Every hand went up. Including mine.
Social Media Is Ravaging Children and Communities, and Parents Need Help—They Need You
The Economist recently published a story about the shocking rise in hospitalizations related to self-harm attempts among girls—a 140 percent increase since 2010. UCLA Health reported 20 percent of young adults have suicidal thoughts, and 9 percent actually act on those thoughts. A few weeks ago, the United States surgeon general issued an advisory about the harm social media poses to young people and their mental health.
If a parent is not technologically capable, figuring out how to monitor social media is a nightmare. Which program or service do you pick? How do you get it installed and working right? How do you not start a war with your children by mucking up their iPhone? A nightmare.
This is where broadband service providers come in. We can solve this problem for parents with Bark on the Calix platform.
Your Brand Can Launch Bark in Days To Help Parents Support Their Children
Bark is the leading social media monitoring tool. It protects 6.8 million children in the U.S. every day. You can read here about their mission and how their CEO’s journey was inspired by learning how scary social media is for children.
With your feedback informing our roadmap, we prioritized integrating Bark into the Calix platform so launching it would require zero engineering work by your teams.
In our case, this was not motivated by profit—in fact, we make very little. We did this because you told us that helping the community is a top priority and helping children is the right thing to do.
Three River Communications and ALLO Launched in Days—Together, We Made It Simple
ALLO Communications was able to launch Bark in days with zero engineering. Why? Because Bark is integrated into the platform. That is the power of our investment—over 12 years and $1.2 billion (and growing)—in developing our end-to-end platform. The Calix platform makes it incredibly simple for you to launch new managed services.
Three River Communications was up and running with Bark in three weeks after the community’s second suicide, because they care. You can read their story in Steven Dorf’s article (“Why Three River Communications Launched Bark in Just 25 Days”) in this issue.
The best thing about Bark is that your team can do good while knowing that this managed service will also have a tangible, positive impact on your business. Here’s why:
Every Calix Employee Gets Bark Free
We believe in this so much that we have made it free to our U.S. employees who have children. Why? Because the health and wellness of our team members is critical.
We are also encouraging them to volunteer in their local community, with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and schools to help other parents help their children.
We are all busy, but you told us this is important. It is heartbreaking to hear the tragic outcomes that can result from the dark side of social media use. In fact, many have told me that this crisis is an issue defining an entire generation of kids.
Together, we can scale Bark and put control back in the hands of parents and caregivers to ensure every child grows up safe and protected.
Wishing you and your communities continued success and wellbeing,
Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
I’ve spent over 30 years getting communities from California to Nebraska connected to fiber broadband. Here in Nebraska, I’ve been leading Three River Communications (Three River) for almost five years. We’ve accomplished a lot in that time, executing fiber overbuilds that enabled us to stay first in line for funding when the CARES Act launched. Along the way, we’ve delivered a lot of value back to our cooperative members.
Connecting Communities Comes With Responsibility
When your job is to connect communities, you assume a great responsibility. Everyone knows how much time kids spend online these days. Social media is constantly changing. Whether personally or through friends or family, we all know kids who have been negatively impacted by the internet. These platforms continue to become more dangerous over time.
Within a single year, two of the towns we serve here in rural Nebraska experienced a teen suicide. These were what I consider to be young teenagers. And while I don’t know that Three River could have prevented these tragedies, I am taking action.
We Worked With Calix To Launch Bark in Three Weeks
Around the time of the second suicide in February of this year, I happened to hear that Calix had partnered with Bark. I spoke with my sales-and-marketing lead about it and we decided deploying Bark was something worthwhile for Three River. Not to make money, but to show that we care about our community. I took the idea to our board, and every one of them agreed.
Launching Bark on the back end was simple and easy. Working with Calix, we got ready to support provisioning and billing for Bark in about three weeks. We’re a 16-person team at Three River, so we appreciate how Calix leans in on everything from strategy to execution. Currently we’re training our customer support reps (CSRs) and field techs to get subscribers up and running on our mobile app so they can use Bark.
Although we’re making Bark available to subscribers at a relatively small markup, we’re also making it available to any kid whose family can’t afford it. It’s too important to let 10 dollars a month get in the way of making sure that kids stay safe. We plan to give anyone access to Bark who needs it, even those who aren’t Three River customers.
By the time school starts again, our goal is to make sure we have at least 100 Bark subscribers in our service area. Here’s how we’re getting the word out in our communities:
We’re Making Bark Available Because It’s the Right Thing To Do
People rely on us not just for a high-speed broadband connection. They also rely on us to make their lives better. Many Three River subscribers have summer homes on the Missouri River, and they rave about how much better the internet service is here than in their homes in Omaha. In our ILEC market, where we’ve been the incumbent phone company since 1955, customers know they’ll speak to a live person when they call us. They can walk into any Three River office and see a friendly face. I see Bark as an extension of that relationship.
As Michael Weening said, digital dangers are an important issue. When these tragedies happened in our community, it wasn’t an open topic of discussion. But we all felt the impact. At Three River, we’ll continue to do everything in our power to protect and nurture the potential of every child in the communities we serve.
If you’re interested in adopting Bark, contact Brandon Miltsch, Bark solution specialist at Calix.
This is the worst homeroom … the only thing that’s going to solve this is a gun.
That’s a real message posted by an eighth-grade kid on Snapchat. The message might have gone totally unnoticed by an adult, but, thankfully, one of that child’s friends on Snapchat had Bark (our social media-monitoring tool) installed on their phone. The child’s mother saw multiple severe alerts arrive from Bark, and immediately contacted the school. Within hours, school administrators met with the kid and their parents to address the issue
Why We Founded Bark: To Ensure Kids’ Privacy While Keeping Them Safe
That’s just one of many stories I hear from Bark users. Our CEO, Brian Bason, is a dad of two and has more than 20 years of experience leading tech and product development as a chief technology officer (CTO). In 2015, he was looking for a way to control content on his oldest son’s phone. Dissatisfied with what was available, he applied his deep expertise in the social media landscape (his previous company was acquired by Twitter) to found Bark. His intention was to introduce a simple, easy-to-use tech solution that would keep kids safe while also ensuring their privacy.
When Brian approached me in 2016 about joining Bark, I jumped at the opportunity. I have a long history of working at the intersection of technology and families. Today, our award-winning dashboard monitors text messages, emails, and more than 30 apps and platforms for potential safety concerns. When digital dangers are detected, the parent receives an automatic alert. This means adults can address issues as soon as they arise, without having to comb through every single online interaction.
Understanding Online Dangers Is a Struggle for Parents
These days, as chief parenting officer (CPO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) of Bark, I spend a lot of time talking to local and national media outlets. When Calix CEO Michael Weening says social media is ravaging the mental health of young people, he’s right. Social media plays a role in alarming trends related to young people and self-harm. In the United States, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among kids ages 15-24. From 2007 to 2018, suicide rates among kids ages 10-24 increased almost 60 percent. A summary of a 2018 study posted by the National Institutes of Health concludes: “Greater time spent online social networking promotes self-harm behavior and suicidal ideation in vulnerable adolescents.”
Many parents today did not grow up using social media. Even if they’re familiar with these platforms, they can’t oversee everything that kids are doing and seeing online. They are not equipped to deal with online dangers like cyberbullying, predators, and suicidal ideation all by themselves. When kids are active online, it’s like they’re on another planet—even if they’re physically in the next room.
And, as we saw from the recent congressional hearings about TikTok, social media companies are failing to take accountability for the effect they have on youth. That means parents are largely left on their own to deal with these challenges.
We’ve Detected 1.4 Million Self-Harm Situations: You Can Amplify Our Impact
This is where broadband service providers like you can play a critical role.
ou’re already a trusted member of your community. Now you can become the first line of defense when it comes to addressing the issue of child online safety. Bark now covers 6.8 million children. To date, we’ve detected 3.2 million severe bullying situations and 1.4 million severe self-harm situations. Through our partnership with Calix, you have a unique opportunity to help us scale this critical solution and keep even more families protected—at home, school, and virtually everywhere in between.
Children today need your help so they can grow up like any child should—feeling supported, loved, and safe. If you have questions or would like to share your stories with me, please connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at Titania@Bark.us. Together, we can work to protect and nurture the potential of every child. By adopting Bark, you can position yourself as a leader in creating a safe environment for kids and set the standard for responsible digital connectivity.
If you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to watch this podcast interview hosted by Mark Vena:
Thirty years’ experience in the cloud industry has taught me one thing: To maximize our technology investments and achieve breakthrough business transformations, we MUST put the customer at the center of everything. It yields the best results every time. Companies that put the customer at the center of everything they do achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues. Customer expectations continue to rise. As disruptive companies leverage advances in cloud, mobile, social, and artificial intelligence technology to deliver personalized, valuable, and immediate experiences, customers will continue to have more and more choices. Our success depends on how we respond to these dynamics.
I joined Calix in March after 16 years at Salesforce defining and leading their customer success function. And that’s what drew me to Calix—the opportunity to deliver disruptive innovation while always putting the customer first. The value you are growing in your community inspires every one of us here at Calix. Your mission helps us exist as a purpose-driven organization. I am energized by what we can do together to help you enrich the lives of the people you serve. help you enrich the lives of the people you serve.
With the Calix Customer Success team, we support your rapid transformation so you can create a legacy of helping rural communities thrive in the digital age. Bark is an excellent example. The mental health risks of social media for our kids are obvious. And you may have seen the recent social media advisory issued by the U.S. surgeon general citing studies that show it poses a “profound risk of harm” to the mental health of young people. Some folks in my organization at Calix already use Bark, and it’s been a real lifeline for them as they navigate the dangerous intersection of kids and social media.
The Calix/Bark partnership is about how we can work with you to rapidly scale a solution to protect families from the dark side of the internet. With Bark, the Calix platform, and the Calix Customer Success army, you can easily launch and deploy Bark in your community. Our job is to make sure you not only adopt but launch and deploy this service. The sooner the better.
Here’s how Calix Customer Success Services helps you get started with Bark:
Bark is a pre-integrated solution for Calix Revenue EDGETM that can be launched in weeks. The average time to market for Bark is eight weeks, but Three River Communications did it in just 25 days. Outstanding! We give your team step-by-step guidance, resources, and tools to ensure alignment across your entire organization.
Leverage marketing resources to accelerate and simplify your go-to-market. With the Calix Market Activation program and Electronic Content Builder (ECB), your team will have customizable materials to leverage for Bark marketing campaigns. You can also use the targeting capabilities in Calix Marketing Cloud (Marketing Cloud) to identify households in your area that would benefit most from Bark. Our Marketing Cloud integrations with Mailchimp and Facebook can further help you drive successful campaigns to drive take rates for Bark.
Use resources in the Calix Community to help your team ramp adoption and partner with schools. My team has developed a playbook full of best practices on how to work with schools, parent-teacher groups, youth clubs, and more to generate awareness around the value of adopting Bark as a tool to combat the dangers of social media.
Bark represents a significant opportunity for you to help your community. Take this path and you’ll continue to be a force for good. And, as Michael Weening pointed out, adopting Bark also makes good business sense. By putting the customer at the heart of your organization, success will follow.
Learn how Calix Customer Success can help your entire organization plan, launch, support, and grow new managed services with confidence. Contact us for a consultation.
At Calix, we coach our leaders to take a holistic approach to managing the people on their team. We understand that if an employee is having a tough time at home, it can be difficult to live up to their fullest potential at work.
Bark is a Great Opportunity To Do Good for Employees
That’s why my team and I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can best support the wellbeing of all employees at Calix. When Calix first partnered with Bark, it was a logical step to make this market-leading app available to any employee with kids at home.
The use of Bark aligns with the Calix values of promoting a safe and inclusive environment. We want to help our employees protect children from the damaging and potentially dire consequences of social media, online predation, and cyberbullying. Offering Bark as a free benefit can contribute to a thriving work culture. When employees feel that their employer genuinely cares about their family's wellbeing, they are more likely to feel comfortable discussing their challenges and problems. This can lead to increased transparency, collaboration, and stronger employee relationships.
By empowering parents with tools to ensure their children's online safety, employees can focus better on their work responsibilities, knowing that their children are protected. This, in turn, can contribute to increased employee efficiency and effectiveness.
Your Employees Need Support To Address the Challenges of a Digital Age
As leaders of broadband businesses, you’re always looking for ways to make an impact on your communities. Just like your subscribers, your employees need ongoing support and resources to thrive—in all areas of life. We encourage you to embrace a proactive approach when it comes to addressing the evolving challenges of the digital age. Making Bark available to your employees for free is a simple but impactful way to make a meaningful difference in their lives.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss how to make Bark available to your employees, contact me at Parul.Kapoor@Calix.com.
Marketing insights that help you leverage data and best practices to reduce churn, grow ARPU, and attract new subscribers.
Insights and best practices to build a proactive, efficient team that delivers an amazing experience and wins subscribers for life.
For broadband operations insights to build and operate your network while providing subscribers a fast and reliable service.