Texting is a basic need for all of us, not just for our kids. However, did you know that there are secret messaging apps that allow teenagers to keep their conversations away from their parents’ prying eyes? We never encourage parents to read their child’s messages as this has a very negative impact on their child’s privacy.
Instead, the article below will help you understand what a secret chat app is, is it safe for your kids and how to protect your child but NOT INVADE their privacy, and of course, some bonus Internet safety tips for parents!
What is a secret messaging app?
Many secret chat apps have features that allow users to have hidden or secret chats. While this can act as an extra layer of security, it can also be used as a tool to hide the nature/content of conversations. More and more of these applications even include self-destructing features, which automatically delete text, photos or videos sent after a certain period.
For some teens, these features can have several consequences if not used correctly and wisely.
Notice these 5 secret messaging apps
Telegram is a messaging app. As well as other secret messaging apps, Telegram allows your child to make voice calls and share photos, videos and files with friends. Other features Telegram offers to include group chat and photo and video editing tools.
One significant security feature is Telegram offers secret chats with messages that are self-destructed and automatically deleted from both of their devices.
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send photos and videos (called snaps) to other users. The release of this app encourages users to live and share those instant moments, and provides an opportunity for them to take pictures, record videos, and send them to recipients.
However, unlike photos or videos sent via text or email, the special feature this app owns is that the photos sent on Snapchat disappear a few seconds after they are viewed. The only way the recipient can save the image is to take a screenshot.
Vault is different from private messaging apps because they don’t have any messaging features. But this secret app allows users to store and hide chats, photos, videos and files and protect them with a password. Vault, to conceal its presence, has an exterior that looks like another utility app on a phone.
Wrong password attempts are recorded and in some cases, the application even takes a picture when the user enters the wrong password. These apps provide a sense of security for users who want to keep important information, such as passwords, travel plans, or personal information private. However, Vault is considered an application that allows sexting – texting and receiving pornographic materials.
WhatsApp, a fairly popular messaging app that allows users to text and voice calls to others from around the world. Other features that WhatsApp offers include group chat and the ability to sign in and chat from any web browser.
But parents should know that WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption that allows users to further protect their chats by allowing codes or numbers to unlock and read each message. Readers without codes or numbers will not be able to view the chats.
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Kik is a private messaging app that allows your kids to chat not only with their friends but with strangers as well. While Kik doesn’t immediately delete chats, the app promotes public group chats covering any topics and interests, so there’s a high chance these groups are often not suitable for children and teenagers.
Kik is notorious for its many problems related to predators on the Internet and child pornography.
Is the secret chat app safe for your kids?
If they don’t use it wisely, the answer is not. Why? Here are some of its prominent dangers.
Sexting is the sending, receiving or forwarding of pornographic content via text message or email. Nowadays there are many teenagers sexting, with reasons as varied as a curiosity to try new experiences or because their friends do so and they won’t look cool if they don’t do it, and because of the desire to be praised by others about their bodies.
However, due to lack of knowledge, chances are your child believes that photos sent via text messages, email or even on secret chat apps such as Snapchat will only be viewed by recipients. But after sending, these images are completely out of their control. They can be downloaded, copied, forwarded to others and posted again.
From there, it can lead to a series of consequences such as spreading your child’s photos to communities, chat groups, blackmailing them and using them to destroy their reputation.
Snapchat, for example, has a Discover section that offers Stories and content outside of your child’s friends. This content ranges from advertisements to publications to posts of some famous users. Like Instagram and other social networks, the more clicks a content gets, the more likely it is to appear first.
To get more clicks, the content must stand out and attract attention. You can easily guess that the topic that always gains huge attention: Pornography.
Secret things tend to be negative, as mentioned above, Kik and Telegram have a bunch of chat groups where users post pornographic material, pictures, etc., and your kids are ignorant and can’t control themselves, they will go deeper into pornography, and become addicted to it.
On these platforms, there are a lot of sex attackers targeting children and adolescents, so if they are not careful, your children will easily fall victim to them.
How can you protect your child from the dangers of a secret chat app, but not invade their privacy?
The answer remains the same: There is nothing better than regular education and conversation with your children. Update yourself and show your child what is appropriate and inappropriate and show evidence of it such as how porn can negatively affect their brain. Educate your child in a gentle and understanding way.
From there, you have built a good relationship with your children and made you strong support for them whenever there is some problem, even the most sensitive issue. However, there will be a possibility that your children have their own secrets, and you should and must respect them. Don’t insist on seeing your child’s text messages, as excessive control will only make them further away from you. If you over-control your kids, you:
- Not respecting your child’s privacy
- Destroy the relationship with the child
- Make your child even more secretive
The most effective parenting style in the digital era never over-controls kids.
Besides, build good habits and help your child develop their digital intelligence on the Internet – the virtual world is just as important as the real world. Some digital skills your child must have when using the Internet:
- Digital Footprint: Trace of data your child creates while using the Internet. Once your child has any online activity, it will live forever online and out of your child’s control even if your child deletes it shortly afterward. This is extremely important in teaching children not to send or share any sensitive pictures/videos of themselves.
- Digital emotional intelligence: Your child’s ability to empathize with and build good relationships with others online.
- Digital communication: The skill to communicate and collaborate with others using digital media and technologies. Your child needs to know how to communicate and express his or her thoughts with the other person over the Internet as effectively as when he or she communicates face-to-face.
None of the options are 100% effective, and sometimes educating and talking with your child is not enough. As mentioned, pornography is too dense on the Internet, children can easily approach it even they just find things about gender, to ensure your child’s online environment is safe and healthier, you should consider using an additional online content filtering tool – one of the best free parental control software to hide 15 types of harmful content on the Internet, including:
- Horrifying content like gore, accidents, ghosts, violence, murder, terrorism, etc
- Content about stimulants, addictive substances such as alcohol, beer, marijuana, drugs, etc
- Content with aggressive elements, hurting others like Hate speech
The special thing is that this free porn blocker extension is completely free, helps to minimize your child’s access to harmful content, ensuring a healthy online environment for your child but at the same time, not invading their privacy rights.
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