If your children received new smart phones or other devices for the holidays, you may be worried about keeping them safe online. Experts with the parenting website Bark.US say kids can unintentionally access violence, pornography and other disturbing content on the internet, but there are ways parents can keep them safe from this content.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot there that they don’t even have to look for and it just populates," said Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer for a company called Bark, which offers a way for parents to monitor text messages, YouTube, emails and other social networks that their children use.
But most devices and apps do allow parents to set up certain controls to restrict what content kids can access. To set up parental controls, you can Google your specific device. Or you can use a free solution offered by Bark, called the Bark-o-matic.
"Tell the Bark-o-matic machine what your child can access — whether it’s a device, a gaming system, what have you — and then it will spit out the results," said Jordan.
Bark also offers technology to help parents monitor their kids' interactions online. For a monthly fee, Bark offers a service that monitors emails, texts and social media and will alert parents if it finds anything concerning.
"We’ll then give you recommended next steps that have been vetted by child health and wellness experts, so you know what to do, because we’re all doing this, for the first time in the history of parenting," said Jordan.