(BPT) - By Tony Mokry, Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Cricket Wireless
We have been living in a digital world for years, but since the pandemic began, having a cell phone has become even more necessary for everyday life. Cell phones and tablets allow us to work from anywhere and study remotely. They help us manage the comings and goings of our busy families - helping to ensure that no child is left at soccer practice, cheerleading tryouts, or other life events that require us to stay connected throughout the day. We also use cell phones to capture, share and preserve precious moments, as well as to keep us entertained and informed while we're on the go. Now more than ever, cell phones allow us to maintain old friendships and secure new ones - through texts, phone calls or a simple swipe to the right.
Owning a cell phone has also become a rite of passage for young people. Today, it's not a question of if your kids will get a cell phone, but when - and if they are prepared to have one. Understandably, parents may have concerns about their children's safety when using cell phones.
In fact in 2021, Bark Technologies analyzed over 3.4 billion online activities and found that 68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature, 43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation, and 72.09% of tweens and 85% of teens experienced bullying. And these problems have only been exacerbated over the last two years. Earlier studies from Bark also show that in the first three months of 2021, there was a 143% increase in alerts for self-harm and suicidal ideation among children ages 12-18, as compared to the first three months of 2020. Unfortunately, suicide attempts, sexting, hate speech and cyberbullying have also been trending upwards among young people.
But parents don't have to feel helpless in the face of these disturbing trends. Just as new drivers are required to pass a driving test before getting behind the wheel of a car, it makes sense to equip your child with the right tools and information to ensure that their cell phone journey is a safe one.
One such tool is Bark - an award-winning, online safety and parental control service that helps families safely navigate the digital world. Bark provides content blocking and screen time management, covering over 30 of today's most popular social media platforms plus texts, chat and email. Bark is committed to educating families about online safety and empowering parents to raise happy, healthy digital citizens.
With so many families using wireless devices as their primary way to connect and communicate, Cricket Wireless wants to help kids use their phones in a safe, positive way, and so has collaborated with Bark Technologies to help parents and families safely navigate the digital world. Through this collaboration with Bark, Cricket is arming young people with the tools to protect themselves online - as well as empowering parents to help their children stay safer. Knowing how to use these tools will allow families to enjoy the best features that today's technology offers, while reducing the worry parents have about any potential harm.
How parents can help protect kids using cell phones
To take advantage of this collaboration, Cricket customers can visit Bark.US/CricketWireless. Customers can sign up for Bark Jr. for FREE or subscribe to Bark Premium at the discounted rate of $9.99 per month - for new Bark customers only. After 12 months, Bark Premium renews at the prevailing rate (currently $14 per month) unless you cancel.
Parents can choose from two options:
- Bark Jr: Free to Cricket customers and perfect for younger kids. Parents and guardians can manage screen time and filter websites to ensure that children are accessing appropriate content. The app also gives parents and guardians a tool to keep up with kids via location check-ins.
- Bark Premium: This service comes with all the features of Bark Jr., plus the ability to monitor activities in emails, browsers, text messages and 30+ apps and social platforms. Parents will receive alerts for issues like cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, and more.
For parents who have other concerns about their kids or who just want to better understand the digital world their children are navigating every day, Bark and Cricket have created additional resources to educate parents on protecting their children online and raising responsible digital citizens.
These resources include:
- Themed online and printed materials on topics including digital citizenship, cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, teen slang, emojis, speaking Gen Z and more.
- Printed quick-start guide, 'Navigating The Digital World,' at participating Cricket stores.
This Bark/Cricket Wireless initiative aligns with Cricket's commitment to educating young people on digital citizenship and helping them to build healthy, human connections by encouraging healthy mobile habits, and providing tools to navigate these challenging times. With that in mind, Cricket also shares resources from the Bark collaboration with non-profit organizations it works with nationwide.
The truth is, digital threats exist for every cell phone user, regardless of age, so it's vital for every member of your family to be aware of these threats - and what they can do to avoid them.
For more information and to take advantage of this offer, please visit Sponsorships.CricketWireless.com/ParentalControls.