Parents: Decoy apps may be hiding your teens' pictures and texts - KMOV.com

Parents: Decoy apps may be hiding your teens' pictures and texts

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By Rebecca Thomas By Rebecca Thomas

PHOENIX (CBS5) - When it comes to being tech-savvy, most teens have adults beat.

And boy can they be sneaky!

Combine the two, and you have a potential problem – especially when it comes to their smartphones.

"If a child is so motivated to have something on the phone, that they want to make sure mom and dad can't see it, these apps are obviously going to be one way to do that," said Ken Colburn, of Data Doctors.

He said privacy and decoy apps are popular with teens, so take a peek at their phones once in a while.

"You look in the programs and you see three or four different calculators, (that's) probably a good indication that these might be one of these programs (apps)," Colburn said.

There are dozens of decoy apps available for iPhone and Android, with many appearing to be a calculator and even functioning as one.

But, that's not all they do – once you punch in a code.

"Behind that calculator is the ability to hide and unhide applications and pictures," Colburn said.

So, what should you do if you discover your teen is using a decoy app?

Try not to freak out.

"It shuts the kid up, because the child now feels judged," said Jane Fendelman, a Phoenix-based marriage, family and child therapist.

Instead, Fendelman advises parents to keep calm – and, the lines of communication open.

"The more they know that they can share with you about what's really happening inside of them, and you won't freak out, the less likely they are to sneak around and do things they know you're not going to like," she said.

If a calm conversation doesn't bring about desired change, Fendelman suggests reconfiguring your child'sphone settings or confiscate it.

"The thing that I want the parents to always remember to go back to is, ‘this is because I love you,'" she said. "'I love you and I want to protect you.'"

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