If you’re familiar with Tinder, you probably know it as a dating app for adults. What you may not know is that Tinder also allows – and even encourages – teens to use their services. And Tinder is only one of several age-inappropriate apps that many teens regularly use to meet friends or romantic partners that may not be acceptable to you. Even more disturbing is that you may not know that your teen is using these apps just by looking at their phone. Teens have a number of ways to hide apps that they know their parents won’t approve of so that they’re not obvious at a casual glance.
Teens may try to keep their parents from looking too deeply into their phone usage by setting a password to prevent anyone but themselves from unlocking the phone and seeing what’s on it.
It’s not that there aren’t valid reasons to set a password on a smartphone – in fact, it’s a smart security step. Password-protecting your teen’s phone helps keep younger siblings from playing with it and helps to protect your teen’s data in the event that the phone is lost or stolen. But as their parent, you should be privy to the password. Remind your teen that having a phone and cell service is a privilege, and that privilege comes with conditions, including your having full access to the phone.
Much like computers, smartphones allow users to create folders to store groups of apps or files together. If your teen knows that you’ll be looking at the phone, they may try to throw you off the trail by creating folders with misleading labels. They may think that you’d be unlikely to open and look in a folder labeled “homework” for example.
The simple solution here is to not assume that the name of a folder necessarily represents the content of the folder. Instead of going through the phone’s content folder-by-folder, you can try going to the device’s file manager and see all of the files and apps that are installed on the phone. In the settings menu for the file manager, you should be able to access an option to show hidden files.
One more method teens use to hide inappropriate apps is by using “ghost apps”. These are apps that are designed to hide other apps, as well as text messages, videos, photos, and audio clips. One popular ghost app is called Calculator% and it looks and functions like an ordinary calculator – until you put in a code that opens the app to reveal the hidden files inside. Others look like audio manager apps or other innocuous functions.
One way to tell if an app is a ghost app is to go to the phone’s app manager and look at how much space the app is taking up on the phone. An app like a calculator should use a fairly minimal amount of space – if it seems to be a very large file, there’s a good chance that the app is hiding other apps or files.
Keeping an eye on your teen’s smartphone use and app downloads can be daunting. Parental monitoring software is a useful tool that can help you ensure that your teen isn’t dabbling with inappropriate apps. To find out how parental monitoring software can help you protect your teen, get our free trial.