There are endless apps available that offer services you probably don’t want your kid accessing, or maybe only let them access while monitoring their use. Other types of apps that spell trouble are ‘vault’ apps, which are used to disguise online behavior such as viewing, sending, or receiving inappropriate content.
What do you need to watch out for? Use this as a guide for understanding apps to that may be dangerous or signal that your child is intentionally hiding something.
High-Risk Apps to Watch Out For
This is a popular app among teenagers, with reports that almost half of teens that have online access also have a Snapchat account. While the app can be used harmlessly to quickly exchange pictures and messages with friends, it also has the potential to be used in dangerous ways.
One of the biggest differences between Snapchat and other apps is that it boasts pictures, videos, and messages delete themselves within a few seconds of the recipient viewing them. However, this isn’t always the case; technology easily allows others to capture screen shots, meaning that using the app isn’t as ‘private’ as most people would think.
There is also, “a legitimate concern that Snapchat could be used for “sexting” – sending sexually suggestive pictures or even nude pictures” Sexting in itself is dangerous, but the added capability for those pictures to leak out to other audiences screams bad news! Poke, an app run by Facebook, is another one to keep your eye out for, as it has features closely resembling Snapchat.
If you notice that your child has installed the Kik app on their phone, you should think about having an immediate conversation with them or removing it yourself.
Online predators hang out on Kik, disguising themselves as teens and try to lure kids into sending inappropriate content; simply put, Kik gives online predators an avoidable ‘in’ to victimizing your child. It has been reported by many parents that their teens received unsolicited sexual messages within hours of installing the app.
Similar to Kik, if you see Tinder installed on your teen’s device you should be alarmed. It’s most commonly used for adults to find one-night stands (and occasionally relationships.)
While Tinder has a policy that doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to use their site, many teens are simply lying about their age; it was reported that in 2014, 7% of users were between the ages of 13 and 17. Not only do teens lie about their age on the platform, but sexual predators may also be online scouting out profiles with younger looking photos for teens that are using the app.
This app could potentially have legitimate uses for kids, as it is meant to help others find out more about their friends in a question and answer format. However, the app allows users to ask questions anonymously. “Some kids have used the app for hurtful cyberbullying that has been linked to suicides, including the death of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Florida.”
Use your best discretion when deciding whether or not to let your child use this app. If you notice that it’s installed on your kid’s phone, you may want to at the very least have a conversation about it.
Vault Apps Signaling They Are Hiding Something
Calculator% may look like a harmless app on your kid’s phone that they are simply using to help them with math class. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
This app, available for Apple devices, looks like a calculator upon opening it; a password is chosen and when entered, access is granted to hidden files. If you see this app on your kid’s phone, you can almost be guaranteed they are hiding something serious from you.
Vault-Hide SMS, Pics & Videos
Uncovering whether your child has installed this app on their phone may require a bit more digging because it offers a stealth mode. Currently available for Android devices, this app allows the user to remove the icon from their home screen, although it is still visible in their settings under applications.
Similar to other vault apps, it allows you to store hidden photos that are password protected. However, this app also has features that allow you to open a private browser and put a lock on other apps on your device.
Hide it Pro-Hide Photos, Hide Videos, Pics
Available for both Android and Apple devices, this app is disguised as an audio manager. Instead of managing music files, it is actually used to hide apps, pictures, videos, and messages.
To access the files, you have the hold down the app for a few seconds and it will ask for a password. Unless you can guess the password, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to access the files but you will at least know that there is something going on with your kid that you need to figure out.
It may difficult at first to discover that your child has installed some of the apps mentioned on this list, particularly the ones that are used to hide content. While this discovery may be shocking, at you have taken the first step by identifying there is a problem.
If you’ve noticed that your kid is using popular apps like Snapchat that can be harmless but have the potential to cause harm, you may want to consider signing up for a child monitoring service such as KidGuard to be able to keep an eye on the way they use these apps. This may also be a way to let your child rebuild your trust if you’ve discovered they’ve been using a vault app.
Links to Apps
Snapchat: Apple / Android
Kik: Apple / Android
Tinder: Apple / Android
Ask.fm: Apple / Android
Vault-Hide SMS, Pics & Videos: Android
Hide it Pro-Hide Photos, Hide Videos, Pics: Apple / Android
Abney, Stephanie. “10 things parents and kids should know about the Snapchat app.” FamilyShare. Accessed January 21, 2017
“All parent member reviews for Kik Messenger.” Common Sense Media. Last modified March 24, 2013.
Lenhart, Amanda. “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.” Pew Research Center. Last modified April 9, 2015.
Mosbergen, Dominique. “Underage Teens Are Using Hookup App Tinder: Should parents Be Worried?” Huffington Post. Last modified April 23, 2014.
“Safety Beyond Facebook: 12 Social Media Apps Every Parents Should Know About,” Family Education, accessed January 21, 2017.
 Amanda Lenhart, “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015,” Pew Research Center, last modified April 9, 2015.
 Stephanie Abney, “10 things parents and kids should know about the Snapchat app,” FamilyShare, accessed January 21, 2017.
 “All parent member reviews for Kik Messenger,” Common Sense Media, last modified March 24, 2013.
 Dominique Mosbergen, “Underage Teens Are Using Hookup App Tinder: Should parents Be Worried?,” Huffington Post, last modified April 23, 2014.
 “Safety Beyond Facebook: 12 Social Media Apps Every Parents Should Know About,” Family Education, accessed January 21, 2017.