Watch Out for These Secret and Dangerous Apps

dangerous apps

One of the most surprising parenting moments for many of us happens when our sons and daughters morph into teenagers. Almost overnight, our sweet little ones, who once shared all their hopes and dreams with us, begin shutting us out of their lives. Suddenly, we are talking to closed doors and blank stares, grasping at anything that resembles the bond we used to share. This stage of development is tough on families for several reasons, but one of the most startling is the strained relationships between our children and us.

However, this shift in our family dynamics catches many of us off guard. As our teens desire independence and privacy we are often left behind, especially when we factor in their digital devices and smartphones. In fact, 70 percent of our teens actively seek out ways to keep us in the dark when it comes to their technology and social media usage. While we might be able to look at a child’s Facebook account, one area we should be concerned about is the world of secret and disappearing messages.

Secret and Disappearing Messages

Disappearing messaging apps are one of the newest trends to hit the social media scene and they keep evolving. These apps feature messages that automatically delete after being viewed. The amount of time varies depending on the app or settings, but they all promise that eventually the data will be gone. BurnNote and Snapchat are probably the most popular disappearing messaging apps that our children enjoy using.

Our tweens and teens enjoy using disappearing messaging apps, because they don’t keep a running list of all their activity, comments, likes, and friends like traditional social media giants Facebook or Twitter do. Kids are concerned about maintaining their digital footprints and view disappearing messaging apps as a convenient way to promote more authentic conversations. With these apps kids can stop worrying about creating a database of comments, thoughts, and activities that anyone can view or access.

Disappearing messages are one thing, but secret apps take privacy to a whole new level. Secret apps come in a wide variety of formats, but the premise is all the same. These apps create a benign cover that looks harmless to parents, teachers, or adults. On a phone, the icon may look like an ordinary calculator app. However, if you were to click it open, you would uncover a place to store information and photos you don’t want others to view. Often, kids will store sexts or x-rated images in secret apps.

Secret and Disappearing Messaging App Dangers

While disappearing messages and secret apps have some good qualities there will inevitably be some drawbacks to this technology. Unfortunately, the private and fleeting quality of these apps encourage our kids to make extremely poor content choices. These apps become perfect vehicles for bullying and sexting, because evidence of any wrongdoing disappears. Both of these offenses carry very real emotional consequences and have even been prosecuted by the authorities in court.

Although the lack of accountability and the threat of not being monitored is liberating, tweens and teens often forget anything sent over social media isn’t really private. While at first glance, this doesn’t appear to be possible with disappearing apps, children need to be reminded that everything digital has the potential to be retrieved, shared, or saved. Users can always figure out methods to save messages by using screenshots or other devices to click a photo.

dangerous apps

7 Essential Tips for Keeping Teens Safe

Thankfully, we are not entirely helpless. As parents, we can teach our children a few tricks and methods to safely enjoy disappearing messaging apps. Listed below are a handful of essential tools to overcome a child’s secrecy to keep them happily scrolling:

  • Teach social media etiquette
  • Keep all devices in common living areas
  • Prevent children from using phones in bedrooms
  • Have a child tell you if they witness anything that makes them uncomfortable online
  • Let kids know it is okay to say no to sexting
  • Monitor a child’s activity by friending them online or asking to see their accounts every now and then
  • Begin a conversation about the power of words

How do you keep your teens safe while they use dangerous apps?

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