Students Using Apps With Only One Purpose… to Hide
As the number of mobile apps available to kids grows (1.3 million in Apple’s App Store as of September 2014), the amount of apps that can be used inappropriately also increases. Apps like Kik and Tinder are being used for exchanging nude photos, arranging sexual encounters, or joining group chats to discuss drug use.
Even the most socially-aware and tech-savvy adults can be fooled by kids using apps to hide inappropriate behavior. Apps like KeepSafe, Hide It Pro and KYMS can hide other applications, store hidden folders and contain secret photo albums.
These apps can disguise themselves as other apps like calculators and audio tools, use false passwords set in place to send the user (a parent/teacher) to a fake photo album, or even allow for private chat/communication between users.
For example, here are published features of the popular app, “Hide It Pro” taken from its Google Play Store description.
1) App disguised behind a fully functional Audio Manager
2) Categorize media into folders of your choice
3) Batch (Multi-Select) support for hiding and unhiding pictures
4) Delete/Share/Unhide/Move pictures between albums
5) Sort files by date/size/name and sort folders by count/name
6) Gallery features Pinch to Zoom, Double tap to zoom, One finger hold and move zoom
7) Slideshow with Fade, Zoom, Swipe effects
8) Send/Share pictures
9) Special optimization for low end phones
10) Video player features play/pause/forward/rewind/next video/prev video support
11) Disappears from recent apps list
12) Two lock screen options viz Pin and Password
13) Escape pin/password for times when you get caught
14) Built in encryption tool (with military standard 256-bit AES encryption) to secure your most important files
15) Plugins for features like Private Messaging / Calls, Private Browsing, Locking Apps
Aside from the in-app hiding features, some of these apps can remove themselves from the device’s recent apps list or are totally hidden in the phone’s app drawer (Android).
Gaggle’s Safety Representatives continue to discover websites and apps that pose potential risks to students. Here’s a popular and ever-growing list of “Top Social Networks & Apps Your Kids Use.”