Teens use apps to hide their online activity from parents

COLUMBIA, Mo. - They're free apps that can be downloaded to your phone. Kik Messenger, Snapchat and Tinder are just three apps that teens are flocking to.

According to a McAfee survey, more than 70 percent of teens are using apps like these to hide their online behavior from their parents.

Kik Messenger is a messaging system that can be used on Wi-Fi, hiding conversations and photos that are sent from your wireless provider's SMS service. Users are supposed to be 17 years old to use the app, but ABC 17 News found a 16-year-old who admits to using it.

Snapchat is an app where 400 million photos are shared on daily basis. Then Snapchat destructs them after 10 seconds or less and they can never be seen again.

Finally, a dating app call Tinder is used to find dates by scrolling through pictures of users and marking the ones you like. If that person also marks your picture as one they like, the app then allows you to message the other person.

ABC 17 News found one user who said he is an avid Tinder user and asked him why he used the app.

"I like to meet girls and just look at pretty girls," he said.

That same user said he has met up with more than a dozen girls he found on the app who were complete strangers. But he said he has to be careful.

"There will be a lot of like high school girls that will, like, lie about their age and stuff," he said.

ABC 17's Jillian Fertig downloaded the apps and found all a user has to do is click "OK" to say they are old enough to use the app.

Luke Neal, area director of Younglife, a Christian organization that mentors teens, gave his take on the situation and why he thinks these apps are so popular.

"It's a tricky situation because it's hard to track and I think that's the way some of the apps are designed," Neal said. 

He said he believes the design is what attracts teens to use them.

"There's also no consequences for your actions, whether it's sending an inappropriate photo or having an inappropriate conversation," Neal said. "Your parents aren't going to know about it, your girlfriend isn't going to know about it, your friends are not going to know about it."

Neal said his advice to parents is to have open conversations about these kinds of apps with their teenagers.

Parental controls can be activated on phones that require parental approval before downloading certain applications. But outside of that, there isn't a way to look at activity history on these types of apps.

comments powered by Disqus

ABC 17 News Stormtrack

  • Sunday, June 25 Evening Weather Video

Top Videos