When it comes to choosing a safe phone for your child, there are a lot of factors to consider. A popular phone to consider is the Bark Phone. It offers a variety of features to help parents keep their kids safe online, but there are some important shortcomings you should be aware of. As a result, we are providing a comprehensive Bark phone review for you.
The Bark Phone is a viable option for parents looking for a phone with built-in parental controls. It offers a variety of features, including alerts about dangerous content. However, it has some key weaknesses:
Alerts about dangers
Large number of apps to download
Cannot remotely monitor texts
Cannot choose your own cellular plan
If you’re looking for built-in parental controls to provide a safe smartphone for your kids, there is only one option for Bark phones. The Bark Phone is a Samsung A13 (not the latest phone in its line), and it comes with cellular service, so you cannot choose your own network.
The Bark Phone is paid for through a monthly subscription. There is no up front cost for the device itself, and parents will “own” the phone after 90 days. They are able to return the phone during those first 90 days if they no longer wish to use it.
After powering on the phone, Bark software will be automatically loaded onto the phone and parents will be able to log in and set up the controls from their parent portal. The cellular plan is purchased along with the phone, so it will be ready to use right away.
The Bark Phone allows parents to set up basic restrictions for when apps are or are not allowed to be used, but there is no way to set time limits for apps. Bark allows parents to download any app from Google Play onto the phone unlike some other child phones which restrict app availability. Unfortunately there is no way to lock the phone completely like you can with the MMGuardian Phone, but parents can completely disable the internet, rendering most apps unusable.
Parents also have access to other features such as getting the GPS location of the phone, setting up a safe list of contacts, and internet filtering.
While Bark does provide alerts about exposure to concerning content, it does not give parents to remotely view messages unless those messages generate alerts. Parents will have to physically confiscate the phone to view entire conversations.
√ All Google Play apps available
√ GPS location & tracking
√ Alerts about concerning content
√ Great user interface
x Older phone model
x Very expensive
x Limited data options
x Cannot view texts remotely
The Bark Phone comes locked in with its own custom carrier which you cannot change. You cannot add the Bark Phone to your current family plan or choose an alternate carrier such as Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.
The Bark Phone is able to connect to WiFi and use cellular data. It is also capable of downloading web browsers which can be filtered to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content.
Parents can also completely, temporarily disable internet access on their child’s phone.
Bark scans messages and sends alerts to parents about concerning message content. However, Bark does not show parents all messages. Bark only the messages that generated alerts in order to protect child privacy.
While parents can install any app from Google Play onto the Bark Phone, other parental control apps can interfere with the Bark parental control functions.
If you are interested in having more parental control options such as setting app time limits, remotely viewing text conversations, or completely locking the phone, you should consider a phone that has more options such as the MMGuardian Phone.
Pricing depends on the features and how much data you need.
The “starter plan” for very young children who just need texting/calling and no apps or web browsing is $29/month.
For a phone that comes with all features, there are three options, all of which come with unlimited talk and text:
$49/month – Wi-Fi only data
$59/month – 4GB data per month
$69/month – 8GB data per month
The MMGuardian Phone has been mentioned several times in this article as it covers many of the weaknesses of the Bark Phone.
Most significantly, the cost of ownership and usage of an MMGuardian Phone is much less than the Bark Phone, even over less than one year. For a more in-depth look at the MMGuardian Phone vs the Bark Phone, see our comparison article.