Innovation That Matters

Smart internet monitoring system respects children's privacy

Sport & Fitness

Bark is a monitoring system that keeps children safe online while ensuring their privacy, by only notifying parents when they are at risk.

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An increasing amount of socialization takes place online for children these days, presenting problems for parents who are keenly aware of the dangers it leaves their kids open to. We’ve already covered Mevoke, a plugin providing parents with a general picture of the kind of content their children are looking at and how it might be affecting them. Tapping into the same demand from parents to safeguard against internet dangers without spying on their every move, Bark helps users monitor their child’s internet activity whilst still respecting their right to privacy.

Bark uses machine learning to monitor children’s activity on their devices. It keeps an eye out for signs of possible dangers like cyberbullying, sexting say, or an interaction with an older stranger. Bark even detects signs of children experiencing mental health issues like depression and suicidal thoughts. The technology scans the interactions taking place and sends parents an alert when something potentially dangerous is detected.

The smart system looks at the context around a conversation rather than scanning for keywords. It knows when someone is jokingly saying “ugh, I hate you” in response to their friend getting a present they’re jealous of, for example, as opposed to when someone actually means it. At launch, the program supports the top social networks and apps as well as email accounts and, unlike many parental control applications, SMS and MMS messages.

It can be difficult to strike a balance between protecting youngsters, allowing them to explore and affording them their privacy. CEO Brian Bason designed the service to help parents start a conversation about the possible dangers of online interactions rather than having to snoop on their children. Bason notes that programs that allow users to look at everything their child is doing are incredibly time consuming, and mean that the child can feel “Like they have no privacy”. How else can businesses help families communicate more openly about internet safety?



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