Digital Parenting: The apps you can use to protect your child

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NEW YORK — When Ami Kantawala’s son started middle school, she knew it was time to pay closer attention to his on-line activities.

“How worrisome is it as a parent?”

“It’s scary. It’s scary they have so much access.”

She downloaded a monitoring app called Bark to analyze his email and social media. It alerts her about issues including bullying, depression and drugs.

Titania Jordan is Bark’s chief parent officer. She said the internet needs precautions just like the real world.

“You don’t send your child to the beach without sunscreen. You don’t put them in a car without a seat belt.”

For $9 dollars a month, Bark uses artificial intelligence to screen messages for signs of danger. If it finds a problem it alerts the parent and gives advice on how to discuss it with the child. The program is also available in schools and Jordan said it recently flagged a parent about a possible shooting.

That parent called the school and the school shut down so they could investigate and keep everyone safe

Libe Ackerman is editor in chief of the web site Super Parent. In addition to Bark she recommends Circle, which monitors devices that work through your WiFi. Or Pocket Guardian, which analyzes a child’s messages and social media .

“It can understand certain phrases and contexts to really know if there is a real issue or not, and whether a parent should be alerted.”

Kantawala said monitoring her son’s phone gives her peace of mind. She plans to keep it up until he leaves for college.


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