There are so many applications available in today’s application store. They range from gaming applications, fitness applications, educational applications, social media apps and many more. These applications provide various function to entertain and educate you. They help with productivity and mental health.
With the belief that these applications help us and our children, we provide them with mobile phones. Even though smartphones exposes us to many risks, parents choose to look at the brighter side emphasizing the communication and productivity aspect of it.
But problems arise when children use these applications to hide something from you. Back in the days, tweens and teenagers used to keep secret diaries and journals to write about their lives. They used to hide these diaries from their parents where they write about their crushes and partners.
With the use of mobile phones, kids nowadays do not need any diaries or journals to hide their files from their parents. What is scarier is, these applications can be used to hide inappropriate photos, videos and contents. While kids are busy hiding stuffs with help of decoy apps, try to keep kids interested in learning.
It is already hard for parents to monitor their child’s internet usage. They have to constantly think of measures to ensure the safety of their kids online. It can be a daunting prospect to have your child come across dangerous strangers or mature contents at a young age. These contents can e seriously traumatizing to their mental health. Children can develop mental health issues manifesting from pornography addiction.
But you might think that you are using web filters so your child might not come across porn. You are monitoring their device downloads so they haven’t downloaded apps where they can chat with strangers. But hat you might not know is that these apps and contents may be hiding in plain sight.
There is a new market for applications that hide contents and other applications in mobile phones. they are usually catered to children. These applications are created to hide contents such as photos are videos in plain sight. they might this guys these the core app as a calculator for the flashlight but they contain photos, for restricted application.
So how can you tell what is a required app and how to recognize one? To help you with this we have created your parent’s guide to decoy apps.
What are the Decoy apps?
Decoy apps are mobile application that allows its users to hide content within the application. These applications are created for that very purpose. They help people store their personal information and content from other people on their phones. Decoy app hides content in plain sight posing as a normal application while other people are viewing the mobile phone. They may be in disguise as a calculator for a camera phone app.
They are not easily recognizable by other people who might occasionally use the phone. Only the owner of the phone will be able to distinguish it.
This application usually contains passwords or some sort of code that needs to be entered before viewing its contents. Some of these applications don’t even act as a Decoy application when it is opened. For example, if the application has an icon of a calculator, the person accessing someone else’s phone will not be able to enter the vault even if they open the calculator. The user will have to click certain numbers to enter the vault app.
Hence these decoy apps are extremely good in holding contents without the knowledge of the other person who is using the phone. The application often used to hide contents from their parents who monitor their phone. they used to hide sensitive information, pornography, all information about their crushes or partners.
These applications can be used according to the brand and the features. Some Decoy applications provide facilities for hiding only photos and videos. While other applications help in hiding photos, videos, mobile applications, texts, emails, contact and even call logs.
The popularity of Decoy apps
Decoy apps shot in popularity through the increasing demand for these applications. These applications have been rising in number since the year 2012. The users of these applications in Android and iOS devices are also increasing.
These applications often have icons of normal utility applications. They are also named with the same name as the application. But they are only able to be recognized and accessed by the user of the phone itself. Some of the most popular app icons are the calculator, camera app, music application or notes. As most of these decoy apps have normal icon they are not opened or searched upon.
The popularity of these applications has risen due to data security problems and the rise of hacking. People are scared that their photos and videos will be taken if their mobile phone is hacked or falls into the hands of someone malicious for which idea about cybersecurity is necessary.
But most of the users who use the applications are children who are tweens or teenagers. This application is used by kids to hide information and contents from their parents which they are not allowed to view. Teenagers who are not allowed to date use these applications to store photos and videos of their partner without their parents knowing. They also use the application to hide text for call logs from their parents.
On the other hand, these applications are also used by teenagers to store pornographic materials. You as a parent can block porn on your kid’s device. As these contents are not allowed to be accessed by teenagers, they had it in the application so that parents cannot find them. Adults are also known to use their applications to hide such material from their partners or their children.
Some popular Decoy apps
Most of these applications have features to hide photos and videos of the device. Some of these applications are provided for free while others have paid version. Most of the decoy apps disguise themselves as other useful applications that are in the mobile phone itself.
Some of the most popular decoy applications are:
● Secret Calculator app
The secret calculator app is one of the most notorious decoy application. It has a calculator icon. When the application is open, it shows a normal calculator. The hidden contents are only shown if the right code is entered in the keypad of the calculator.
The secret calculator application hides photos and videos. It also hides private information. This application is available free of cost. When the photos or videos are added to the application, they disappear from the phone gallery.
● Dialer Lock
This is another application that is described as the call dialler of the phone. this application can be accessed through your normal phone dialler. when you click the phone dialler and press the code that you have previously set you can access the vault app.
This application lets the user hide applications, photos, and videos. Both the name and the icon of this application is the normal call dial button. This is an extremely popular form of disguising itself as the normal functional application of the mobile phone.
Why do kids use Decoy apps?
The primary reason why people use require apps is to hide content from other people using their mobile phone. For example, a man might hide pornographic material from their wife by using the decoy app. Similarly, other people who are having extramarital affairs use this application to hide the other relationship from their spouse.
But as the recent trend shows these applications are most popular among tweens and teens. They use these applications to hide contents that they might have on their phone from the parents. It is found that children who have more strict parents are most found using this app.
Children may hide application that they have their parents have restricted for them to use in a decoy app. They might also use this application to hide their photos or videos of their boyfriend and girlfriend.
Teenage boys are found to use the app to hide pornography from their friends and parents. This application is used to hide nudes, sexting texts, porn or other mature contents.
Children tend to use this application because they are scared that they will take their privileges if they are found during the said activity.
Problems associated with Decoy apps
While using decoy applications is beneficial for some people, it has many risks associated with it. When these applications are misused it can be harmful to the well-being of their children. A child can hide anything in this application, it might be harder for parents to monitor the mobile activities of the child.
As these applications are rather misused to hide pornographic materials, parents might be in the dark about their child’s phonographic addiction. They will not be able to help their children to go through with these problems as they will not be aware of the existence of this content. This might affect the mental health of their child. the phonograph addiction might manifest into mental health issues that could affect them in a long term.
Another issue related to the decoy apps is that children might misuse it to hide the information about their boyfriend or girlfriend. There might be total strangers talking to your children. These strangers might take advantage of their children or exploit them. Your child may be hiding information about the stranger and their relationship with them in the decoy application.
Decoy application can be misused to hide sensitive information from parents by teenagers. The information may be related to something dangerous that might harm the physical and mental well-being of a child.
Hence decoy apps can prove to be extremely problematic when it is misused by children.
How to spot a Decoy app?
There are many ways that you can use to spot the decoy app on a smartphone. These ways vary in range according to the operating system of Android and iOS phones. They might be also different according to the application used by the person on their mobile phones.
If you are suspicious of your child, you can take the following steps to spot a decoy app:
- Go to the Settings of the phone
- Select the Application manager
- Tap on “Show all hidden apps”
- Check the list of installed apps
Other tips related to finding decoy apps are as follows:
- Decoy apps often contain password or codes so even if you spot a decoy app in the phone of your child, you may not be able to access it.
- Some decoy apps may have double-layer protection. These apps are made to deceive the user even if they find the decoy app. For example, you find a decoy app on your child’s phone. You make them open the decoy app with a password. You find that there are materials that are innocent and do not contain any suspicious contents. Be warned! Some applications have a secret password system after the first password to deceive the user.
- You can also find decoy apps by matching them to the icons of the ones in the play store. Search for popular decoy apps and match them to the apps that you find suspicious in the mobile phone of your child.
- You can also find apps by observing if they have more than one mundane mobile apps. They may be a camera or calculator. There is no reason that a person might need two calculators on their phone. This may act as a clue for you to find the decoy app on the mobile phone of your child.