2: Absolutely, yeah. We do an annual report every year, in fact, let me drop a link here in our chat, it's hard to process this information, but it's also very important, we wanted to not just be out there telling people your kids are in danger without some data to back it, up, we'll how much danger are they in... Well, in 2021, we analyzed more than 34 billion messages across text, email and over 30 acts and social media platforms, and here's what we found. In 2021, we saw a 25% increase in alerts for self-harm and suicidal ideation among kids 12-18 as compared to just 2020, and it's really hard to hear, but if you don't already know that suicide is the second leading cause of death and children... You absolutely must know that. You need to not be afraid to talk to your children about this issue, don't be afraid to use the word suicide, using the word suicide isn't going to make your child more likely to entertain the thought of it. In fact, it helps to reduce the stigma around the scariest of the issue, sexual content is another thing that Bark flags for close to 70% of tweens and 90% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature online.


0:25:34.6 S2: One middle school principal told me not too long ago that sexting was the new first base for children, which was very jarring to her, but again, something I realized, Okay, I need to talk to my fifth grader about this before he sends something or receive something that makes him in possession of child sexual abuse, material anxiety, it's no secret that children are very anxious, they're dealing with depression, they are seeing images and video and conversations surrounding drugs and alcohol and violent content, 72% of teens, 85% of teens experienced bullying as a bully or victim or witness disordered eating is also an issue that can be exacerbated by what's in their feed, what the algorithm is serving to them, close to 10% of tweens and 21% of teens encountered predatory behavior from someone online, and it only takes eight minutes for a predator, to form a bond with a child without ever having meeting that child in real life. And last year, there was a 97.5% increase in online enticement reports, according to NCMEC, that's the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. So there's a lot more in the annual report...


0:26:55.6 S2: I'll pause there because I just threw a lot at you.


0:27:00.1 S1: Yeah, that gives me a little bit of a... Actually a big pit in my stomach thinking about all of these things that this is just exactly why we can't be rationalizing that my child is safe. No, this is okay, because it's in a community as well, it might not even be your child, but it could be your next door neighbor... Exactly, or someone in your child's classroom, and the more that we are aware is how we can take action if something does happen, 100%, and a lot of this is parental empowerment, sometimes we need permission to... Okay, I'm going to pursue this. So by listening to this, we give you permission, parents to install Bark, talk to them about bullying, about suicide, about sexting, about predatory behavior, and there are also some really great resources that you have, that you have created as Chief Marketing Officer for Bark. Can you tell us about one, the book as well as the Facebook group that anyone can join?


0:28:05.9 S2: Absolutely, yeah, thank you so much for asking. Gosh, we have so many resources. I'll start with just the free one parenting in a tech world, if you're on Facebook, and I know not everybody is, but if you're on Facebook there is a Facebook group called parenting a tech world, it has close to 220,000 parents in it now, and so dropping a link to that for you here. There's also a book that I co-authored with my colleague, Matt McKee, called Parenting in a Tech World. And so you can find that wherever books are sold, Amazon is usually a great place to get that. There's also a documentary that I highly recommend everybody see, it's free. It's about 90 minutes, and it's called Childhood 2.0. I'm dropping a link to that here now, but it goes into just how childhood is so much different than when we grew up in every other child before us. What do you need to know? If your children are old enough, and I'd say age 11, 12, 13 is old enough, but please watch it first, watch it with your children, and it can help you have those conversations about what they have already encountered, what their friends are encountering and help you to frame how are we going to deal with it as a family? When these things come up.


0:29:25.5 S1: Great advice, super actionable too. I will post all those links and we're actually gonna do a give-away of your book, so... Thank you. Right. And all of these resources are... It's not easy to wrap our arms around it, and we don't want to think that our kids are exposed to this, but it's really important to come alongside and support our children and know that we're there for them, and this is really a great use of time to Titania, I really appreciate it. And all that you're doing for our society, I would say that I can tell your passion and you are making a difference and to your founder that founded this company and everyone that's a part of Bark, from one parent, and I will speak for my husband to... We greatly appreciate all that you are doing for our youth and for us, parents.


0:30:19.1 S2: Well, thank you for having me. Yeah, I'm eternally grateful to Brian Bason, dad of two,... For having the idea of Bark and taking the leap of faith to leave Twitter to start Bark, I'm so thankful to Our... We now have a team of over 100 people, and we're all working day in and day out to help keep your children safer online and in real life, so it's gonna take some time, but... Day by day, right?


0:30:47.8 S1: You're making a difference, I appreciate it. Thank you for being our guest, Titania. And I hope all of you that are listening, please use these resources and Let's become aware of what our kids are engaging in online and keep them safe and keep encouraging them that they are very good at really who they are right now, living in the society that we have. Amen. Thank you. Thank you

0:31:24.7 S2: Too. Thank you so much for tuning in to today's episode. We hope you got a lot out of it. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you can stay up to-date with our latest episodes. Also, you can find us on social media by searching Checkable Health. We look forward to seeing you again soon.