Online safety company Bark Technologies today announced its inaugural international expansion with the launch of its award-winning monitoring service and parental control tools in South Africa.
A leader in the digital safety space in the U.S., Bark currently protects nearly 6 million children at home and in more than 2,900 schools and districts nationwide. Using highly sophisticated artificial intelligence, Bark detects and alerts families to concerning behaviors in a variety of categories, including cyberbullying, depression, suicidal ideation, violence, and online predation by monitoring more than 30 of today’s most popular social media platforms and apps, as well as text messages, images, videos, chats, emails, and files.
Bark’s expansion into South Africa is the first of several projected rollouts worldwide, providing a much-needed service in areas with limited online protection for children.
“South Africa is an exciting expansion for Bark because of the immediate and increasing need for online child safety tools in a rapidly developing area of the world,” said Skylar Walker, Bark’s director of business development. “As we continue to develop and build partnerships with local service providers in South Africa, we will be able to offer our services to many communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to such safety tools.”
A recent study* commissioned by UNICEF in South Africa analyzed the online behaviors of more than 2,600 children ages 9 – 17 countrywide. Noted findings from UNICEF’s ‘Disrupting Harm Study’ include:
- 70% of children surveyed use the internet without parental consent.
- 25% confirmed that they have added people whom they have never met face-to-face to their friends or contacts list.
- 18% have sent a photo or video of themselves to a person they have never met face-to-face.
- 67% of child participants who have seen sexual images were exposed to them on an online device.
Bark plans to build on its presence in South Africa and beyond by forging partnerships with ISPs and other service providers who have a vested interest in youth safety.
Launched in 2015 by a father looking for ways to help keep his own children safe online, Bark has become a trusted company for families and a powerful thought leader in the online safety space. Recent milestones include the launch of the company’s hardware product, Bark Home; a best-selling book, Parenting in a Tech World; and the honor of being featured in the eye-opening documentary Childhood 2.0. The Bark team also maintains an active schedule of educational presentations, including tech nights for parents and online safety trainings for school administrators nationwide.