Apps Help Teens Bypass Parental Oversight

LAS VEGAS -- Police are cautioning parents to monitor their children's social media accounts to know what they are doing and who they are hanging out with.

But some tech-savvy teenagers who don't want their parents to know what they're doing online are turning to applications to hide pictures and text messages from their parents.

Some of the apps are advertised to children, using phrases such as "parents just don't understand."

The apps all differ, with some allowing children to hide pictures in your phone and others allow them to send texts or pictures to friends that are then automatically deleted within minutes, sometimes seconds.

One of the most popular is an app called Snapchat.

Its icon looks innocent, but many parents said they are concerned because it opens the door for inappropriate content to be shared.

George Moncrief with Raster Media said the apps were originally created as a way to increase privacy.

"A lot of it is used for hiding messaging in general, just to maintain your privacy, because there are not a lot of privacy controls on the devices themselves," he said. "Honestly, they are pretty much wide open for anyone who wants to pick up your phone. It's wide open for anyone to browse through your own personal stuff."

The apps, paired with social media, could cause real problems for teenagers.

Moncrief warned that any information or pictures uploaded to the web are pretty much there forever and can be found even years down the line.

Before spring break even began, the North Las Vegas Police Department warned parents to be on the look out for the apps and other sites that could get their teen into trouble.

There are things that parents can do.

If a child's phone is on the parent's account, they can opt to be emailed whenever the child receives notifications from social media sites.

Parents can also sign up to be alerted when the child downloads an app, making it easier to research what they are up to.


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