Are your kids hiding secrets on their mobile device?

West Virginia

It’s the latest tools teens can use to deceive their parents on their personal devices. Their purpose is to keep you out and in the dark. Most are free to download, giving teenagers access to digital vaults in disguise.

Courtney Laney is a new mom and says it’s too easy and shouldn’t even be allowed.

They’re seemingly innocent icons on a smartphone or device. Some look like a standard calculator but have an ulterior motive.

“These apps make themselves look like other apps like a calculator or a notepad or apps like that and then disguise themselves.” Says Detective Jason Payne with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. “When you open up the app it’s a different type of app that stores data in there.” Payne adds, “some of the apps that look like calculators actually use a decoy password so if somebody found out about the app the person using it could give a different code that will open a different set of files that are stored in there, rather than the one that they’re actually storing.”

This is just one of the countless apps that serve the same purpose. Deception. Laney says this type of app could open the doors to dangerous circumstances. “Kids are very advanced nowadays with technology, so you never know what’s out there and it’s scary.”

Det. Payne says, these so-called “vaults,” could open the door to some unexpected consequences. Although it might not seem like a big deal to the kids now, Det. Payne says it could hurt them down the road. “Typically what we see, is just kids sending inappropriate pictures to each other and then them getting distributed to where they didn’t originally mean to go.”

If you suspect your child may be using an app to go under the radar, Detective Payne has some advice on how you can protect your child from unintended consequences. 

“You want to look for things like duplicate apps. So if you see a regular calculator, and you see another that looks a calculator, that may be a warning sign you may want to look further into that.”

For more information on ways to identify these “digital vaults,” visit this link: It provides step by step instructions and on how to find hidden apps on your child’s phone.

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