As we continue to advance down the technology highway, more and more apps are being created—more than we parents can keep up with. Unfortunately, many of the inappropriate ones are being downloaded by our children without us knowing about it.
Apps To Watch Out For
How do you know what to look for? Here are a few apps that are considered to be the most dangerous.
Yik Yak – This app is fairly new and already being blocked by schools. It allows posters up to submit up to 200 characters which can be view by their closest 500 “Yakkers,” determined by GPS tracking. It’s gaining the reputation of an app that allows you to anonymously post sexually explicit and abusive language.
Down – This app has a slogan that goes something like, “The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” Connected with Facebook, friends are categorized in either someone they would like to hang around or someone to hook up with. Originally, this app was known as “Bang with Friends.”
Omegle – Using this app, you can video chat with someone else. Although you may remain anonymous, it works by using your Facebook “likes” to match you with someone you don’t know but has similar “likes” as you. Because you are matched with a stranger, there is a high risk that the stranger will be a sexual predator.
Whisper– Just two short years ago, a 12-year-old girl was raped by man she met while using this app. This app is for telling secrets, and although anonymous, it does display the area you are posting from. It’s easy for kids to begin to feel comfortable with a stranger they are confiding in and eventually give out personal information.
KiK Messenger– KiK will also your kids to send messages that you can’t see and verifying the identities of the sender or receiver is very difficult. This is a very popular app for kids under age 18, and it’s also very popular with sexual predators. This app should be deleted from your child’s phone.
How To Find Hidden Apps
There are a couple of ways to identify if your child is hiding their social media apps from you — several of them are apps themselves!
Poof is an app that you definitely need to be familiar with, because it allows teens to make other apps they don’t want you see disappear. Although this particular app is no longer available, your child may still have it and use it. Also, similar apps are created regularly, so it’s a good idea to search online periodically for newer apps with these capabilities and see if your child has downloaded any of them.
Vaulty is an app for Android phones that allows you to create a password-protected ‘Vault” in which media such as photos and videos can be hidden away from the main image gallery. Vaulty will also take a picture of any person who tries to access the Vault with the wrong password.
Hide It Pro is similar to Vaulty, but is available for both Android and iPhone smartphones. It allows you to hide media, and the app itself is disguised as an “Audio Manager” that seemingly controls the volume of the smartphone. However, pressing and holding the app reveals a lock screen behind which users can hide messages, photos, videos, and apps.
This is definitely not a complete list of apps your child may not want you to know about, but it’s a start. If you see an app on your child’s phone that is new to you, google to find out what it does, and if it is safe for your teen to be using.
Other ways to find hidden activity is through unexplained blanks or missing data from their smartphones. According to a recent McAfee study, over 70% of teens have hidden online activity from their parents. 53% achieve this by clearing their browser history, while 34% hide or delete messages, photos, or videos.
If you check your child’s phone and see that they suddenly have no browser history, or there is obviously chunks missing from various text conversations, it’s safe to assume they’re taken steps to hide that from you.
Other red-flag behaviors include…
- Hiding their screen or turning off their device when you enter the room.
- Refusing to hand over their passwords. If they have nothing to hide, there should be no issue.
- A sudden increase in media usage. New apps can be “addictive” and take up a lot of time.
Of course, the best method on how to find hidden apps and determine if your teen is in trouble or using these apps inappropriately is to check their phones regularly. Monitoring their activity with an app like TeenSafe allows you to see deleted messages and social media activity that you might not otherwise know about.
Social media specialist Kristin Peaks recommends, “Look through their apps, texts and pictures. They may feel that you’re invading their privacy, but let’s be honest… You’re paying the phone bill, so you can do whatever you want!”
While monitoring can help you discover if your teen is hiding information from you, the next step is just as important: talking to them. If you discover any of these apps on your child’s phone, don’t overreact. Discuss with them how these apps are being used inappropriately and the consequences. Continue to calmly talk to them about your concerns, and by doing so, your child will feel more comfortable opening up to you when they need to.