Giving your kid their first phone can feel overwhelming. Will they talk to predators? Will they end up in a dangerous situation? That’s why it’s so important to stay engaged with what your kids do online — exactly what the BrightCanary parental monitoring app is designed to do. But how does BrightCanary work?
If you’re here, you want to keep your kids safe. BrightCanary provides better monitoring where most kids are facing risks, like Instagram direct messages and YouTube videos. And a growing number of experts recommend monitoring your child’s online accounts, from the American Psychological Association to the U.S. Surgeon General.
In this guide, we’ll share how to set up BrightCanary. Good news: it’s easy and just takes a few steps. Let’s dive in.
BrightCanary monitors your kid’s accounts on Google, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok to help you keep up with what they watch, send, and share.
The BrightCanary app runs on your phone, not your kid’s phone. That means your child can’t easily delete it, and you don’t have to install anything extra on their device.
Once you download BrightCanary from the App Store, you connect the online accounts you want to monitor. (We’ll walk you through how to do that later.) Our app takes care of the rest.
We use advanced AI filters to track what your child is watching, posting, and searching. If your child runs into concerning content like violence, hate speech, or self-ham, we’ll alert you that you need to get involved — so you don’t have to review every message or post yourself.
And unlike other monitoring solutions, you don’t have to plug your child’s phone into your computer or sync with your home WiFi network. BrightCanary simply runs in the background on your iPhone.
We’ve covered how BrightCanary works, but how do you set it up? BrightCanary is designed to monitor your child’s Google, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts (with more to come soon).
First, you’ll need to create your child’s online accounts if you haven’t already done so. It might be easier to let your child share your YouTube account to watch videos, but setting them up with their own account is helpful for a few reasons:
Here’s how to create your child’s profile and add their online accounts.
From the home screen, select “Set up BrightCanary for your family.” Then, follow these steps:
That’s it! If you want to monitor multiple children, you can create multiple profiles by clicking the + button at the top of the screen. And if you don’t know your child’s logins, here’s how to ask your children for their passwords.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how to add your child’s accounts to BrightCanary, divided by platform:
First, see if your child has a Google account or if they need to create one. (If your child has their own YouTube account, use those same credentials to sign into their Google account.)
It’s easier to monitor your child’s activity when they have their own Google account. For example, if they use your account to watch YouTube and you sync it with BrightCanary, our app might flag your activity.
Once you connect your child’s Google account, you’ll be able to monitor what they’re watching and searching on Google and YouTube.
If they already have a Google account:
If you need to set up a Google account:
That’s it! Once you’ve created their Google account, make sure your child uses this information to log into Google and YouTube on their devices.
If you haven’t already, this is a great opportunity to talk to them about how and why you’re using BrightCanary to keep them safe online. A digital device contract can help lay out rules and expectations for both of you.
TikTok is wildly popular among tweens and teens: according to Pew Research Center, 67% of kids are on this social platform. Kids use TikTok for entertainment, messaging friends, and as creative inspiration. You can monitor their videos, posts, and direct messages with BrightCanary.
Pro tip: Set up TikTok Family Pairing to add extra parental controls on your child’s TikTok account, like content filters and time limits.
Sixty-two percent of kids use Instagram for everything from messaging their friends to following their favorite influencers. BrightCanary will show you their Instagram feed, posts, comments, and direct messages.
If your child used their Facebook account to create their Instagram (confusing, we know), tap “Continue with Facebook” instead. Enter their login information when prompted.
Once you’ve added your child’s accounts, BrightCanary’s dashboard will populate with an overview of their online activity. From your dashboard, you’ll be able to view information like how many videos they’ve recently watched and top keywords searched.
Activity reports give you a detailed overview of activity in individual accounts, like Google or Instagram. Tap an account in your dashboard to view.
For example, if you tap into YouTube, you’ll see an overview of what your child has recently watched and searched.
If you specifically want to review concerning content, just tap the “Concerning” tab. BrightCanary will flag content with tags. For instance, “viewed image” means your child opened an image with inappropriate material.
You can customize what alerts you receive and how often BrightCanary alerts you. Here’s how:
Once you’ve tracked down your child’s passwords, keep them somewhere safe. Our Password Vault is designed to store your child’s login information in one secure location. To access the Password Vault, tap “More” and then tap “Password Vault.”
And if you’re looking for answers to your toughest questions about parenting in the digital age, we’ve got you covered. Our Ask the Canary AI chatbot is designed to give you helpful conversation-starters, advice, and resources, directly from your phone. It’s an anonymous service that you can use any time — just tap “More” and then “Ask the Canary.”
Parenting in the digital age can feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, parental monitoring apps like BrightCanary are tools you can add to your parenting toolbox. Remember, parental monitoring is just one piece of the puzzle — it’s just as important to have regular conversations with your child about their online activity and how to handle what they see online.
For more parenting tips, here’s how to help your child use social media responsibly. Subscribe to our parenting newsletter for weekly advice, news, and resources.