FAQ

Questions about how BrightCanary works, from setup to features.
Q.
How does BrightCanary work?
A.
BrightCanary uses advanced technology to inform parents about the content their children engage with online. You don’t have to install anything on your child’s device. Simply download the BrightCanary app on your phone and add your child’s online accounts. BrightCanary monitors your child on text messages, social media, YouTube, and Google, summarizing their activities and alerting you to any concerning content. 
Q.
What services does BrightCanary monitor?
A.
BrightCanary currently monitors your children's activity on YouTube, Google Search, Instagram, TikTok, and text messages. We’ll be adding more services soon!
Q.
How does BrightCanary compare to other services and what does it cost?
A.
Here's a detailed breakdown of exactly what we cover. In comparison to other child safety apps, BrightCanary offers the most comprehensive monitoring for iPhone and Apple devices on the platforms kids are most likely to use: text messages, Instagram, TikTok, Google, and YouTube.
Q.
What does BrightCanary analyze? Text? Video? Images? DMs?
A.
BrightCanary uses advanced artificial intelligence to analyze text, images, videos, comments, and direct messages. Our sophisticated technology summarizes the content your child encounters, so you can learn more about their interests and browsing history. Our app also detects if your child has seen something inappropriate and sends you an alert, so you can talk about it together.
Q.
Is Content Monitoring 100% accurate?
A.
We try hard to make BrightCanary as accurate as possible. We use advanced artificial intelligence systems to classify the images, video, and text your children watch and post. But it's possible those systems could miss something or incorrectly alert you about content that isn’t actually worrisome. While we think BrightCanary is a valuable tool for parents, it's not a replacement for the work of parenting a child.
Q.
What categories of content will BrightCanary alert me about?
A.
BrightCanary uses advanced machine learning systems to evaluate the text, images, and videos your children see and post. Our system alerts you when your child encounters something concerning, such as drug content, adult images, or self-harm content. Our alerts system is still a work in progress, so you may receive some false alerts, but we’re continuously working to improve this. We’d love to hear from you about how it’s working at feedback@brightcanary.io.
Q.
What will my child think about me using BrightCanary for content monitoring?
A.
We designed BrightCanary to encourage ongoing dialogue between parents and kids about their online activities and text messages. Most children are open to using BrightCanary once they understand its purpose and how it works, and some parents choose to make using BrightCanary a condition for their child's device usage. Our approach allows families to tailor the level of supervision to fit their needs, providing more oversight for younger children and gradually increasing independence for older, more mature kids, all under a parent's guidance and support.
Q.
Why should my child have their own account for Google, YouTube, TikTok, etc.?
A.
Some parents allow their kids to share accounts, like watching YouTube videos on the parent’s account. However, as your child gets older, they will want to follow their own favorite creators and even post content of their own. Having their own account makes it easy to use parental monitoring settings and apps like BrightCanary — so you can better guide and protect your child on these services.
Q.
How do I ask my child for their passwords?
A.
To use the BrightCanary app, you need your child’s account passwords. That can feel like a roadblock. First, help your child understand how monitoring is important for their online safety. Then, show your child how BrightCanary alerts parents to concerning content, like bullying. Ask your child to share their passwords with you so you can use BrightCanary to keep them safe. Many parents make monitoring and password sharing a condition for allowing their child to have a device.
Q.
Can I add more than one Google account for each child, or do I need to make a new "child" account for them?
A.
If you want to monitor more than one Google account, you’ll need to add another child profile in BrightCanary. For example, one profile monitors your child’s personal Google account, and the other monitors their school account. You can create as many profiles as you need with your BrightCanary subscription.
Q.
How do I set up text message monitoring?
A.
To set up text message monitoring, you’ll need your child’s Apple ID email and password, as well as your child’s iPhone (or an Apple device where they’re logged in as the primary user). Enter their Apple ID email and password in the BrightCanary app. A sign-in attempt will prompt on your child’s device. Apple may also send a code, known as a two-factor code, or ask for your child’s device passcode (the four- or six-digit code they use to unlock their iPhone or iPad). Enter this when prompted. Then, the BrightCanary app will show you that the device is connected. It may take several hours to begin receiving content. 
Q.
Why do I need to have my child’s device to set up text monitoring?
A.
You need your child's device to authorize the sign-in attempt. This one-time access is required to allow sign-in permissions. Apple may also send a two-factor authentication code to your child’s device during the login process, which you’ll need to type into the BrightCanary app on your phone.  After setup, you won't need access to your child's device for ongoing text monitoring.
Q.
Will my child know I'm monitoring their iMessage or text messages?
A.
After setting up BrightCanary text message monitoring, your child's iCloud account may receive an email from Apple indicating that a device has logged into their account (that’s us). We strongly recommend that parents talk to their kids about how they'll use BrightCanary monitoring. Hiding text monitoring from your child is likely to be viewed as a violation of trust. Instead, encourage open communication and a partnership between you and your child. Make it clear that text monitoring is a condition of your child using their device, and the level of supervision they need will change as they grow older and demonstrate greater responsibility.
Q.
How do I set up a Google/YouTube account to connect with BrightCanary?
A.
Q.
Can I share BrightCanary with my spouse/co-parent?
A.
You can share BrightCanary with your spouse/co-parent (and only pay once) if you have Apple Family Sharing enabled in your iCloud settings. Both of you will need to create separate BrightCanary accounts and log into the platforms you wish to monitor for your child.
Q.
Do I need another subscription for each of my children?
A.
No, one subscription to BrightCanary will cover your whole family.
Q.
Why do I need my child's account login for YouTube, Google, TikTok, etc?
A.
BrightCanary connects directly to your child's account on their favorite online services to analyze what they're reading, viewing, and posting. If you don't have your child's login information, we encourage you to explain to your child why you're using BrightCanary – to help keep them safe on the Internet.
Q.
I got a new phone. Do I need to buy a new subscription?
A.
Nope! Just re-download BrightCanary from the App Store. You may need to re-connect your child’s accounts. If you run into any trouble, please email us at support@brightcanary.io for help.
Q.
Does the BrightCanary app monitor text messages on iPhone and iPad?
A.
Yes. BrightCanary gives you access to text messages your child sends or receives on Apple devices. You’ll be able to read your child’s texts, including deleted texts and group chats. 
Q.
Can I see my child’s contacts?
A.
You can see who is texting your child, but you won’t be able to view their entire contact list. However, if you have Apple Screen Time enabled, you can view, edit, add, or remove your child’s contacts. Here’s how to do it.
Q.
Can I see deleted text messages?
A.
Yes. Deleted text messages will appear in your BrightCanary dashboard within the chat thread, marked as "deleted” — regardless of whether your child or the person they are messaging deletes the text.
Q.
How often are text messages updated?
A.
Text message monitoring is not instant. Our servers collect and update all of your child’s messages several times per day, and we’re working to increase this performance. If you’d like to test it out, set up BrightCanary text monitoring and then text your child. If you haven’t received anything after several hours, reach out to us at support@brightcanary.io
Q.
Does BrightCanary only monitor iPhone messages? Or does it show all iMessage and SMS texts, including from Android phones?
A.
BrightCanary monitors all messages sent to your child through the iMessage system, including texts from other iMessage users and those from Android users.
Q.
I’m not seeing all the text messages my child receives.
A.
Text message monitoring relies on an Apple feature called “Text Message Forwarding.” If you’re not seeing all your child's text messages, you can check this setting on your child’s phone by opening the Settings app, then tapping Messages and Text Message Forwarding. Make sure the BrightCanary server is set to “on.”
Q.
I was receiving my child’s text messages but haven’t seen any in a few days.
A.
Make sure your child hasn’t changed the password for their Apple ID.  In addition, check to make sure they’ve not removed the BrightCanary server from the list of devices with access to their Apple ID information. This list is found by opening Settings on their device, then tapping iCloud (their name) at the top of the screen. Scroll down, and you should see a list of devices with access to their Apple ID, including their iPhone and/or iPad, as well as a BrightCanary server. If you do not see a BrightCanary server in the list, email support@brightcanary.io for help getting things set up again.
Q.
Can I monitor my child’s text messages if they have an Android phone?
A.
Currently, BrightCanary does not support text message monitoring for kids on Android devices.
Q.
Does BrightCanary work if my child uses iOS? Android? A computer?
A.
BrightCanary is only available as an iOS app for iPhone, but your child can use whatever device they use to browse the internet. BrightCanary connects directly from your phone to platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Nothing needs to be installed or maintained on your children's phone, tablet, or computer. Text messages are the only exception: BrightCanary only monitors text messages on Apple devices.
Q.
Does my child know if I’m using BrightCanary?
A.
Your child will receive some notifications during account setup, like sign-in attempt alerts. After that, BrightCanary won’t send any notifications to your child or interfere with their phone use. However, we recommend using BrightCanary in collaboration with your child, maintaining transparency and open communication about safe device use and boundaries.
Q.
Can I see activity from YouTube Kids?
A.
No, BrightCanary is not able to monitor YouTube Kids. YouTube Kids does not store the history of what kids are watching on it, so there is nothing for us to process.
Q.
Will BrightCanary report on incognito mode?
A.
It depends. If your child is using incognito mode while they’re signed into their account (which is unusual), we’ll be able to monitor their activity. If they’re using incognito mode and aren’t signed in, their activity won’t appear in BrightCanary. Remember: BrightCanary doesn’t replace regular check-ins and conversations about online safety.
Q.
Will my child be able to use a VPN to bypass BrightCanary?
A.
Our technology is different from other parental monitoring apps because we're not based on a VPN. We're focused on helping you monitor what your child is doing online and in text messages, so we don't require you to install any software on the child's phone or iPad. Kids can't easily bypass the monitoring we provide, and if they do things like changing account passwords to try and block you, you'll know right away because you won’t see any recent activity.
Q.
What is 2-factor authentication and why does signing into iMessage ask for it?
A.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a secure way for companies like Apple to protect accounts. When attempting to log into an iCloud account, such as connecting your child's iMessage account to BrightCanary, Apple will send a code to your child's iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. You need to enter this code into the BrightCanary app to continue the login process. In addition to your child's iCloud password, this code verifies to Apple that the login attempt is coming from you or your child.
Q.
How does BrightCanary work with Apple Screen Time or Google Family Link?
A.
BrightCanary is a great companion for Apple Screen Time and Google Family Link, and we encourage every parent to consider using those free tools to help maintain a safe and healthy relationship between your child and their favorite apps. BrightCanary goes beyond monitoring which apps and sites they use to monitoring the actual content they're reading, viewing, and posting on their favorite internet sites. Screen Time and Family Link can show you how much time your child spends on YouTube, but BrightCanary can tell you what they were watching and alert you if it's something you should be aware of.
Q.
Help me configure Apple Screen Time on my child's iOS device.
A.
Apple Screen Time is a free tool on iOS and MacOS devices to set up rules on when your child can use apps and websites on their device. It also allows you to block adult-oriented websites from their device. Learn how to set up parental controls on your child’s iPhone.
Q.
Help me configure Google Family Link on my child's Android device.
A.
Google Family Link is a free tool on Android and on ChromeOS devices to set up rules on when your child can use apps and websites on their device. It also allows you to block inappropriate websites from their device. AndroidAuthority has a great tutorial on how to set up Google Family Link for your child.
Q.
Help me configure Microsoft Family Safety for my child’s Windows computer and/or Xbox.
A.
Microsoft Family Safety is a great tool for users of Windows PCs and Xbox that lets parents set up rules on when your child can use apps, websites, and games, and who they can communicate with on Xbox Live.  Here’s Microsoft’s guide to setting up Family Safety.
Q.
Have a question we haven’t answered?
A.
Reach out to us at support@brightcanary.io.
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