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The Secret World of Photo Hiding Apps

My daughter started taking photos with my iPhone when she was 3. Now, at age 9, she's an expert iPhoneographer and takes all kinds of photos and selfies and pictures of her friends with her phone (yes, she has an old phone of mine to use).

Blessedly, she's young enough to take photos that are pretty innocuous, and she's fine with letting me see them. I keep a tight reign on how she shares those photos (it's mostly via text with her friends), too—but I realize it's easy for me to do that at her young age.

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Parents with older kids are navigating a fairly new world of digital sharing of photos and trying to balance trusting their kids while also setting parameters and guiding behavior with photographs.

Knowing this, it is with rather sad news that I share that app developers have cleverly created new ways to circumvent our parenting efforts. (OK, perhaps that's a bit cynical. It was probably created for philanderers instead, which isn't much better, right?)

There are now several apps that can hide photos on a smartphone or tablet, including several that masquerade as calculators. Take, for instance, KYMS. It hides as an app called "Ky-Calc" and, when you open it, you see a regular calculator. It even works. But if you enter a PIN and hit the "=" button, suddenly you have access to an entire inventory of secret photos.

So, you know, the developers are always a step ahead.

Ky-Calc isn't the only one. Here are a few others you may want to look out for:

  • Best Secret Folder (appears as a "My Utilities" icon)
  • Keep Safe (appears as a game-like castle icon)
  • Vaulty (appears as a lopsided white V on a red background icon)
  • PhotoVault (a bit more honest. This one appears as a key on a photo icon.)

The best way to avoid your kids using these apps is by setting up their phones in such a way that only you can approve the downloading of apps. However, you can also now set up a "hidden" folder within your iPhone photo library. So, you know, the developers are always a step ahead.

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So your best bet just goes back to trying to teach your kids how to be responsible with photos and videos online, which is something that needs to start young and involve lots of on-going discussion. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to keep an eye out for these secret apps either.

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