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Bark and Calix Partner To Combat Cyberbullying

Bark parental control app

The issue of cyberbullying has gained significant attention in recent years due to the widespread use of the internet and social media platforms in particular.

Cyberbullying is classically defined as the use of electronic communication to bully, harass, or intimidate another person. It can have severe consequences for the victim’s mental health and well-being — and is sometimes even fatal.

Fortunately, software tools are now available to help combat cyberbullying, and one of the most popular is Bark.

What Is Bark?

Bark is a software tool that uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to monitor and analyze the digital activity of children and teenagers. It is designed to help parents and guardians keep their children safe from online predators and cyberbullying. Once installed, the app can be used to manage and monitor their children’s Apple iOS and Google Android devices.

Bark monitors a wide range of digital platforms, including social media, text messaging, and email, and it can alert parents and guardians to potential issues before they become serious problems.

How Does Bark Work?

Bark uses advanced machine learning algorithms to analyze the content of digital messages and identify potential threats. The software can analyze text, images, and videos and recognize patterns that may indicate cyberbullying, threats of violence, or other dangerous behaviors.

When Bark detects a potential issue, it sends an alert to the child’s parent or guardian and a summary of the content that triggered the alert. The software can also provide guidance on how to handle the situation and suggest resources for further support.

Given the massive popularity of smartphones and tablets, the cold-turkey approach of banning children from using digital devices is generally unsuccessful. Resentment is often a consequence — not to mention that many children will use their ingenuity to get their hands on a digital device.

The genius of Bark’s approach is that it allows children to continue to use their digital devices — particularly smartphones. Parental monitoring of a smartphone encourages children to act responsibly, earn trust, and alert parents to potential cyberbullying-related problems before tragedy strikes.

Bark Features

Bark has many features designed to help parents and guardians monitor their children’s digital activity and protect them from online dangers. Some of the most notable features include:

  • Monitoring multiple digital platforms: Bark monitors a wide range of digital platforms, including social media, text messaging, and email. This aspect means that parents and guardians can keep an eye on their child’s activity across multiple platforms without having to log into each platform separately.
  • Customizable alerts: Parents and guardians can customize the types of alerts they receive from Bark based on their child’s age and the types of content they want to monitor. For example, they can set alerts for cyberbullying, sexting, or violent threats.
  • Intelligent analysis: Bark uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze the content of digital messages and identify potential issues. The software can recognize patterns and identify potentially dangerous situations before they escalate.
  • Support for multiple devices: Bark can be installed on numerous devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, making it easy to monitor a child’s digital activity across all their devices.
  • Easy to use: Bark is easy to set up and use, with a simple interface that allows parents and guardians to view their child’s digital activity and receive alerts.

Bark Benefits

Bark offers several benefits for parents and guardians concerned about their children’s online safety.

First and foremost, Bark facilitates the early detection of potential issues. Bark can identify potential issues before they become serious problems, allowing parents and guardians to intervene early and prevent harm.

Secondly, Bark provides a helpful degree of peace of mind to parents who wish to keep an eye on their children inside and outside the home. This comfort manifests itself in the knowledge that parents, caregivers, or guardians are taking steps to protect their children from online dangers.

infographic: why social media monitoring by parents and guardians is important

In addition, Bark’s solution provides customizable alerts that allow parents and guardians to personalize the types of alerts they receive, so they can focus on the specific types of content that concern them. This capability is crucial as individual children have different maturity levels, and it allows parents to personalize the kind of content that kids get access to. The consequence is the opportunity to build a more substantial degree of trust between parent and child.

Since children often have access to multiple connected devices, Bark can be installed on numerous products, so parents and guardians can monitor their child’s activity across all their devices. It’s also helpful that Bark is easy to set up and use, with a simple interface that allows parents and guardians to monitor their child’s digital activity and receive alerts. In other words, even technology-challenged parents can use Bark without a sharp learning curve.

Partnership With Calix

Last year, Calix announced a strategic partnership with Bark. Calix is one of the leading global providers of cloud and software platforms, systems, and services that broadband service providers (BSP) use to deliver a unified access network and the smart home of tomorrow.

infographic: Bark-Calix partnership

The Bark partnership is telling as it underscores Calix’s mutual concern about cyberbullying, as it is the typical form of harassment faced by teens and tweens. Calix has smartly added Bark to its growing system of premium system offerings in its Calix Revenue EDGE Suites that BSPs can offer to broadband subscribers.

Via this partnership, Calix and Bark allow even the smallest BSPs, who often don’t have the resources to implement capabilities like Bark by itself, to enlarge their value proposition to the communities they operate in. The result is that BSPs are empowered to help families protect children at home, school, and virtually anywhere in the world.

In a recent SmartTechCheck podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Bark’s Global CMO, Titania Jordan, and Megan Powell, Calix’s Director of Product Marketing, where we discussed the company’s partnership and commitment to tackle cyberbullying.

Closing Thoughts

Cyberbullying is a serious issue that can have significant consequences for children and teenagers. Fortunately, software tools like Bark are now available to help parents and guardians take on this problem proactively and robustly.

The rise of the smartphone and its popularity with children has created unprecedented challenges for parents. Bark reports that its solution has already covered 6.5 million children, detected a staggering 1.1 million severe self-harm situations, and 3 million severe bullying circumstances.

Calix has a long and impressive history with BSPs to ensure that children’s online presence is safer. In fact, Calix was one of the first companies to provide parental controls to BSPs in 2019 via its ExperienceIQ offering.

The Calix/Bark/BSP dynamic’s business implications also deserve mention. Calix’s DNA is characterized by its ability to allow BSPs to manage, deploy, market, and operate these types of premium services in a resource-friendly manner. The Bark element amplifies Calix’s value proposition with BSPs because it accelerates time-to-market with wholly integrated turnkey solutions.

Cyberbullying may be a 21st-century problem that may never go away entirely. Still, Bark and its partnership with Calix is a decisive step in the right direction that can help dramatically mitigate this problem.

Sadly, families are confronted with numerous digital dangers that threaten their children on a 24/7 basis. By combining forces, Calix and Bark have raised the bar — and expectation — on what responsible technology companies can and should do to protect our children’s lives.

Mark N. Vena

Mark N. Vena has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2022. As a technology industry veteran for over 25 years, Mark covers numerous tech topics, including PCs, smartphones, smart homes, connected health, security, PC and console gaming, and streaming entertainment solutions. Vena is the CEO and Principal Analyst at SmartTech Research, based in Silicon Valley. Email Mark.

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