Bark Premium vs. Bark Jr: Which app is best?

For many parents of digital-savvy kids, a parental control app is a must-have. Bark is one of the most popular options around, giving you intelligent monitoring capabilities and algorithm-powered alerts while still allowing your kids the privacy they deserve. Unlike some services in this category, Bark is also unique in that they offer tips and guidance on how to address certain alerts with your child in a calm, compassionate way. 

The company has two apps, Bark Premium and Bark Jr., alongside the Bark Phone and Bark Home, a website filtering device that you can connect directly to your Wi-Fi router. Whether you choose Bark Premium or the more-affordable Bark Jr., you're getting an app that will keep your kids safer in the digital age. But how do the two parental control apps compare? Let's break it down. 

Bark Parental Controls: Starting at $5/month

Bark Parental Controls: Starting at $5/month

The perfect assistant for raising kids in the digital age, the Bark app starts at just $5 per month and comes with customizable website filters, location alerts, and a screen time manager. Pay a little extra for Bark Premium and you'll also get the ability to monitor activity on over 30 popular apps, plus algorithm-powered alerts to keep your kid safe. 

If you simply can't choose between the two versions, both Jr. and Premium offer a 7-day free trial that lets you explore the app without any commitment. 

Bark Premium vs. Bark Jr: What's the difference? 

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As we mentioned above, parents can use the Bark app in two forms: Bark Premium and Bark Jr. Both versions of the program allow users to manage their kids' screen time, filter websites, and set location alerts, while Bark Premium offers a more comprehensive experience with text, email, and app monitoring. 

The app monitoring feature is powered by intelligent machine learning that's capable of detecting suspect keywords and analyzing them within the context that they're used. For example, a text conversation in which your kid is joking around with a friend won't be interpreted as cyber-bullying unless the algorithm detects something problematic in context. This goes way beyond the simple keyword alerts produced by some monitoring software. 

In other words, you don't get full access to everything on your child's phone, which is a good thing for two reasons. One, it gives your kid some privacy and agency over their device usage (which is an important responsibility to learn nowadays), and two, you don't have to scroll through endless walls of text or browsing history to find potentially problematic content. Bark does the work for you, and they do it well. 

Bark Jr., on the other hand, is a much simpler app. You get the ability to manage your kid's screen time so they aren't spending all day on their phones, with customizable screen schedules and rules that can be adjusted at any time. You can also personalize location alerts so you can make sure they arrive at their planned destinations safely. Just like Premium, Bark Jr. also lets you block or allow specific websites or content based on 18 different categories. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Bark PremiumBark Jr.
Manage screen time✔️✔️
Location alerts✔️✔️
Website filters✔️✔️
Data security and privacy✔️✔️
Text, email, and app monitoring✔️
Problematic activity alerts✔️

Bark Phone / Galaxy A13

(Image credit: Bark)

Bark Premium vs. Bark Jr: The Bark phone

Despite many claims to the contrary, Bark isn't really that different from its competitors. Most parental control apps can help keep your kids safe as they traverse the digital landscape, and a lot of them do it quite well. One thing that sets Bark apart from most other companies, however, is the Bark Phone. 

This is essentially a Samsung Galaxy A13 with Bark Premium pre-installed. With three plan options that start at $49 per month, you get the AI-powered contextual analysis and comprehensive monitoring capabilities of Bark Premium, plus T-Mobile-powered wireless service and one of the best cheap Android phones that money can buy. That last fact will be appreciated by your kid as well, as the phone is no slouch when it comes to quality features — the A13 boasts an efficient Qualcomm processor, a large battery, and an impressive 50MP camera. Plus, with its sleek design, the A13 doesn't look like a clunky kids phone. No one will know it's a Bark Phone unless your kid wants them to. 

When you buy your Bark Phone, there are three data plan options: Wi-Fi only for $49/month, 4GB for $59/month, and 8GB for $69/month. All three plans come with unlimited talk and text. Of course, the phone may not make sense for every household's wireless setup, but we called it "one of the best kids phones" in our recent Bark Phone feature

Bark Premium vs. Bark Jr: Which is right for your family?

Bark Premium and Bark Jr are both great options if you'd like a little more insight into your kid's digital life. Every child is different and not all families will need the comprehensive monitoring tools provided by Bark Premium, but if you want options, $14 per month is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Alternatively, if your kid is due to receive their first phone and you're interested in the Premium app, you can pick up the Bark Phone instead of paying to add a new line to your existing wireless service. 

If you're still on the fence about the two versions of Bark, don't forget that both Bark Jr. and Premium offer 7-day free trials so you can try them both before committing. Just don't forget to cancel your subscription before the week is over, otherwise you might get charged for a month. 

Bark Parental Controls: Starting at $5/month

Bark Parental Controls: Starting at $5/month

Bark helps your kid stay safe in the digital age without totally taking away their freedom, thanks to highly-customizable screen management tools, website filters, and an AI-powered alert system. The app starts at $5/month for Bark Jr and $14/month for Bark Premium, or you can save up to 42% by paying for a year in advance. 

Patrick Farmer
eCommerce Editor

After almost a decade of working in the e-commerce space, Patrick Farmer (he/him) began his career at Android Central as a Deals and Commerce Writer before moving into a new role as AC's eCommerce Editor in 2023. When he's not hunting down the best deals and offering shopping advice for our readers, you'll often find him listening to music, camping out at a brewery, or treating his cat like a human child.