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Secret ways your kids could be hiding nudes on their phones

Secret ways your kids could be hiding nudes on their phones
© David Pereiras Villagrá | Dreamstime.com

Keeping children safe is extremely important to parents and grandparents alike. With all the online dangers nowadays, it can seem like a full-time job.

Cyberbullying, online predators, and even internet addiction are just a few risks we need to worry about. Another major concern is teen "sexting."

Many times when a minor gets involved in a sexting relationship, they start sending nude "selfies" to each other. This type of behavior can have serious consequences.

Possessing nude photos of an underage child is illegal nearly everywhere. It doesn't even matter if they have shared the pictures with anyone, just having them is against the law.

If a child does send someone a nude picture, there is no way to control what happens to it. The images could be used as blackmail at a later time or even show up online. The frightening possibilities are endless.

Most kids understand that they would end up in big trouble if their parents were to find nude photos on their gadgets. Which is why they'll go to great lengths to keep their parents from finding them.

That's why you need to know this secret way your kids could be hiding nudes on their phone.

As you know, smartphones are not just for making calls or sending texts. They are also handy gadgets that are more powerful than many desktop computers from the early 1990s.

What makes smartphones special are the millions of apps that turn them into most anything you'd like. There are apps for video chatting, social media, health tracking and so much more.

Unfortunately, there are also apps out there with more devious intentions. You would be amazed at the number of apps available in both Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store that are designed as "photo vaults." They are set up to hide photos from anyone who gets a hold of the users' phone.

A simple search of "secret photo vault" in iTunes results in a countless number of matching apps.

Image: Example of "secret photo vault" search results in Apple's App Store.

As you can see in the image above, there are tons of matching search results in Apple's App Store. And this is just the first page. A search in Google's Play Store will result in numerous matches as well.

One of the more popular photo vault apps for Android is called, "Calculator Vault - Gallery Lock." It's been installed between 1 to 5 million times. That just shows how popular these photo hiding apps are.

What you need to do ASAP

  • Scour your kids' gadgets - Even if you don't suspect that your children have been swapping indecent photos, it's a good idea to take a look at what's on their gadgets. You need to look for illicit photos as well as odd looking apps that could be hiding pictures.
  • Have open dialogue - You need to talk to your kids about online safety. Let them know the risks that come with being online and that they can speak with you anytime a problem arises. Make sure they understand that possessing nude pictures of minors is illegal in most states, even if they are pictures of themselves.
  • Set parental controls - Take advantage of the parental control settings on your child's gadgets. These will help keep them from accessing inappropriate online content.
  • Block apps from being downloaded - If you believe something suspicious is going on, you can take control of what apps your kids can have on their gadgets. Continue reading for steps on how to do this for both Apple and Android gadgets.

Apple Family Sharing

If you are a family of iPhone users, you can take advantage of Apple's Family Sharing option. This will allow you to control what apps your kids are able to install on their phone.

One adult in the family, the family organizer, can set up Family Sharing for the group from their iOS gadget. When you set up the feature, you'll be asked to confirm that you agree to pay for purchases initiated by the family members that you invite and that you have a valid payment method on file.

Here are the steps to set up Family Sharing:

  • Go to Settings >> [your name]. If you're using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings >> iCloud.
  • Tap Set Up Family Sharing, then tap Get Started.
  • Confirm that you want to be the family organizer.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions.

Inviting people to join your family network:

  • Go to Settings >> [your name] >> Family Sharing >> Add Family Member. If you're using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings >> iCloud >> Family >> Add Family Member.
  • Enter your family member's name or email address.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions.

After your family members have joined, the Family Sharing features are set up on everyone's gadgets. That includes the "Ask To Buy" toggle for anyone under the age of 18.

It not only allows you to see their location at all times but you need to approve all apps before they are installed. This is a great way to keep them from hiding nude photos with apps.

Google's restricted user accounts

If you're a family of Android users, you need to set up parental controls. The Google Play Store offers parental controls that can limit what kids can access. Apps, books, movies, music and more can be limited.

When you set up parental controls for apps and games, you can select the highest content rating you want to allow for downloads and purchases. If an app doesn't have a rating, it won't show up in the Play Store if you have parental controls set.

Parental controls apply only to Android gadgets that you add them to. If you have multiple users on a device, you can set up different parental controls for each user. The person setting up parental controls will create a PIN that needs to be entered before changes can be made to its settings.

How to set up parental controls for family members 13 and older:

  • Open the Play Store app.
  • Tap Menu located in the upper-left corner.
  • Tap Settings >> Parental controls.
  • Turn "Parental controls" On.
  • Create a PIN. This prevents people who don't know the PIN from changing the settings. If you're setting up parental controls on your kid's gadget, choose a PIN they don't know.
  • Tap the type of content you want to filter.
  • Choose how to filter or restrict access.

How to set up parental controls for family members under 13 years old:

If you created a Google account for your child under 13 years old, you can set up parental controls for them.

  • Open the Family Link app.
  • Select your child.
  • On the "Settings" card, tap Manage Settings >> Mature content restrictions.
  • Tap the type of content you want to filter.
  • Choose how to filter or restrict access.

Once you set up parental controls, you can turn them on or off. When you turn them back on and create a new PIN, your old settings will come back. This helps you share a device with people who don't need parental controls.

Even with parental controls on, you still want to stay vigilant with checking apps on your kid's phone. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

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