The World Wide Web is vast, diverse and constantly evolving. With billions of people surfing the net every day, it can be daunting to keep tabs on what the younger members of our families are exposed to. In today’s age where anyone can say or send whatever they like under the veil of a digital environment, Atlanta-based Bark Technologies is assisting parents with the task of ensuring their children have safe online experiences.
Bark announced on Wednesday the close of its $30 million Series C financing round. The company operates an AI-powered digital safety platform that quietly monitors social apps and platforms for signs of harmful interactions and content. Kayne Partners led the raise for Bark, bringing its total funding to $67 million. As part of the round, Leon Chen, a managing partner at Kayne Partners, is joining Bark’s board of directors.
“We are thrilled to have Kayne Partners as a partner to help us offer even more families our online safety tools and resources,” Brian Bason, founder and CEO of Bark, said in a statement. “In such an unpredictable world filled with far too many digital dangers that have greatly contributed to a youth mental health crisis, this funding is critical to our company’s mission and expansion to help protect more children online and in real life.”
Offering a suite of web filtering and screen time management tools, Bark connects to more than 30 apps and social media platforms — as well as email and text — to spot signs of problems such as cyberbullying, online predators or threats of violence. The platform automatically sends guardians email and text alerts when its algorithm detects potential risks.
While no one ever hopes to have these kinds of online encounters, the issue is becoming more prevalent today with the rise of digital activities among people of all age groups. As more children are growing up in this online age, Bark released a 2021 research report on children and technology. After analyzing 3.4 billion messages across various platforms, the report’s findings include data on how many minors are exposed to potentially harmful situations on digital platforms.
The report mentions that 68.97 percent of tweens and 90.73 percent of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature while online. It also found that 75.35 percent of tweens and 93.31 percent of teens had conversations surrounding drugs or alcohol. Additionally, 72.09 percent of tweens and 85 percent of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim or witness.
“Bark is changing the world for the better by using technology for social good,” Chen said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with a cause-driven organization that not only helps to protect children but also educates and empowers families while modeling behaviors of responsible digital citizens.”
Today Bark helps protect the online experiences of nearly 6 million children at home as well as within more than 3,200 schools and districts across the U.S., Guam, South Africa and Australia. The company’s latest funding round will go toward furthering its international expansion and enabling more strategic global partnerships.