Parental control apps like Bark and mSpy allow parents to monitor their child’s online activities, but which one is the best option? This in-depth comparison of bark vs mspy looks at how each app works, features, pricing, and more to help you decide which parental monitoring software is right for your family.
With concerns over screen time, cyberbullying, and online safety growing, it’s no wonder why many parents are turning to parental control apps. These apps can give you more insight into your child’s digital life and online behaviors, helping you keep them safe. But with so many options out there, it can be tricky to pick the right one.
In this Bark app vs mSpy face-off, we’ll break down how these two leading monitoring apps stack up against each other. Whether you have an Android or iOS device you want to monitor, this guide will outline the key similarities and differences so you can determine if Bark or mSpy better meets your family’s needs. Let’s dive in!
How Does Bark Work?
Bark is a parental control app that scans texts, emails, YouTube, and 24 different social media platforms for potential issues. Using AI and machine learning, Bark detects and alerts parents about concerns like cyberbullying, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more.
When Bark detects a potential issue, it sends custom alerts to parents with expert recommendations from child psychologists on how to address the situation. Bark’s approach is to monitor concerning activity while also educating both parents and kids on digital safety and wellbeing.
Some key features of Bark include:
- Monitoring texts, emails, YouTube, and social media for troubling content
- Alerts for signs of cyberbullying, depression, threats, etc.
- Screen time limits and scheduling
- Web filtering for blocking inappropriate sites
- Location tracking
- Customizable alerts and monitoring settings
Bark offers a 7-day free trial of their premium services. After the trial, their monthly plans range from $9 for monitoring one device to $99 for an unlimited family plan.
How Does mSpy Work?
mSpy is a hidden tracking app that allows parents to secretly monitor multiple aspects of their child’s online activity. Once installed on a phone or tablet, mSpy records texts, calls, websites visited, app use, location history and more, sending the information back to the mSpy server where parents can access it.
Some key features of mSpy include:
- Text message monitoring
- Call and ambient recording
- Email and social media monitoring
- GPS location tracking
- Keyword alerts
- Time schedules for screen time
- Accessing photos, videos and files
One thing that sets mSpy apart from Bark is that it must be installed directly onto the target device you want to monitor. Bark works by simply having access to a child’s various accounts. mSpy requires more hands-on access to the phone itself.
mSpy does offer a free trial, but it only includes limited features. Their paid plans range from $70 a month for monitoring one device up to $200 a month for monitoring 5 devices simultaneously.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how each app works, let’s dive deeper into comparing their features, capabilities and more.
Bark vs mSpy: Key Feature Comparison
Which app has better monitoring capabilities?
One major difference between mSpy and Bark is what each app can monitor. Bark focuses solely on texts, emails and 24 social media platforms. With Bark, parents don’t have access to phone calls, browsing history, photos/videos, etc.
mSpy offers more robust monitoring including texts, calls, GPS location, photos, videos, app usage, websites visited and keystroke logging. However, mSpy’s social media monitoring is limited to the major platforms and doesn’t scan as deeply for concerning content.
So mSpy provides wider surveillance capabilities, while Bark offers deeper monitoring of communication channels for signs of issues like cyberbullying.
Which app is better at protecting privacy?
When it comes to protecting user privacy, Bark has the advantage. Bark avoids recording any private communication or content. The app scans for concerning keywords and patterns, but does not record or store any texts, chats, emails, etc. This allows kids to maintain some level of privacy.
mSpy does record and log private communication like text messages and emails. Some parents are comfortable with this level of surveillance, while others may find it invasive or problematic if the child’s personal conversations are stored.
How accurate are the alert systems?
The accuracy of Bark’s alerts is one of its biggest strengths according to many user reviews. Bark uses advanced machine learning and natural language processing to detect concerns with nuance, greatly minimizing false alerts. Parents get custom recommendations specific to each situation as well.
Some mSpy users report frustrations with getting flooded by false alerts or finding the alerts lack helpful context. However, mSpy does allow setting up highly customized alerts based on keywords, sites, locations and more. Advanced users can fine tune alerts for accuracy.
What phone platforms are supported?
One advantage both mSpy and Bark share is supporting both iPhoe and Android devices. Many parental control apps are limited to just one platform, so the ability to monitor both in a single account is convenient for multi-child families.
Bark offers the same functionality across Android and iOS. With mSpy, some features like call recording and ambient environment monitoring are limited to Android only. But key features like location tracking, text monitoring and screen time management work on both platforms.
How is location tracking handled?
Both apps provide GPS location tracking to see where a child is throughout the day.
Bark allows setting up designated “zones” and then getting alerts when your child leaves or enters those locations. This helps keep tabs on kids while giving them some independence.
mSpy records location history in a log so parents can retrace routes and see everywhere a child went during a given timeframe. Advanced options allow setting up location-based alerts too.
So mSpy provides more detailed tracking, while Bark focuses location monitoring into customized zones.
mSpy vs Bark: Pricing and Plans Compared
One of the biggest differences between Bark and mSpy is their pricing structure and plan options.
Bark offers two main premium plans:
- Bark Jr (For ages 5-11) – $9/month or $99/year – Monitor text messages, YouTube, email, and 24 social media platforms on one device.
- Bark Premium (For ages 12+) – $14/month or $149/year – Same features as Jr, but with alerts customized for teens. Add additional devices for $5 per month each.
- Family Premium Plan – $19/month – Monitor unlimited devices for the whole family
- Unlimited Premium Plan – $99/month – Ultimate unlimited plan with additional screening time and expert consultations.
Bark also offers discounted multi-year plans if you prepay for 2 or 3 years upfront. And students, military families, and non-profits can get discounted rates.
mSpy has four subscription plans:
- Basic – $29.99/month – Monitoring for one device with features like location tracking, text and call logs, keyword alerts and web monitoring.
- Premium – $69.99/month – Adds monitoring for social media apps, remote photo viewing, and app/website blocking.
- Family Kit – $199.99/month – Track up to 3 devices and enables advanced features like call & ambient recording and camera access.
- Multi-Device Plans – For 4, 5, and 10 device monitoring. Price ranges from $149.99 to $999.99 monthly.
While Bark offers some nice family package deals, mSpy can get quite expensive for larger families with its multi-device plans. But mSpy does offer more flexibility if you want to add on advanced monitoring features.
Key Pros and Cons of Bark and mSpy
- Specializes in social media monitoring and alerts
- Emphasis on child education and addressing concerns constructively
- Minimal impact on privacy with no recording/logging of messages
- More affordable family plans
- Limited capabilities beyond social media, text & email
- Requires giving app your child’s account passwords
- Fewer features than mSpy
- Broader range of monitoring capabilities
- Advanced features like keystroke logging
- Can be installed secretly on child’s device
- Very customizable alert triggers
- Potentially invasive level of surveillance
- No specific expertise in social media safety
- Potential security risks with app installation
- More expensive family packages
Which Parental Control App is Right For Your Family?
The decision between choosing Bark or mSpy comes down to your family’s specific needs and priorities:
- If social media safety is your top concern – Bark provides the most robust social media monitoring and alert system.
- If you want wider surveillance capabilities – mSpy offers more monitoring features beyond social media.
- If you desire maximum oversight – mSpy lets you covertly see virtually all activity on your child’s device.
- If you prioritize constructive approaches – Bark is designed to provide teachable moments and helpful expertise.
- If you have a larger family to monitor – Bark’s family plan pricing can offer savings compared to mSpy.
Take some time to consider your family’s situation and what’s most important to you in a parental control app. Both Bark and mSpy allow one week free trials – so you can test them out firsthand before committing.
Key Takeaways on Bark vs mSpy
- Bark specializes in social media monitoring and alerts, while mSpy offers more robust device surveillance
- Bark has a more constructive approach focused on education, while mSpy is solely focused on monitoring
- Bark scans for concerning content but doesn’t record private communication; mSpy records texts, calls, location history, etc.
- mSpy must be directly installed on each device; Bark works by linking to child’s accounts
- Bark pricing tends to be more family friendly; mSpy has pricier plans but more flexibility
- Trying free trials of both apps can help you determine the right pick for your needs
Whichever parental control app you choose, any step to gain more insight into your child’s digital life is a step in the right direction. Just make sure you’re also having open conversations about online safety. Combined with reasonable monitoring, communication and trust go hand in hand in raising digital citizens.