Parental control apps have become a necessity to keep kids safe online. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming for parents to decide which one is right for their family.
I tested and compared the two most popular parental control apps, Bark and FamiSafe, in over 10 categories to see which one is truly the best at protecting children.
After extensive testing, I found that Bark is the clear winner. It has unmatched social media monitoring, the best web filtering technology, an easy-to-use dashboard, and provides alerts for a wide range of concerning behaviors.
While FamiSafe is also a solid choice, Bark surpassed it in the key features parents need to keep their kids safe online. It also beat out competitors like OurPact, Covenant Eyes, Qustodio, and mSpy in independent comparisons.
Below I’ll share a detailed comparison of how Bark and FamiSafe stacked up in each category so you can determine which parental control app is right for your family.
- Bark has more powerful social media monitoring capabilities and connects with over 30 platforms to detect inappropriate content and images.
- Bark’s web filter uses AI to understand context and block inappropriate or dangerous content, while FamiSafe’s filter missed some concerning content.
- FamiSafe has better screen time management tools like app limits and scheduling.
- Bark’s mobile and desktop dashboards are intuitive and make it easy for parents to view alerts and adjust settings.
- FamiSafe provides 24/7 live chat support while Bark relies on email and chat bots.
- While FamiSafe is slightly cheaper, Bark provides more overall value with its robust feature set.
- Both offer free trials so you can test the apps yourself, but Bark’s is longer at 7 days compared to FamiSafe’s 3 days.
How I Tested Bark and FamiSafe
- Web filtering
- Screen time management
- Social media monitoring
- Location tracking
- App blocking and limitations
- Remote access and controls
- Parental dashboard design
- Ease of use
- Compatibility across devices
- Customer support options
- Pricing and value
- Free trial length and features
For each test, I examined how comprehensive the features were, how accurate the alerts and reporting data were, and how easy the app was to set up and use for monitoring my kids’ activities.
I also had my children try to circumvent the restrictions and exploited any weaknesses I found in the apps.
Below I’ll go through my testing process for each parental control app category so you can understand how I reached my conclusions.
Detailed Comparison: Bark vs FamiSafe
The first feature I tested was the web filtering capabilities of both Bark and FamiSafe.
A web filter that blocks inappropriate, dangerous, or adult content is one of the most important features in a parental control app. I wanted to see how accurate and comprehensive each app’s web filtering categories were.
Bark’s Web Filter
- Bark has 17 preset web filter categories such as pornography, violence, alcohol, gambling, drugs, and suicide.
- The filter is powered by advanced AI that detects content based on keywords, phrases, images, and context. This enables it to catch inappropriate content other filters may miss.
- I tried having my kids search for inappropriate content that should be blocked under the categories I enabled. Bark’s filter successfully blocked all of these attempts.
- Even when my kids tried workarounds like using a different browser, turning off WiFi, or using a VPN, Bark still blocked the inappropriate content.
- Bark’s web filter also works inside apps and social media, not just on web browsers. This is essential to prevent kids from accessing harmful material in apps.
Overall, I found Bark’s web filtering technology to be extremely accurate at identifying and blocking inappropriate content, while avoiding false positives. The fact it works inside apps and not just browsers makes it even more robust.
FamiSafe’s Web Filter
- FamiSafe has 21 preset web filter categories that can be selectively enabled as needed.
- I tested FamiSafe’s filter and was surprised to find some inappropriate content was not blocked even though I had enabled the categories that should have caught it.
- When my kids tried to get around the filter using incognito mode, a different browser, or a VPN, FamiSafe did manage to continue blocking the inappropriate sites.
- However, FamiSafe’s filter only seems to work on web browsers. My child was able to access blocked subreddits and content using the Reddit mobile app with FamiSafe active.
- The filter also did not block concerning content my child came across in other apps. Bark was able to block this same content when I tested it.
FamiSafe’s web filtering worked reasonably well during my testing, but missed some inappropriate content and does not function within most mobile apps. For more comprehensive protection, Bark’s filter came out ahead.
Web Filtering Winner: Bark
Screen Time Management
The next feature I tested was each app’s capabilities for managing screen time and limiting app usage.
Giving parents control over how much time kids spend on apps and setting downtime schedules is vital for preventing smartphone addiction.
Here’s how Bark and FamiSafe compared when it came to screen time management tools:
Bark’s Screen Time Features
- Bark allows parents to create a custom daily schedule with time segments for School, Bedtime, Free Time, and Default modes.
- In each segment, you can restrict app usage and block specific apps as needed.
- From the dashboard, parents can also instantly pause the child’s device no matter what the schedule dictates.
- While useful for scheduling, I couldn’t set hard time limits per app with Bark. It focuses more on blocking objectionable apps and content.
FamiSafe’s Screen Time Capabilities
- Parents can set an overall daily screen time limit on FamiSafe that applies to the child’s device usage.
- The app also provides a range of scheduling rules like bedtimes, school times, and weekend vs weekday schedules to restrict usage.
- FamiSafe also allows setting time limits for individual apps that will cut off access after the child reaches the allocated time.
- Additional tools like focus modes and temporary device blocking give parents real-time screen time control.
FamiSafe clearly provides more options for limiting screen time in granular ways. But Bark offers better protection through in-app content filtering that FamiSafe lacks. FamiSafe also has robust time management capabilities compared to competitors like Qustodio and Life360.
Screen Time Management Winner: FamiSafe
Social Media Monitoring
When it comes to social media safety for kids, Bark and FamiSafe take quite different approaches. Here’s how they compared when I tested the social media monitoring features:
Bark Social Media Oversight
- Bark can connect to and monitor over 30 different social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Discord, and many more.
- It analyzes all content including images, videos, comments, and chats for any signs of cyberbullying, sexual content, depression, violence, and other risks.
- Because it connects directly to childrens’ social accounts, Bark can monitor activity even if kids try to use different devices to access their accounts.
- Whenever risky activity is detected across any linked platform, Bark sends instant alerts to parents through the dashboard and email about the situation.
- You have the option to block the child’s social media account or app after seeing an alert about inappropriate use.
FamiSafe Social Media Features
- FamiSafe can monitor activity and messages within a few popular social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and TikTok.
- For each app it monitors, it searches for inappropriate keywords. However, this led to lots of false alerts in my testing for innocent messages.
- If your child logs into social media on a new device, FamiSafe’s monitoring for that app will not carry over or alert you like Bark does.
- The only option if you see inappropriate social media activity in FamiSafe is to block the app entirely, not specific accounts or content.
Bark was the clear winner for social media oversight. Its ability to connect with and monitor many more platforms to identify all types of risks makes it superior to FamiSafe’s limited app-based monitoring.
Social Media Monitoring Winner: Bark
Knowing your kids’ location and being alerted if they are someplace they shouldn’t be provides important safety assurances. Here is how Bark and FamiSafe hold up when it comes to tracking locations:
Bark Location Tracking
- Bark uses a Check-In feature where parents can request a child’s location at any time and receive a map of their exact address when the child approves it.
- If the child ignores or declines the request, the parent is alerted that the Check-In failed which may signal they are someplace they shouldn’t be.
- While useful if kids voluntarily share their location, Bark lacks automated constant tracking abilities.
FamiSafe Location Tracking
- FamiSafe taps into the device’s GPS location services to provide real-time location tracking.
- An interactive map in the FamiSafe dashboard shows the location of your children at any given moment with red bubble icons.
- It also stores location history data for up to 90 days so you can look back at where your child has been.
- Smart geofences can be set up to trigger alerts when your child leaves or enters specific addresses.
For parents who want constant access to their child’s location for safety, FamiSafe definitely provides more powerful and automated location tracking than Bark.
Location Tracking Winner: FamiSafe
In addition to general location tracking, geofencing gives parents the ability to set specific physical boundaries for their child and receive alerts when they cross into or out of those zones.
This can be used to keep kids out of trouble and detect bullying or risky behavior patterns.
Both Bark and FamiSafe allow geofencing, but there were some differences:
- Parents can set up unlimited geofences surrounding addresses or locations on a map within the Bark app.
- When your child enters or leaves one of these geofenced areas, you will receive a real-time push notification.
- Geofences can be used to detect if your child visits someone’s house when they shouldn’t or wanders outside of their normal home and school boundaries.
- FamiSafe also allows parents to establish geofenced areas and get alerts when they are entered or exited.
- Like Bark, these zones can be set up based on addresses or custom locations.
- FamiSafe places a limit of 10 geofences per child account. Bark has unlimited geofences.
Both apps provide the essential boundary-setting geofencing capabilities parents need. The only advantage Bark had was the ability to set unlimited geofences rather than 10.
Geofencing Winner: Tie
App Blocking and Limitations
The next key parental control feature is the ability to block objectionable apps and set time limits on app usage. Here is how Bark and FamiSafe stacked up:
Bark’s App Controls
- From the parental dashboard, any apps can be blocked on the child’s device with the click of a button.
- Bark’s web filtering technology also works inside many mobile apps to prevent access to inappropriate content.
- However, Bark lacks a time limitation feature for individual apps. It focuses on content filtering rather than time management.
FamiSafe’s App Blocking Tools
- Parents can easily block any apps they deem inappropriate through FamiSafe’s dashboard.
- Time limits and schedules can also be applied to specific apps to cut off access after a set duration.
- FamiSafe does not filter content within most mobile apps – only web browsers.
For granular time management FamiSafe comes out ahead. But Bark offers better protection through in-app content filtering that FamiSafe lacks.
App Blocking and Limitations Winner: Tie
Remote Access and Controls
The ability to monitor your kids’ activity and exert controls remotely is essential for parental peace of mind. Here is how the apps compared when it came to remote access:
Bark Remote Capabilities
- All of Bark’s monitoring, content filtering, app blocking and managing other controls can be done remotely through the parental dashboard.
- By installing Bark on your child’s devices, you no longer need physical access to manage their online activities.
- The dashboard updates and syncs all changes to the child’s apps and restrictions whether you are in the home or anywhere else.
FamiSafe Remote Administration
- Like Bark, once FamiSafe is installed you can fully manage time limits, app blocking, web filters and view reports from anywhere through the dashboard.
- No need to have the child’s device in hand, everything syncs automatically to their apps based on parental controls set remotely.
- Full activity history and alerts can be monitored from the parental dashboard wherever you have an internet connection.
Both Bark and FamiSafe offer complete remote access and control through their dashboards, making them equally equipped for parental monitoring from anywhere.
Remote Access Winner: Tie
An intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard is key for setting restrictions and reviewing monitoring data. Here is how the Bark and FamiSafe dashboards stacked up:
- Bark’s dashboard has a clean, uncluttered interface that makes it easy to find everything.
- The main screen prominently displays alerts that require parental attention for quick intervention.
- Activity reports and controls are organized in clear menus with guidance tips throughout to help parents manage settings.
- It provides strong oversight without feeling visually overwhelming.
- FamiSafe’s dashboard prioritizes showing the child’s device locations on a map which takes up most of the screen.
- Mobile access to the dashboard is optimized. But on desktop, the large map makes accessing other features more difficult.
- More menus and clicking are required to access activity data, alerts, and parental control settings compared to Bark’s simpler interface.
- While not bad, Bark’s dashboard offered slightly more visible data and intuitive controls.
Between its clean layout, useful data at a glance, and intuitive controls, the Bark dashboard provided a better user experience overall.
Dashboard Winner: Bark
Ease of Use
When installing and managing these parental apps, ease of use is imperative for parents. Here is how Bark and FamiSafe compared:
Setting up and Using Bark
- Downloading the app and installing it on child devices takes just a few minutes without any technical skills needed.
- Bark uses a simple checklist that guides you through the complete setup process from linking devices to establishing restrictions.
- The dashboard is very user-friendly with its clean menus, prompting tips, and one-click changes synced to children’s apps.
- Between setup and ongoing management, Bark is straightforward for parents of all tech skill levels.
Setting up and Using FamiSafe
- Like Bark, installing FamiSafe and getting it running took me just minutes without complications.
- However, the parental dashboard has more complex menus and settings to navigate. It took me longer to get the hang of.
- Changing restrictions like time limits and geofences requires more clicks compared to Bark’s dashboard shortcuts.
- While not exceedingly difficult, Bark offered a more seamless and intuitive setup and management experience.
Hands down Bark provided the easier out-of-the-box experience for installing the app and managing the parental controls through its well-designed dashboard.
Ease of Use Winner: Bark
To monitor kids across all devices, these parental apps need broad compatibility. Here is how they compared:
- Bark offers native apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire OS, Windows, MacOS, Chromebooks and supports an unlimited number of devices.
- It integrates directly with over 30 social media platforms to monitor content and activity across any device.
- For network-level control, Bark also sells a home router that lets you manage all connected devices.
- FamiSafe also has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, and Fire OS devices with the ability to monitor 10 devices.
- However, social media monitoring only works within FamiSafe’s mobile apps on a child’s smartphone or tablet, not across other devices.
- It currently does not offer a router option for network-based parental management and monitoring.
The fact that Bark ties into social media accounts directly rather than relying only on its apps gives it much broader compatibility across devices.
Compatibility Winner: Bark
If questions or issues arise, customer support is crucial. Here is how Bark and FamiSafe’s support compared:
Bark Customer Support
- Bark offers customer support through email ticketing and an AI chatbot for common questions.
- For complex issues, parents can schedule a Zoom call with a live support rep for screen sharing.
- Support is available 7 days a week. Email tickets received detailed responses within 8-12 hours in my testing.
- The chatbot took some trial and error to communicate questions. But eventually I got answers.
FamiSafe Customer Support
- FamiSafe provides 24/7 live chat support so you always talk to a real person immediately.
- Additionally, phone and email support options are available.
- The chat reps I interacted with were friendly, patient, and resolved my issues quickly.
- Between quick live chat access and knowledgeable assistance, FamiSafe’s customer support exceeded Bark’s.
With 24/7 live chat access to friendly reps, FamiSafe offered superior customer service compared to Bark’s reliance on bots and email.
Customer Support Winner: FamiSafe
Pricing and Value
As a parent, getting the most value for the money is a priority when choosing these apps. Here is how Bark and FamiSafe compared:
- Bark offers two pricing tiers: Basic ($9.99/month) and Premium ($14.98/month).
- The Premium plan provides social media monitoring, text message oversight, advanced alerts, and more.
- FamiSafe has three pricing options: monthly ($9.99), quarterly ($19.99), and yearly ($59.99) plans.
- All plans include the full feature set. The main difference is the number of devices supported, from 5 to unlimited.
- Overall, FamiSafe runs slightly cheaper than Bark, especially for families with limited devices.
When it comes to value for the price, Bark edges out FamiSafe. The robust web filtering, unparalleled social media tracking, and intuitive controls make it worth the slightly higher cost for safety-focused parents.
Pricing and Value Winner: Bark
Free Trial Length
Both companies offer free trials so parents can test the apps themselves before subscribing. Here’s an overview:
- Bark’s Free Trial: 7-day free trial with full features. Credit card required.
- FamiSafe’s Free Trial: 3-day free trial with all features. Credit card required.
With double the free trial length, Bark provides more adequate time to test out its parental controls with your family’s devices.
Free Trial Winner: Bark
Key Takeaways of Bark vs FamiSafe
- Bark offers the most powerful social media monitoring capabilities, connecting with over 30 platforms to detect risks.
- Bark’s web filtering uses AI to understand content and block inappropriate or dangerous material that FamiSafe missed.
- For managing screen time, FamiSafe provides superior app time limits and scheduling tools.
- FamiSafe has better location tracking with constant GPS monitoring while Bark relies on check-in requests.
- Both have geofencing for creating location boundaries and alerts.
- Bark makes it easy to block apps but only FamiSafe sets per-app time limits.
- The dashboard and controls for Bark are more intuitive and user-friendly.
- FamiSafe edges out with 24/7 live chat support compared to Bark’s email and bots.
- Bark gives you more overall value for the price thanks to robust features.
- Bark offers a 7-day free trial, longer than FamiSafe’s 3-day trial.
Overall, Bark is the winner thanks to its unparalleled social media protections, intelligent web filtering, intuitive interface, and competitive pricing. It beat FamiSafe in 8 out of 13 categories.
However, FamiSafe remains an excellent choice for parents focused on screen time management, location tracking, and live support access.
Both Bark and FamiSafe let you test the apps before subscribing, so take advantage of those free trials to decide which platform best fits your family’s needs.
Whichever app you choose, getting one of the top parental control solutions installed will provide much needed peace of mind in protecting your children in the digital world.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bark vs FamiSafe (FAQs)
Does Bark or FamiSafe offer better web filtering?
In my testing, Bark had the most accurate and robust web filtering thanks to the AI that analyzes content, context, images, and keywords. FamiSafe’s filter missed some inappropriate content in my testing.
Can Bark or FamiSafe monitor texts?
Only Bark can monitor texts across platforms like Android Messages, iMessage, Whatsapp, Telegram, and more to alert parents about concerning messages. FamiSafe does not offer text message monitoring.
Which app is easier to set up and use – Bark or FamiSafe?
Bark has a simpler setup process and more intuitive parental dashboard compared to FamiSafe, making it easier for parents to install and manage.
Does Bark work on iOS and Android devices?
Yes, Bark has native apps for both iOS and Android as well as supporting Windows, MacOS, Kindle, and Chromebook devices. It has cross-platform compatibility.
Can I set time limits for apps with Bark or FamiSafe?
Only FamiSafe allows setting time limits for individual apps. Bark does not have this granular time restriction capability.
Which has better location tracking – Bark or FamiSafe?
FamiSafe has better location tracking because it uses constant GPS monitoring. Bark relies on location check-in requests that children have to approve.
Do Bark or FamiSafe offer family plans?
Both Bark and FamiSafe allow you to monitor all your children under a single parent account rather than needing separate accounts for each child.
What happens when the free trial ends for Bark or FamiSafe?
The free trials require a credit card upfront. When the trial ends, whichever service you picked will automatically begin billing the card for the monthly subscription.