What is it?
‘Vault app’ or ‘ghost app’ lets you store and manage private photos, videos, text messages, voice recording, notes, documents and other files, and stash them in secret folders. For a teen – it’s an opportunity and a liability!
A quick search for them on both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store reveals dozens of listings for these types of apps. The majority of them are disguised as simple calculators or puzzles.
So What’s the Problem?
The use of these apps for sexting is increasing in schools across the nation. One episode in a high school in Colorado had at least 100 students involved in sending nude pictures of themselves, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
It is important for parents and kids to know that it may look harmless but storing or sharing nude photographs is a crime.
What can you do?
Talk, talk, talk.
Start a conversation with your child about privacy. Let them know that things that go on the Internet or are shared via smartphones last forever and can be shared with anyone.
Their need for a vault app could be just part of their technology curiosity. However, it still requires your parental guidelines.
• Talk to your child about using phones responsibly. Explain that you respect their privacy, but you need to keep them safe.
• Remind them that taking and/or sharing embarrassing or revealing pictures often comes back to haunt people.
• Could it be a sign for a different issue?! Consider that kids might not be trying to hide photos from you but from nosy friends. Try and see if you can understand the reason.
• Use a family app store account that notifies you when your child downloads a new app.
Tip: on iOS there is an easy way to reveal any camera apps disguised as something else.
By checking the apps that uses camera, as we all know a calculator does not require access to the camera.
Settings >> Privacy >> Camera.
NEVER SAY NEVER
Don’t say my kids will never use them, as they are also appeal to kids who do not have much to hide.
Start the conversation sooner rather than later.