Some social media experts have issued a warning to parents about secret cellphone apps that teens are using to hide, send photos and videos and have private conversations with strangers.
Parents may not even be aware their child has the apps on their devices because some are disguised as helpful tools, such as a calculator.
“These apps show that teens are quite savvy with the spectrum of options they have out there,” Digimentors social media strategist Andrew Lih told WCBS-TV. “It’s amazing how much power is in the hands of teens now with the mobile phone.”
The apps may make teens vulnerable to predators and other dangerous behaviors.
What are some of the popular apps among teens?
Calculator App Lock is one of the most popular apps used by young people. It's disguised as a calculator and it even functions as such until the user enters a passcode to a secret vault where users can hide photos, videos, and notes. It also has a built-in camera, and you can search the internet in private.
Instagram allows users to make multiple accounts, which makes it easy for kids to hide content they don't want their parents to find.
Kik has built-in apps that give kids access to web content that a home computer would likely filter. It also allows users to share pictures, videos, and gifs with strangers.
Hot or Not is similar to the Tinder dating app. Hot or Not is location-based and used for arranging "hook-ups."
Yubo, formerly called Yellow, is also location-based and much like Tinder. It describes itself as an easy way to "make new friends and chat with them! It's so fun!"
Location-based Wishbone allows its users to rate others. Users can create polls to compare people against each other.
Whisper describes itself as a "totally anonymous" place where users can complain about their displeasure in life. Many teens use the platform to share secrets and post rumors.
What can parents do?
Parents can activate the "Ask to Buy" setting in the app store, which only allows downloads with parent approval.
Parents can also go to the app store for ratings and look for warnings.
Parents should monitor their child's devices because many apps are now accessible on desktops and tablets.