//

Big Ideas: “How we can keep our children safe online” with Bark CPO Titania Jordan

Given the fact that the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is around 10.3 years, we are parenting in a (tech) world that has never existed in the history of mankind. As a result, parents are overwhelmed with how to keep their children safer online and in real life while helping them […]

Given the fact that the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is around 10.3 years, we are parenting in a (tech) world that has never existed in the history of mankind. As a result, parents are overwhelmed with how to keep their children safer online and in real life while helping them grow into responsible digital natives. Our technology proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns, like online predators, adult content, sexting, cyberbullying, drug use, suicidal thoughts, and more, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind. Our technology is already having an impact, as in partnership with parents and schools we’ve helped to protect over 2.6 million children across the nation, escalated 16 plausible school shooting threats to the FBI, and detected 10 thousand severe self-harm situations. Bark saves parents from having to manually monitor their child’s activities and respects children’s privacy by only surfacing potential concerns.


Asa part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Titania Jordan, Chief Parenting Officer of Bark. As CPO, Titania drives Bark’s marketing, customer acquisition, and media relations efforts and is an industry-leading source of expertise and advice for the broader community. She has extensive experience at the intersection of families and technology, formerly serving as CMO at KidsLink, co-founder/CMO at Privet, and executive director of Band of Coders Girls Academy. 
Titania holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and enjoys painting and building some pretty sweet LEGO cities with her family in her downtime.


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? 
I went on maternity leave at my corporate job (as an account executive at a major local radio station) fully intending to go back to my cubicle after 12 weeks, and thanks to postpartum depression and social media, never looked back. As I was researching all things motherhood, and craving digital community, I began a new path towards creative communication specifically focused on the intersection of parenting and technology. I jumped headfirst into helping startups speak to their core audience in authentic ways, and ten years and four startups later, still wake up every day thankful that I get to do what I do with the team I do it with. 
 
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career? 
There are many, but one of my favorites involved a national television appearance and a blizzard. I was down at SXSW (wearing a tee shirt, because, Texas in March) when I got a call that CBS This Morning wanted myself and our CEO (Brian Bason, who was in Savannah at the time) to appear that next morning LIVE in NYC. It just so happened that there was a major winter storm heading into the northeast, and we just so happened to get the very last tickets on the very last flight into LaGuardia that night before we were supposed to appear. LaGuardia was a ghost town when we landed, and we were lucky to get a cab into the city. That next morning we appeared LIVE on national television showcasing the work we were doing at ​Bark.us​, and that was a major milestone for our company.

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Our big idea that might change the world is parental peace of mind surrounding their children and technology through the use of Bark. 
 
How do you think this will change the world? 
Given the fact that the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is around 10.3 years, we are parenting in a (tech) world that has never existed in the history of mankind. As a result, parents are overwhelmed with how to keep their children safer online and in real life while helping them grow into responsible digital natives. Our technology proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns, like online predators, adult content, sexting, cyberbullying, drug use, suicidal thoughts, and more, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind. Our technology is already having an impact, as in partnership with parents and schools we’ve helped to protect over 2.6 million children across the nation, escalated 16 plausible school shooting threats to the FBI, and detected 10 thousand severe self-harm situations. Bark saves parents from having to manually monitor their child’s activities and respects children’s privacy by only surfacing potential concerns.

Keeping “​Black Mirror​” and the “​Law of Unintended Consequences​” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about? 
No, I honestly don’t. 
 
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story? 
Our CEO Brian Bason had sold his startup to Twitter and was working there while helping to raise two boys. He researched and found that there was no great way to keep them safer online, so he left Twitter to start Bark.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption? 
Parental education is key. Parents do not realize how prevalent these issues are until it’s too late. Per our 2018 case study​ where we analyzed over 900 million messages across texts, email, social media, and school-issued Google and Microsoft accounts of over 2.6M children ages 8–17:

  • 62.2% of tweens and 70.5% of teens experienced cyberbullying (as a bully, victim, or witness)
  • 1.9% of tweens and 45.6% of teens engaged in conversations about depression and/or anxiety
  • 55.9% of tweens and 72.1% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature
  • 23.1% of tweens and 35.9% of teens were involved with a self-harm/suicidal situation
  • 59.6% of tweens and 75.8% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding illegal drugs/alcohol
  • 56.6% of tweens and 61.6% of teens expressed or encountered violent subject matter/thoughts

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? ​(Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Work-life balance is a myth
     It is Thursday and Valentine’s Day. My 10-year-old has been wanting to play with me​ ​since 3 PM. I told him I just needed a bit to wrap some things up. Two hours, ten emails, and two slack video calls later, I am still not able to play with him because all the things keep dinging and each one is screaming “look at me!” “address me!” I make a concerted effort to focus on work during the week and family on the weekends because the two don’t mix (well).
  2. Men and women are still not equal in the workplace in 2019
     Time after time I observe the differences and inequalities between men and women in the workplace, even in the most enlightened of circles, and it has a great deal to do with how we are wired. I am confident that we will continue to make great strides in the field of equality and diversity in tech, but we are still a very long way away.
  3. You will experience imposter syndrome even after reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandburg 
    The further along you get in your career, the thirstier you will become in your quest to be an efficient and effective leader. The startup life invokes the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, sometimes all within the same hour. Don’t be dismayed, keep working hard and dreaming big.
  4. Take your time hiring the right people
    Hiring the wrong people can cost your company more than a severance package. Overall morale and culture can be greatly impacted, not to mention productivity. Be very intentional about whom you bring into your organization, and prioritize organizational health.
  5. Nothing is more important than your health
     It is very easy to fall into the trap of eating bad, skipping exercise, and staying up later than you intended because there is always one more email you can send or one more item that should be crossed of a to-do list. You (and your company) will be better off if you prioritize your physical and mental health. Do not sacrifice in the short-term what will pay off in the long-term.

The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career? 
Never stop learning. Ever. The second you become complacent and rest on your laurels is day 1 of a downward spiral. 
 
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in? 
I would invest in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and make sure those who need it most have access to adequate mental healthcare.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career? 
The principle of servant leadership (​a philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve) ​guides both my life and career, which are inextricably intertwined. 
 
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”? 
The most important success mindset is a concept called the 4 C’s formula, coined by strategic coach Dan Sullivan. 
 
1. Commitment 
2. Courage 
3. Capability 
4. Confidence 
 
This formula, which I envision as a never-ending circle, compounds exponentially so that each time you go through the flow of 1–4, you can do bigger and better things.

For example, even if you aren’t sure you know how to accomplish a task, if you commit to it, you will often find the courage to figure out how to make it happen. With that courage and time, you will develop the capability to do that same thing, but better and faster next time around. That experience builds confidence, a key component behind any successful person.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? 
You would not let your child ride a bike without wearing a helmet. You would not let them drive a car without a seatbelt and car insurance. You would not let them spend a day at the beach without sunscreen. Don’t let them have a device that can access the world (and vice versa) without Bark, AI technology that runs 24/7/365 in the background and alerts you to signs of cyberbullying, sexting, thoughts of suicide and depression, potential drug use, online predators, and more, along with best next steps for how to address. Learn more at ​https://www.bark.us/​.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Your Kids Want to Connect — Let Tech Be a Tool for Forming Friendships

by Sean Herman
What is the Difference between parenting and digital parenting ?
Community//

What is the Difference Between Parenting and Digital Parenting?

by [email protected]
Community//

You Should Never Cybersnoop on Your Kids

by Alon Shwartz

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.