#parent | #kids | Teens using ‘ghost apps’ to hide, share inappropriate photos | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

Smartphones aren’t only called “smart” because they connect to the internet — they can also disguise inappropriate apps to look like harmless apps.

 In this day and age, when technology is this advanced, it’s important to keep an eye on your teenagers’ phones and what they’re using it for.

 According to TV news reports, on Jan. 23, Davison Community Schools issued a statement about a 17-year-old who shared more than 100 inappropriate pictures of high school age girls on a website. Many were his classmates.

 Thirty-five students were identified in the photos, and the website has been taken down.

 Looking through the gallery on your child’s camera app may not contain inappropriate materials, but your child could be using hidden apps, called “ghost apps,” to store and hide photos.

 One such app is Audio Manager, which appears to be a helpful app for managing audio on your phone. A simple Google search of “Audio Manager” reveals its true nature. Certain sites call the app “Hide it Pro” and describe it as a place to hide pictures.

 According to Huffington Post, this app is a favorite when it comes to hiding inappropriate pictures, messages, and videos.

 Some of these apps make national headlines, especially when it facilitates a sexting ring among high school students. Calculator% is an app disguised to look like a calculator and serves as a medium to hide inappropriate pictures and messages.

 It works like a normal calculator until you enter your secret passcode.

 According to The Washington Post, this scandal involved at least 100 students and hundreds of nude photos.

 Another app goes one step further and takes a picture of the person trying to access the hidden app. Vaulty hides messages and photos from prying eyes, and also snaps a photo of anyone who incorrectly enters the passcode.

 Other apps that serve similar purposes include Snapchat and Burn Notice. Snapchat deletes photos and videos after a certain amount of time, and Burn Notice is a messaging app that only displays one word at a time, which adds a sense of secrecy.

 Apps like Burn Notice can encourage cyberbullying, because the apps sends a “Burn Alter” to someone when they have a message waiting, even if they don’t have the app. KiK Messenger and Yik Yak are other apps to be aware of.

 These kinds of apps are very popular.

 According to the New York Times, Private Photo Vault is the 28th most downloaded photo and video app on the app store. This is another site where users enter a passcode to hide inappropriate photos, videos, and messages.

How to spy on your children

 While there are ghost apps, there are also apps that help parents see what their child is doing on their phone, often called “spy apps.”

 Spy is the top tracking app for cell phones, according to toptrackingapps.com. It monitors who their children call, text, which apps they use, the number of contacts, GPS location, and collects other data.

 The Spy Bubble and The Phone Sheriff are other useful spy apps.

 Use an iCloud account to monitor your teen’s cell phone usage, according to The Huffington Post. When your teen downloads a new app, it will be downloaded on the parent’s phone as well.

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