Bark vs Canopy: A Detailed Comparison of Top Parental Control Apps

March 26, 2024

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As a parent in the digital age, keeping your kids safe online is a top priority. With so many threats lurking on the internet, from cyberbullying to explicit content, it’s crucial to have the right tools to protect your children.

That’s where parental control apps like Bark and Canopy come in. These services allow you to monitor your kids’ devices, set screen time limits, filter inappropriate content, and get alerts about potential issues.

But how do you choose between them? Bark and Canopy take different approaches to parental controls, with key differences in features, pricing, and more.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare Bark vs Canopy to help you decide which one is best for your family’s needs.

A Quick Overview of Bark and Canopy

Before we dive into the details, let’s start with a high-level overview of each parental control service.

What is Bark?


Founded in 2015, Bark monitors over 30 platforms using advanced AI to detect potential issues like cyberbullying, depression, online predators, and more.

Bark sends real-time alerts to parents when your kids may be at risk. It encourages trust between parents and children by allowing kids to share their location voluntarily.

With Bark, you get robust monitoring and alerts across social media, texts, email, YouTube, and over two dozen apps and platforms.

What is Canopy?

canopy logo

Released in 2019, Canopy takes a different approach focused on filtering out inappropriate content and images in real-time.

Rather than scanning through texts and emails, Canopy uses AI to instantly replace pornographic images with a white box. This allows kids privacy while still blocking mature content.

Canopy also provides device monitoring, time limits, location tracking, and alerts to foster digital wellbeing and communication between parents and children.

Now let’s take a detailed look at how Bark and Canopy compare across these key factors:

  • Content monitoring
  • Screen time management
  • Alerts
  • Pricing and plans
  • Ease of use
  • Customer support

Content Monitoring: Keeping Tabs on Your Kids’ Activity

A core feature of any parental control app is content monitoring to track your kids’ online activities across social media, texts, email, and web browsing.

Bark’s Monitoring Capabilities

Bark stands out for its extremely robust monitoring capabilities. It scans over 30 platforms including:

  • Social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok
  • SMS text messages
  • Email
  • YouTube
  • Apps like Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox
  • And many more

Bark uses advanced machine learning algorithms to detect over 15 categories of issues in your child’s online activity. This includes:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Depression or suicidal ideation
  • Sexting or sexual content
  • Drug use or alcohol abuse
  • Violence and weapons
  • Online predators

And much more. Bark will send mobile alerts to notify you when any concerning content is detected.

Canopy’s Monitoring Capabilities

Canopy Features And Functionality

Canopy takes a lighter approach to monitoring. Rather than scanning messages and emails, it focuses solely on filtering out inappropriate images in real-time.

Whenever Canopy detects a pornographic image on your child’s screen, it will instantly replace it with a white box placeholder instead of allowing the photo through.

This approach allows kids more privacy while still blocking mature content. However, Canopy does not provide any monitoring of texts, social media, or emails.

Between Bark and Canopy, Bark offers significantly more robust monitoring and alerts for concerning content across a wide range of platforms.

Time Management: Curbing Screen Time

Excessive screen time can be detrimental to kids’ development and wellbeing. Bark and Canopy both provide time management capabilities to control device usage.

Bark’s Screen Time Features

Bark's Screen Time Features

Bark allows you to set time limits for how long your kids can use certain apps and games. You can easily restrict social media, YouTube, Fortnite or Roblox to 30 minutes a day, for example.

However, Bark does not offer scheduling features to set “digital curfews” for when devices can or cannot be used, like during school or bedtime. The time limits focus specifically on individual apps rather than overall device usage.

Canopy’s Screen Time Features

Canopy Screen Time Limits

Canopy provides more scheduling-based time management. Parents can set daily schedules for when kids can use devices and when they will be automatically blocked.

For instance, you could restrict device access on school nights from 9pm to 7am. Or prevent use during school hours on weekdays.

However, Canopy does not have granular time limits for individual apps and games like Bark. This makes it harder to curb social media addiction or gaming binges.

Overall, Bark provides superior app-specific time management, while Canopy is better for general device schedules and digital curfews.

Location Tracking for Peace of Mind

Both Bark and Canopy offer location tracking capabilities to give parents visibility into where kids are at all times.

Bark’s Location Tracking Features

Bark's Location Tracking Features

With Bark, kids can choose to voluntarily share their location with parents through the app. This encourages trust and autonomy while still providing parents peace of mind.

Location can be shared on-demand or automatically at specified times. However, Bark will not update locations without the child’s consent.

Canopy’s Location Tracking Features

Canopy Location Monitoring

Canopy takes a more active tracking approach. Parents can access real-time location data for their kids’ device without needing their authorization.

You can also set up geofences and get alerts when your child leaves or enters specific locations like school or the neighborhood.

Canopy provides more automated location tracking. But Bark’s voluntary checking-in from kids helps build responsible independence.

Pricing and Plans Compared

When choosing a parental control service, pricing is an important factor. Here’s how Bark and Canopy compare:

Bark’s Pricing Plans

Bark offers several tiers to fit different family needs:

  • Bark Home: $6/month. Filters web content across devices, but limited monitoring/alerts.
  • Bark Phone: $49/month. Adds text message monitoring.
  • Bark Premium: $14/month. Full monitoring for all content types across 32 platforms.
Bark's Pricing Plans

There are no limits on the number of kids or devices covered under each plan. Overall, Bark offers flexible and affordable plans suitable for families with one child or several kids.

Canopy’s Pricing Plans

Canopy also offers several pricing tiers:

  • 3 devices: $7.99/month
  • 5 devices: $9.99/month
  • 10 devices: $15.99/month
  • Annual Plan for 5 devices: $99.99/year
Canopy Value

Lower tiers have cheaper monthly rates but more expensive yearly rates compared to Bark. And you are limited to a set number of devices covered, which may require multiple plans for larger families.

Overall, Bark tends to be more affordable especially for multiple kids. But Canopy offers a lower entry price point for smaller families.

Ease of Use: Simple Set Up and Controls

A parental control app needs to be easy to set up and manage for busy parents. Here is how Bark and Canopy compare when it comes to usability.

Bark’s Ease of Use

Bark apps are available for both iOS and Android. The set up process is quick and straightforward:

  1. Create a parent account
  2. Download the Bark Jr app on your kid’s device
  3. Link devices to your account

The parent dashboard is well-organized with activity filters, alerts, app controls, and location toggle. Usability is intuitive even for less tech-savvy parents.

Bark Dashboard

Canopy’s Ease of Use

Like Bark, Canopy offers simple installation on iPhones, Android phones, and other devices. You also get well-designed apps for parents and kids.

The Canopy parent portal allows you to adjust settings, view alerts, and monitor activities with just a few taps. Time schedules are easy to customize and restrictions can be changed on the fly.

Both Bark and Canopy make parental controls simple to set up and manage across devices. For most parents, the usability will be straightforward and hassle-free.

Customer Support: Getting Assistance When Needed

Reliable customer support makes a big difference when issues arise with technical parental control services.

Bark’s Customer Support

Bark offers several support options:

  • Email support with generally quick responses within 24 hours
  • Help center with FAQs, tutorials, and troubleshooting guides
  • Facebook community for advice from other parents
  • Premium chat support with instant messaging (only on highest Premium plan)

Phone support is one service Bark does not provide currently. But email and help resources offer parents robust assistance.

Canopy’s Customer Support

Canopy provides:

  • Email support with next day response during business hours
  • Toll-free phone number available 12pm – 8pm CT for immediate assistance
  • Support website with FAQs, articles, and step-by-step instructions

By offering direct phone support, Canopy makes it easy to get real-time help when you need it most. Bark relies more on self-service help resources.

Both services provide sufficient support access, but Canopy has a slight edge for urgent tech issues.

Free Trials: Testing Out the Services

Before committing to a paid subscription, most parents will want to try out these services first. Bark and Canopy both offer free trials but there are limitations.

Bark’s Free Trial

Bark offers a 7-day free trial to test drive their service. However, it does not come with a money-back guarantee if you cancel.

The free trial gives full access to Bark’s features including monitoring, alerts, app limits, etc. It’s a great way to evaluate the service first-hand.

Canopy’s Free Trial

Canopy also provides a 30-day free trial of their service. Again, there is no money-back guarantee offered on the trial.

You get complete access to content filtering, time management, location tracking, and Canopy’s full feature set during your trial. This gives ample time to decide if Canopy fits your family’s needs.

In summary, both services offer free trials so you can experience them risk-free. Canopy’s is longer at 30 days while Bark’s is just 7 days.

Key Differences and Which Is Best for Your Family

Now that we’ve compared the key features, let’s summarize the main differences between Bark vs Canopy:

  • Monitoring scope: Bark scans 30+ platforms vs Canopy only filtering images
  • Time management: Bark has app limits, Canopy has schedules
  • Location tracking: Canopy automated, Bark requires child consent
  • Pricing: Bark more affordable for multiple kids
  • Support: Canopy offers phone support

So which parental control app comes out on top?

Consider Bark If You Want:

  • Full monitoring of many apps and social media
  • Granular time management for individual apps
  • To build trust with location check-ins from kids
  • Flexible pricing suitable for large families
  • Robust support resources and email assistance

Consider Canopy If You Want:

  • Strong image filtering without scanning private content
  • Schedules and digital curfews for device usage
  • Automated location tracking without kid involvement
  • Low monthly pricing for small families
  • Phone support and live assistance

Ultimately, Bark is the best choice for most families due to its superior content monitoring, more flexible pricing, and smoother app limits. The depth of Bark’s oversight across 30+ platforms provides unparalleled protection and awareness.

However, Canopy parental controls will appeal to parents who prioritize fostering trust and open communication with their kids. Limiting more invasive monitoring in favor of broad content filtering helps achieve this goal.

Both Bark and Canopy offer high-quality parental control services tailored to different priorities. Assess the key differences to determine which solution best aligns with your family’s needs and approach to digital safety.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bark and Canopy

Here are answers to some common questions parents have when deciding between Bark and Canopy:

Can Bark and Canopy detect sexting?

Yes, both Bark and Canopy can detect sexting to some extent.

Bark actively scans for nude photos in texts, emails, and social media DMs using image recognition algorithms. It will send alerts for any explicit imagery found on your child’s device.

Canopy takes a more limited approach by filtering out inappropriate images only as they appear on-screen. It does not scan incoming or outgoing sexts across apps. But any nude selfies or pornographic pictures will be automatically blocked from view.

So for the most robust sexting detection, Bark is preferable. But Canopy offers a degree of protection by restricting explicit imagery.

Do Bark and Canopy work on iOS and Android?

Yes, both Bark and Canopy offer parental control apps for both major mobile operating systems.

You can install Bark and Canopy on iPhones, iPads, Android phones/tablets, and even Windows PCs. This cross-platform support makes it easy to monitor and manage all your family’s devices.

Can Bark and Canopy detect depression or self-harm?

Bark actively monitors for signs of depression, mental health issues, and self-harm in your child’s online activity. Its algorithms scan texts across platforms for related keywords, content, and warning signs.

Canopy does not specifically monitor for depression or suicidal ideation. However, some of Canopy’s general “threat” alerts may flag concerning mental health content. But this is not its primary focus.

So Bark is better equipped to detect depression and self-harm in kids based on its comprehensive monitoring capabilities. Canopy has more limited capabilities in this regard.

Do Bark or Canopy work on gaming systems?

Neither Bark nor Canopy integrates directly with gaming consoles like Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch.

However, both services allow you to filter and manage game time through the connected smartphone apps. For example, you can use Bark to limit your child’s Xbox use by restricting the Xbox app on their iPhone.

But neither service offers controls or monitoring directly on the game consoles themselves currently. So platform support is limited to PC, mobile, and tablets.

What support options do Bark and Canopy offer?

Bark provides email support, parent forum access, and helpful online resources. For tech issues, most parents will need to rely on Bark’s FAQs and community forums.

Canopy offers email support as well but also has phone and chat support for a more direct line of contact. The phone line is only open limited hours but provides excellent real-time assistance.

So Canopy has a slight edge in live support access. But both services provide sufficient help channels to address parents’ concerns.

Which Parental Control App Is Right for You?

Here are some final recommendations based on your family’s needs and priorities when choosing between Bark vs Canopy:

Choose Bark If You Want:

  • Maximum oversight of social media, texts, email
  • To closely manage gaming and app addiction
  • Alerts for serious online dangers
  • Broad platform support beyond mobile
  • Reliable email support and online resources

Choose Canopy If You Want:

  • To build trust with limited covert monitoring
  • Schedules for digital free time
  • Fast live assistance via phone support
  • Affordable pricing for 1-3 kids
  • Strong image filtering but greater privacy

Take advantage of the free trials to experience these services for yourself. Bark offers a 7-day free trial while Canopy provides 30 days to test it out.

For the most robust protection across the widest range of content, Bark is hard to beat. But parents that favor trust over control may align better with Canopy’s approach.

Whichever you choose, use this guide to select the best parental control solution tailored to your family’s unique needs and priorities in the digital age. Your kids will thank you for taking the time to find the right fit.