How teens are using apps to keep secrets

Adults and teens treat and use social media in very different ways. This seems obvious when we are talking about the newest apps because adults are typically behind on these trends, but in this case, we are discussing apps that are not new and we all know about. And, while there are still plenty apps that we know our teens are using to send out images and videos to the world to discover, many are taking a different approach to avoid the watchful eye of their parents.

In a recent New York Times article, the subject of teens and their secret social media accounts was highlighted. In addition to the usual social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat,  many teens are now creating secret accounts for content that is for more private viewing. Known as a Finsta account, in the world of Instagram,  which means fake Instagram. While a Finsta is one of the publicly accepted Instagram presences that teens often utilize.

Unfortunately, Instagram isn’t the only tool teens are using to maintain their anonymity. Here is an excerpt from the NYT article:

“And because so much of today’s teen social media use is rooted in a fear of getting caught, many teens have detoured their online activity to different ways of cloaked communication. Closed and secret Facebook groups are one way teens (and adults!) privatize communication to a select group — a closed group feels more private because it allows an administrator to approve new users and monitor content. Secret Facebook groups remain unsearchable, and members can only be added or invited by another member. Another trick is to use hidden apps like Calculator% and Calculator+ that look like regular calculators, but require users to enter their passcodes to reveal a back storage area containing private photos.

Also popular with secretive teens are storage apps like Vaulty, which allows users to hide photos and videos, and also has a “mug shot” feature, which takes a photo of anyone who tries to access the app using an incorrect password. Vaulty’s most clever trick? Users can create two passwords for one vault, with each password tied to specific levels of access. So, a parent who insists that a teen hand over the password still might be getting limited access. Some teens just hide apps within folders on their phones. Parents wondering if their children are hiding something might look for a cleared search history and an unexplainable spike in data usage as potential red flags.”

This is not intended to scare parents but rather to inform them of the ability for your teens to have secret lives easier than ever before. Many teens do not understand that the internet is forever and once they post something it can be seen by anyone and even if they take it down there is no guarantee that it was not copied or captured.

It is worthwhile for every parent to take the time to read the New York Times article, and parents really need to educate themselves on the newest technology and how teens are using it.

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