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Special Report: The top three apps to help monitor your child's online activity

Most teenagers have a smartphone or at least have access to one. Roughly 45% of them say they're online 'almost constantly.'

For families who worry about their children's safety online, the newest generation of monitoring services may be a parent's best friend.

There are apps that are so sophisticated, they can screen for red flags without violating a child's privacy.

When Ami Kantawala's son started middle school, she knew it was time to pay closer attention to his online activities. She downloaded a monitoring app called Bark to analyze his email and social media. It alerts her to issues including bullying, depression, and drugs.

Titania Jordan is Bark's chief parent officer. She says the internet needs precautions, just like the real world.

"You don't send your child to the beach without sunscreen, you don't put them in a car without a seatbelt," said Jordan.

For $9 a month, Bark uses artificial intelligence to screen messages for signs of danger. If it finds a problem, it alerts the parent and gives advice on how to discuss it with the child. The program is also available in schools and Jordan says it recently flagged a parent about a possible shooting.

"That parent called the school, the school shut down so they could investigate and keep everyone safe," said Jordan.

Libe Ackerman is Editor in Chief of the website SuperParent. In addition to Bark, she recommends Circle which monitors devices that work through your wifi or Pocket Guardian which analyzes a child's messages and social media.

"It can understand certain phrases and contexts to really know if there is a real issue or not and whether a parent should be alerted," said Ackerman.

Kantawala says monitoring her son's phone gives her peace of mind. She plans to keep up with it until he leaves for college.


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