Secret Apps Your Teen May Be Using to Hide Photos, Videos, Messages and Files

Your child may be using deceiving smartphone apps to hide what they don't want you to see


Published:

Photo courtesy of LightField Studios/Shutterstock

In January 2007, Apple began selling the iPhone. Since then, companies like Google have introduced similar devices, creating a smartphone-friendly world filled with tantalizing apps teens can download onto their devices with the click of a button or touch of a fingerprint.

According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, 73 percent of teens have access to smartphones. A 2017 survey of teens by MacRumors suggests that percentage is more like 76 percent. A 2012 study conducted by McAfee (the most recent study we could find on this subject) suggests that more than 70 percent of teens are hiding online activity from their parents, with 34 percent saying they do this using secret apps, photos and videos. That was six years ago. 

Some of these "ghost" or "vault" apps are designed to look like calculators or music apps, opening up opportunities for teens to hide secret photos and files from their parents — and don't think they haven't seized those opportunities. 

App developers are among the many companies that recognize the importance of creating products for generation Z (teens and young adults born between 1998 and 2016). Gen Z teens are smarter than many of their parents think. They consider themselves masters of the digital world they were born into and often help their parents understand how to use their digital devices and apps. 

We share this information with you as a call to action because your teen (or tween) may have installed some of the apps listed below on his or her phone, and you may not like how he or she is using them. Some teens use these apps to create galleries of nude selfies, or "nudes," that serve as a digital trophy case of "hot" girls or guys they've received the nudes from. Other teens use the apps to store videos of sexual acts — from kissing to making out and beyond. 

Here are some apps to beware of:


Private Photo (Calculator%)

The Private Photo (Calculator%) app hides photos and videos behind a calculator. When you open the app, it looks as a calculator, but if you put in passcode it will open up a private area where files are securely stored and remain completely private and confidential. Free; App Store.


Private Photo Vault

This app allows users to store photos and videos behind a PIN and also includes the ability to create password-protected photo albums. A built-in web browser features a photo downloader. Free; App Store and Google Play.


Hide it Pro

This app allows users to hide photos, videos, messages, apps and calls, and then access them using a secret PIN code. Free; App Store and Google Play.


Best Secret Folder

This password-protected app allows users to secretly store private photos and videos from their photo/video libraries. Photos or videos can also be taken/recorded using the app. Users can group them via a grid or list view. Free; App Store.


CoverMe

CoverMe is a secure messaging app allowing users to hide contacts, call logs, messages, documents, notes, passwords, photos and videos behind an encrypted, password-protected "vault." CoverMe even allows users to embed a "self-destruct" function into messages so that once a message is read, it disappears. Free; App Store and Google Play.


Many families are using contracts to lay down ground rules for smartphone use. A smartphone contract allows parents to openly monitor their teen's phone and requires teens to ask parents before they download any app. Other families simply have an "open phone" policy, so parents are able to ask for and explore their teen's phone whenever they like. 

Whatever policy you choose, be sure to implement and enforce it. Communicate with your child regularly to inform him or her of the dangers of not only saving and storing dangerous photos, videos, files and messages, but of creating them in the first place.


Beth Shugg is the editor of Carolina Parent.

 

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Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
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500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
Website »

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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

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The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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