Parental control apps have become increasingly popular among parents seeking to keep their kids safe online. With so many options available, it can be tough to decide which one is right for your family. Two of the most well-known apps are Bark and MMGuardian. But how do you choose between them?
This in-depth guide will compare the key features, capabilities, and approaches of Bark vs MMGuardian. Read on to learn which parental control app is the better fit for monitoring your child’s digital activities.
- Bark specializes in monitoring social media and messaging for concerning content using AI. MMGuardian offers more extensive blocking and time limit controls.
- Bark allows viewing messages that generate alerts; MMGuardian allows viewing all messages.
- MMGuardian has strong anti-tamper protections; Bark is easily removable.
- For Android, Bark covers more apps but MMGuardian is more customizable. Both are limited on iPhone.
- Bark costs $14/month or $99/year for unlimited devices; MMGuardian is $7.99/month or $69.99/year for 5 devices.
- Overall, MMGuardian provides stricter parental controls while Bark focuses on AI-powered alerts. Assess your priorities to pick the right app.
How They Work
Both Bark and MMGuardian leverage AI and machine learning to monitor children’s devices for signs of risky activities like cyberbullying, depression, explicit content, and predators. But they take different approaches:
- Bark emphasizes privacy along with detection. It only shows parents messages that trigger alerts, avoiding full message access. The goal is promoting trust while still monitoring for threats.
- MMGuardian gives parents more oversight with options like viewing all messages. It focuses on restricting device use through blocking, filtering, and time limits.
For Android phones, MMGuardian can be downloaded directly from the Google Play store. Bark requires sideloading the app for full functionality. On iPhone, both have limitations due to iOS restrictions.
Key Features Compared
Here’s an in-depth look at how Bark and MMGuardian stack up across key parental control features:
- Bark offers AI-powered alerts for concerning content including grooming, cyberbullying, depression, and explicit images. Parents can adjust alert sensitivity. Video monitoring is included.
- MMGuardian also provides AI alerts for risky content. Additional alerts cover new app downloads, power offs, and more. Fast detection time compared to delays with Bark.
- iPhone: Both provide AI alerts, but MMGuardian detected inappropriate cached images more reliably in our tests.
Covenant Eyes is another leading parental control app – check out how it compares to Bark here: Covenant Eyes vs Bark.
- Bark only shows messages generating alerts. Takes a privacy-focused approach. Wide social media and messaging app coverage.
- MMGuardian allows viewing all messages in supported apps. Currently covers fewer apps than Bark on Android but is expanding.
- iPhone: Bark widely monitors apps. MMGuardian offers SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook monitoring.
Qustodio is a highly rated platform – see how it measures up to Bark in this head-to-head: Qustodio vs Bark.
- Bark has no anti-tamper technology. Kids can easily uninstall it. Provides an alert if removed.
- MMGuardian uses patented anti-tamper tech to prevent bypassing. Frequently releases security updates. Strongest protections.
- iPhone: Due to iOS limitations, both require using Screen Time restrictions to block uninstalls.
mSpy is a popular monitoring software for parents. See how it compares to Bark’s offerings: mSpy vs Bark.
- Bark blocks sites by category or individually. Can filter all browsers.
- MMGuardian also filters sites by category or URL, with more categories available. Monitors incognito modes.
- iPhone: MMGuardian acts as the browser, limiting site access. Bark can filter any browser.
- Bark requires kids to actively check-in. Provides directions to their spot. Unreliable in our testing.
- MMGuardian lets parents view location on demand without child involvement. Also offers history and geofencing.
- iPhone: Only MMGuardian provides on-demand location access and history.
- Bark offers screen time scheduling and recommendations but limited enforceable limits.
- MMGuardian provides robust screen time limits, schedules, and app blocking for time management.
- iPhone: Neither can comprehensively limit iPhone screen time due to iOS.
- Bark lacks phone locking capabilities.
- MMGuardian can fully lock down the device with exceptions for parents and emergency contacts.
- iPhone: Locking not available on either platform.
Bark and MMGuardian both offer free trial periods so you can test them out. Their pricing models are:
- Bark: $14/month or $99/year for unlimited devices. Free version with limited functions.
- MMGuardian: $9.99/month or $99.99/year for 5 devices. $4.99/month or $49.99/year for 1 device. 14-day free trial.
The unlimited devices support makes Bark more cost-effective for larger families. MMGuardian is a better value for single device monitoring.
What Parents Are Saying
We’ll take a look at real parent reviews for insights into using Bark and MMGuardian:
“Bark makes me feel more connected to my teen daughters – I’m not spying, but I have peace of mind.”
“MMGuardian’s web filters and time limits have really cut down my son’s obsessive gaming habits.”
“The custom alerts from Bark help me monitor social media safely. I know if anything concerning happens.”
“I like having access to all of my child’s texts with MMGuardian. It allows me to stay fully informed.”
Based on these feature comparisons, here are some key differences to consider:
- For social media safety, Bark offers more extensive monitoring and intelligent alerts. MMGuardian has limited capabilities.
- If you prioritize strict limits, MMGuardian has more robust blocking tools, screen time controls, and anti-tamper protection.
- For multiple kids across devices, Bark’s unlimited monitoring is cost-effective. MMGuardian charges per device.
- If you have specific content concerns, Bark’s custom alerts address issues like predators extremely well.
- For the strictest access controls, MMGuardian allows comprehensive device locking and app blacklisting.
Neither platform can fully monitor iPhones due to Apple restrictions, so Android offers more functionality. But they provide basic protection for iOS. For another top Bark competitor, see how OurPact stacks up against Bark in this comparison: OurPact vs Bark.
Choosing the Right Parental Control App
When deciding between Bark vs MMGuardian, start by making your top priorities clear.
Some key questions to consider:
- How much oversight do you want over your kids’ activities?
- Are you most concerned about social media and messaging safety? Predators? Explicit content?
- Do you need strict blocking capabilities and time limits?
- How many devices and children do you need to monitor?
- What level of access do you require to messages, locations, calls and history?
Once you identify your needs, match them up with the strengths of each platform. MMGuardian excels at strict monitoring with extensive controls. Bark focuses on social monitoring and alerts.
For parents concerned about depression and online relationships, Bark’s alert capabilities deliver advantages. If limits and device access are bigger worries, MMGuardian has more robust restrictions.
Apple device owners face limitations on both services. However, they still offer basic protections for iOS. Android unlocks the full potential of these apps.
Look at the number of kids and devices too. Unlimited plans like Bark make more financial sense for larger families. But MMGuardian works well if you just need to monitor a single phone.
In the end, choosing the right parental control app depends on your specific concerns as a parent. Assess your priorities, weigh the pros and cons, and pick the platform aligned with your family’s needs.
For Bark’s comparison to another top parental control app, Famisafe, check out this detailed face-off: Bark vs Famisafe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Parents often have questions about the specifics of using Bark and MMGuardian. Here are answers to some common FAQs:
What devices are supported?
Both Bark and MMGuardian are available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Bark also supports Chromebooks and allows monitoring on Windows and Mac computers.
What happens if my child tries to uninstall the app?
MMGuardian uses anti-tamper technology to prevent removal on Android. Bark can be uninstalled easily but sends an alert if removed. For iPhones, restrictions must be set to block uninstalls.
Can I recover deleted messages or social media posts?
If enabled before deletion, MMGuardian can recover recently erased texts and posts on Android. Bark does not have this capability. Neither can recover deleted iPhone content.
Do these services violate my child’s privacy?
It depends whom you ask. Many parents feel monitoring protects kids. But children may feel violated if not consulted. Open communication about rules and boundaries is important.
How do I get the most accurate alerts?
Fine tune the sensitivity settings. Higher sensitivity triggers more alerts but can increase false alarms. Start moderate and adjust based on results.
What happens if my child switches phones?
The apps will need reinstalled and configured on the new device. Your settings will carry over after you set up the new phone.
Can I monitor phone calls?
On Android, MMGuardian can block phone calls and provide call history. Neither service can record phone calls. On iPhone, call monitoring is unavailable.
Do these apps impact phone performance?
A little. Bark has minimal impact. MMGuardian’s active monitoring uses more resources. iPhones may be more affected. But apps generally run smoothly.
The Bottom Line
Bark and MMGuardian both offer advantages for parents seeking digital protection and monitoring for their kids. While they take different approaches, each platform has its own strengths.
For social media and messaging safety, Bark’s AI alert system delivers. MMGuardian provides more robust time management and device limit controls.
Think about your family’s specific needs and priorities as you determine which solution fits best. Both apps provide benefits to support parents in keeping kids safe in the digital age.
The most important thing is opening up an ongoing conversation around screen time health, online safety, and digital responsibility. Whichever service you choose, maintaining open communication and setting clear expectations are key to making it work for your family.