Bark, a social media parental monitoring app, saw a 25% increase in alerts related to self-harm and suicide among 12-18-year-olds in 2021, according to a study released Friday.
The app, which alerts parents when it “detectes potential problems” with children’s texting and app activity, analyzed more than 3.4 million messages across texts, emails and social media platforms in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of children beyond the US to spend hours on Internet every day.
“In recent congressional hearings, we’ve seen a significant need for transparency around data, particularly when it comes to minors and harmful content/people,” Bark Chief Parent Officer and CEO Titania Jordan told FOX Business in a statement.
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“We’ve delivered what we can in hopes of protecting more kids. It’s time for other tech companies to do the same. It’s also time for big tech to let users truly own their data – rather than completely preventing parents from keeping their children’s data safer. Online “.
In her survey of messages and social media activity, Park found that more than 43% of young teens and nearly 75% of teens have engaged in conversations or situations involving self-harm or suicide. Park did not specify the age group between “teenage girls” and “teenage girls” in the report.
Early estimates for 2020 show more than 6,600 suicide deaths among American youth, ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Emergency room visits for suicide attempts have increased among teenage girls in particular 51% During the pandemic, emergency room visits among teenage boys increased by 4% over the same time period, Center for Disease Control data appears.
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“Given that suicide is the second leading cause of child death in this nation, this is an alarming trend, and we need to do more for our children (and faster),” Jordan said.
Park found that worry alerts were often sent to 15-year-olds. In addition, 32% of young adults and 56% of teens participated in conversations about depression.
About 25% of teens ages 13 to 18 suffer from anxiety, according to the American Anxiety and Depression Association. Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada found that one in four children globally have experienced depression during the pandemic.
The vast majority of young teens (72%) and tweens (85%) alike have either witnessed or experienced cyberbullying, otherwise known as cyberbullying. The CDC found in 2019 that about one in four minors engaged in cyberbullying.
While alcohol use declined in 2020 and declined further in 2021, more than 75% of young teens and 93% of teens engaged in conversations about drugs and/or alcohol, Park found.
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Jordan noted that children use Snapchat to purchase medications that sometimes contain harmful substances such as fentanyl.
“The unfortunate and preventable deaths that have occurred as a result, we need to focus on tangible improvements there as quickly as possible. Children should not be able to reach drug dealers through a social media application,” she said.
Nearly seven in 10 teens and about nine in 10 teens have encountered “nudity or content of a sexual nature” in their texts or on apps, according to the monitoring app. Additionally, 10% of young teens and 20% of teens have experienced aggressive online behavior.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recorded a 95.7% increase in reports of online seduction in 2021 compared to 2020.
The apps that Bark ranked among the worst for dangerous sexual content, in order, were the messaging app KiK; Blogging app Tumblr, which recently added a sensitive content filter; Houseparty’s face-to-face conversation app; Discord communication application; Google Dropbox cloud storage application.
“Given that approximately 10% of teens and 20% of teens have encountered predatory behaviors from someone online, according to our data, we have to do more to protect our children from sexual abuse, whether it happens in real life or in real life,” Jordan said. “The ways in which a child can be abused online is rapidly bypassing existing safeguards to prevent such abuse.”
Jordan called on social media companies and tech giants like Google and Apple to “turn a blind eye to this abuse and make ads that lead people to believe that their new regulations will actually solve these problems.”
“Unfortunately, they have not demonstrated the ability or desire to adequately self-regulate, so parents and lawmakers need to escalate the matter and stop this,” she said. “We are still at a point where minors are showing child sexual abuse content – which includes them – on major platforms, and those platforms refuse to remove it unless they are pressured by law enforcement.”
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Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s google browser Promoted parental controls as a way for parents to monitor their children’s use of technology. Google offers parental control called Family Link that allows parents to manage kids’ apps and screen time.
“We are committed to providing our users with powerful tools to manage their iOS devices and are always working to improve them,” an Apple spokeswoman previously told FOX Business.