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Posted on: January 14, 2020

Parent Tip Tuesday-Vault Apps

Stressed dad looking at cell phone

When we were kids, secrets we wanted to keep from our parents were hidden in a diary, held safe by a miniature lock. At the time, we had no idea our parents could, and probably did, look at it with a simple paperclip when they had concerns.

In today’s modern phone era, diaries are a thing of the past. Secrets are kept on their phone and there are apps that help kids hide things they don’t want parents to see. This is done with hidden apps or Vault Apps.

Vault apps store photos, videos, even other apps and have an outward appearance of a benign app i.e. a calculator. Teens are able to hide pictures, videos, text messages or anything else from their parent’s oversight. Vault apps will typically have a password which may prevent you from looking inside them.

First we need to discuss a few of the warning signs that your child may be hiding stuff from you on their phone. When your child is turning off their device or moving it out of your sight when you walk into the room they clearly don’t want you to see what they are doing. If they are reluctant to hand over their phone…they have a reason for that hesitation. Another big hint will be if there are duplicate apps on their phone. Who needs two calculator apps?

Finding these Vault Apps can be tricky as some may be fully operational. Calculator+ is a fully functional calculator until you enter the passcode. The passcode unlocks a hidden folder for photos and videos that can be viewed and played inside the app. Best Secret Folder is a folder that will be titled “My Utilities.” When you attempt to open the folder you will be prompted for a passcode. One consistent theme with these apps is the use of a password. If your child has something locked that they don’t want you to see, odds are that you need to see what it is.

The toughest thing about technology and vault apps is that they are always changing. When you search for a list of Vault Apps that are popular now, know that they will be replaced with others as adults catch on. There are ways to search for the apps that have been downloaded using key words. When visiting the app store on their phone enter in a few different terms; “hide photos”, “secret app” or “vault app.” If any of the apps have “OPEN” or “Update” next to them instead of “GET” it means the app has already been downloaded.

Apps like this reinforce the importance of having conversations with our kids about the dangers of the internet, porn or bullying in the digital age. Your child may use a hidden app to store a copy of their driver’s license or a list of passwords. But there’s also a good chance they are hiding stuff from us parents. Have the conversation, get the password, and find out what’s going on. Then address the situation as appropriate.

Parent Tip Tuesday is a weekly series where the Parker Police Department talks about an issue involving parents and children. Topics will range from the latest apps and technology to building resiliency in your children. Our goal is to give parents five minutes worth of information every week that is easily digestible and educate them about new issues that they or their children may face. Please comment below if there are topics that you would like to see us cover.

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