I want to trust that my daughter, currently an innocent 11 year old, will always come to me and tell me what is going on with her. I’m not yet uncool enough to be left out of the drama that sometimes unfolds on the school playground, and she currently doesn’t have a phone. So, so far, so good.
But I was a preteen and teenager once. And I hid things from my parents, like teens do. It was just… harder, in the 90s, to hide things in plain sight the ways kids can on their phones and ipads these days.
A few days ago, a friend with slightly older kids texted me and said “Have you heard about this Calculator+ app? If I ever find it on my daughter’s phone she won’t be allowed out of the house until she’s 35.” I knew I needed to start digging now so that I would be prepared for the sneaky apps my kids might use to hide photos, message, apps and more when we finally buy them phones.
5 Sneaky Apps Your Kids Might Be Using
Calculator+: This app looks innocent enough on your tween’s home screen. A calculator! You might pass right this app and assume your child is using this to help with math homework. This innocent-looking app, however, is used by tweens and teens to hide photos from mom and dad. How scary is that?
Calculator Vault: Look! Another innocent calculator app. Your child must really, really like learning math! This app is passcoded and allows users to not only hide photos but other apps, as well. If your child has told you she doesn’t have a SnapChat or Instagram account and gives you proof by showing you her phone is missing the required app, make sure she isn’t hiding her account here.
AppLock: You. Guys. This app literally markets to kids by saying “Never worry about parents checking your Snapchat, TikTok!” This makes my blood boil! This app doesn’t necessarily look innocent on your kid’s phone the way an extra calculator app might, but it locks apps so that they can’t be accessed without a passcode. Definitely be on the lookout for this one.
Hide It Pro: This app uses a pair of music notes to throw you off the scent. It may look like an “audio manager app” at first glance, but it is another way for tweens and teens to hide photos from parents. You actually have to keep your finger pressed on this app for longer than normal to access hidden files- if you just press it briefly it will actually appear to control the phone’s audio.
KeepSafe: KeepSafe is another photo app vault, and it won’t show up in your teen’s recently used apps if you are doing a quick phone inspection. It also allows users to privately send photos to others, even if the recipient doesn’t have the KeepSafe app.
The rabbit hole you can go down when searching for apps that hide things- photos, apps, files- from prying eyes is alarming. There are literally dozens, possibly hundreds. There are plenty of tutorials online explaining how to do an extensive search of your child’s phone, should the need arise.
My best advice, after reading too many articles detailing sneaky behavior with apps, is to question the obvious on your child’s phone. Two calculator apps is one too many. An app you’ve never heard of or don’t remember approving is probably cause for alarm. It’s tough, parenting in the tech era, but, armed with the right knowledge, it is possible to keep our kids safe online.
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