Parents, you need to face it: no matter how hard you try to track child or keep them from looking at inappropriate content on the internet, your child will likely find a way to get around your controls. Technology is robust and there are many ways to evade a watchful eye.
Gone are the days in which kids would try to sneak off and use the shared family phone during the night, or when they would have to find ways to buy inappropriate magazines or video games. Now, the internet holds access to nearly anything. Age inappropriate websites, games and videos are always a few clicks away. Furthermore, kids have become even smarter and more crafty when hiding restricted technology usage. Lucky for you, the team at KidGuard has compiled a guide to inform you of many of the most common ways that kids and teens sneak around parental tech controls so that you can be aware of what’s going on.
Incognito Mode/Private Browsing
One of the most common ways that parents can keep track of their child’s internet usage is through browser search history. However, kids can very easily get around this by using private or incognito browsing modes that are built into internet browsers; these modes do not record search history or site cookies that would ordinarily leave a trace of recent internet history.
Parents, you can see for yourself how these browsing modes work by clicking on the options or controls drop down tabs in most browsers and then selecting incognito or private browsing.
Luckily for parents, there are solutions to this! Private browsing modes do not hide the internet history on the back end of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Try contacting your ISP and requesting to view your entire internet usage in order to see what goes on behind the veil of private browsing modes. Additionally, if you’re tech savvy or feeling brave, check out this guide that shows you how to disable Incognito in Google Chrome, a very popular internet browser.
Snapchat or Other Messaging Services
If you’re a parent of a child with a phone, you’ve probably already heard about Snapchat. The messaging app that launched in 2011 has become ubiquitous throughout society, it’s popularity driven by trends and the need to fit in to popular movements. The messaging and social media app offers the ability to send images that expire or self destruct after a specified amount of time, ranging from one to ten seconds. Also, the platform offers video chatting, voice phone calls, image sharing, group chats, and text based messaging. Additionally, the app now offers a feature in which popular community figures, news outlets, and popular social media accounts can post ‘Stories’ which are short videos or images that can be viewed by all Snapchat users. While Snapchat does not allow nudity or pornography, some of this public content is sexual in nature and is not appropriate for younger audiences.
The ability for messages to disappear or self destruct after a short period of time makes Snapchat worrisome for parents. While Snapchat has records of all content sent within their app, it is impossible to retrieve an image or text after it has expired. Thus, unfortunately for parents, there aren’t many solutions to knowing what goes on in their child’s Snapchat. The best way to control what your child does on the app is to establish trust and faith in your child’s behavior and usage of the app and to maintain an open dialogue with your child.
In addition to Snapchat, there are other services and apps that offer messaging and photo sharing. Be aware of apps such as Kik, Whatsapp, or Line, which all offer dedicated messaging services. Also, popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all offer direct or private messages in which users can send messages and communicate with one another. When tracking who someone is talking to, make sure to keep an eye out for these apps as well.
Secret Picture Apps or ‘Photo Vaults’
A common way that kids and teenagers try to hide secret photos or documents on their mobile devices is through secret picture apps or ‘Photo Vaults’. These apps allow you to upload pictures or documents that are locked behind a password in order to access them. These apps are available for free or for a small fee on app stores.
Beyond standard photo vault apps, there are other varieties that disguise the photo vault behind a faux calculator app that appears ordinary. The app icon and initial interface is that of a normal calculator app. However, when a passcode is typed into the calculator, the app changes and opens an interface to view and upload hidden photos. These are rather deceptive as to the unassuming eye they appear just like a standard calculator app.
Aside from obvious concerns, photo vault apps are dangerous because these private photos are being uploaded to a server somewhere in the internet. The creator of this app, or anyone who has access to the server, can access these uploaded photos. Thus, the photos in this app are not truly private. While it may seem like only the user has access to the app, their pictures and privacy are at risk as the photos can be accessed by unknown users.
See an example of these Photo Vaults here.
KidGuard – A Popular Solution
To protect your children and track their mobile phone activity, KidGuard is the solution. Start your 10 Day Free Trial and try out a Free Demo here.
Parenting is hard. Kids are unpredictable and parents have always struggled with monitoring their children and making sure that they stay safe and away from inappropriate activities. With these tools and awareness, parents can better navigate, manage, and track their child’s digital consumption.