#parent | #kids | How teens are hiding photos, more with ‘ghost apps’ — and what to do about it

Could your kids be hiding inappropriate photos on their phones?

The sexting scandal that hit a Colorado high school has many wondering how parents could not have known what was going on, and how to keep their own kids from getting involved in sending explicit photos by text.

The case is highlighting so-called ghost apps or vault apps, which are applications that look harmless but are designed to hide photos or other information. On TODAY Monday, experts explained how one app looks like a calculator, but when a password is entered, secret photos are revealed.

“Ghost apps, hidden apps, they’re everywhere and the kids know about them,” child Internet sex crimes investigator Mike Harris told TODAY. But many parents don’t.

In 2012, a study found that more than 70 percent of teens have hidden online activity from their parents. So what do experts recommend parents do to better monitor their kid’s activity?

  • Check out new apps, especially those that have access to the phone’s camera.
  • Look for redundancy, like two calculators on a phone.
  • Use parental controls, so you know what is being downloaded onto the phone.
  • Have a conversation with your teens and tweens about sexting.

TODAY.com contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam

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