There is an app for almost everything these days. A phone app to remind you where you have parked your car, an app that tells you the quickest route to the cinema, an app that will provide you with motivational pictures for a workout.
There are apps which make you shake your head in disbelief, as well as inspire some fear, especially in parents. Younger generations are way ahead of parents when it comes to digital literacy. Many parents rightly moan about the lack of practical skills of the young, however, there is no denying the youth of today are growing up immersed in a digital world. These skills have led to a world where teens are better than ever at keeping secrets.
Apps that give users the ability to hide photo’s, text messages, videos and even other apps that might not meet parental approval are growing in popularity. The process is straight forward with websites such as WikiHow and Mashable having guides to help users hide online activity.
Some apps are very clever, while helping to hide or protect some content, the apps manage themselves to go unnoticed most of the time. Examples include Hide It Pro, which disguises itself on mobiles as an “Audio Manager”, even after opening the app, it’s true intention is still hidden. It shows up as a false app that helps to control the volume level of the phone. However, after holding the title bar down, it will ask for a password to unlock all of the user’s hidden content.
Another App, KYMS (Keep your media safe), disguises itself as a working calculator app. By entering your password, the app allows you to unlock your hidden content. It even has a feature to protect from nosy parents. After a password is entered wrongly three times, the app secretly take a picture of the person trying to gain access and log the GPS location of the phone at the time of the photo. This feature is common to hiding many apps. Other apps like Vaulty and Private Photo Vault serve similar purposes.
So Why Are Teens Using These Apps?
In Colorado, a large number of high and middle school students were found using apps to hide hundreds of shared nude photo’s. No students were charged, but it still left the school and city shocked and wandering how to deal with the digital technology.
With advances in technology and connectivity it can become harder for parents to keep up. Some services such as Net Nanny, offer ways to put locks and controls on mobile phones. Whereas, TeenSafe.com tries to keep parents up to date with digital information. Still, the digital world can be overwhelming for parents and teens.
Vigilance and communication is key, parents can never expect to keep up with the digital technology their kids use everyday, but they can remain informed and try communicating offline with teens about the dangers online.