Noting the high propensity of cyberbullying and other online threats for children, C Spire and Bark Technologies, Inc. are teaming together to provide free parental controls designed to protect the children and families of the carrier’s nearly 1 million mobile communications consumers in Mississippi.
Since its inception in 2015, Bark’s software has detected 262,000 severe self-harm situations and flagged more than 2.1 million severe bullying instances by monitoring social media platforms, apps, text messages, and emails, according to a press release. The company’s screen time management and web filtering tools are designed to help parents set defined limits around how and when children use their mobile devices. The company also works with local and national law enforcement to escalate cases of online predation and alert authorities of credible school shooting threats.
According to a case study Bark published in 2020, 88.5% of pre-teens and 94.1% of teenagers expressed or experienced violent subject matter online; 45.5% of pre-teens and 66.3% of teens engaged in conversations about depression; 76.7% of pre-teens and 82% of teens experienced online bullying either as a bully, victim or witness; 78% of pre-teens and 91.1% of teens engaged in conversations about drugs and alcohol and 70.9% of pre-teens and 87.9% of teens encountered nudity and sexual content online.
The carrier is offering customers a free tool, Bark Jr, which requires enrollment that helps families manage screen time, filter websites and get location check-ins.
C Spire customers can use the paid premium service ($10 a month for postpaid customers) that monitors more than 30 of the most popular apps for signs of issues like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, online predators and threats of violence.
“Parents and families are clamoring for a comprehensive solution to pornography, online predators, [and] cyberbullying,” said Hu Meena, C Spire president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “While there are many options for parental controls, C Spire chose Bark because it offers meaningful, real-time protection. When it comes to protecting our children from online threats, it’s imperative that their use of social media platforms is monitored and managed, and Bark is an essential tool for parenting in the digital age.”
C Spire isn’t the only company offering parental controls aimed at protecting children. Earthlink launched Earthlink Guardian, also designed to protect children from various threats on the Internet, a year ago.