• 'Game changer' app helps parents monitor kids' texts, emails, social media

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    ATLANTA - Some schools are using an app that some say could help keep children safe in schools. 

    In the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, social media was involved.

    And that’s exactly what the Bark app monitors and its creators believe it could help all schools.

    The app tracks your children's social media activity, emails and texts.

    “Bark is technology that keeps children safer online both at home and at schools,” said Bark’s co-founder Titania Jordan. “We monitor of 25 social media platforms, texting, and email.”

    “What we're looking for are signs of cyberbullying, sexting, thoughts of suicide and depression, potential drug use, and acts of violence,” Jordan said.

    Once the app detects a problem, it sends parents an email or text.

    It also gives parents recommended steps on how to deal with the issues.

    “They don't have to spend days going through scripts and looking at a whole ton of streams of emails and texts,” Jordan said.

    To help parents in this fight to protect children, Bark is now branching out.

    Some schools are already using the app in a pilot program.

    Tim Hammill is the director of curriculum services at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

    He said Bark is a difference-maker.

    “You have all the intentions in the world to monitor what your child is doing through some of the tools we've had in the past, it's been labor intensive,” Hammill said.

    Before Bark, Jordan said it was hard for some parents to keep up with what their child was doing and who they were talking to.

    Now, the schools can have their back.


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    “They're on Snapchat in their bedroom at 1 a.m. And when they are absorbing people's best most-filtered, most-beautiful lives all the time and they don't see the real, raw authentic true lives, no wonder there are skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety and suicide,” Jordan said.

    Hammill said the schools using the app are getting positive feedback from parents.

    He believes all districts should give it a try.

    The Bark founders are offering it free to schools nationwide.

    “If what Bark brings to us is one strategy, one solution that works, then this is a game-changer,” Hammill said.

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