One of the major issues facing our teens these days is sexting. Statistics say that one of every ten teenagers admits to having sent naked pictures of themselves to someone. Sometimes our kids use social media to do this. They’ll send photos and inappropriate messages in the private messaging features of these social media platforms. Sometimes, though, your kids just use text messaging to do it. There are several tools out there to allow you to monitor what texts your kids are sending but there are a few ways they can hide their texts, even from the security you’ve set up. Here’s what they’re doing.
Deleting text history.
This seems pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how oblivious some parents can be. If there aren’t any text messages in your kids’ messaging app, or if it looks like they’ve only chatted with you, they’ve probably deleted their messages. This doesn’t always mean they’re up to something naughty but it does mean you should be having a conversation with them. Deleting their messages is a bad habit to allow them to get into for a number of reasons. First, it looks like they’re hiding something. They don’t want you to be suspicious of them any more than you want to creep around and spy on them. Secondly, they could be deleting conversations that can come back in the future. It’s not a bad thing to have written (or typed) evidence of these conversations, especially if they’re ever contacted by someone they don’t know. I advise you to encourage your kids not to delete texts. If you’re using a monitoring software that uses the iCloud backup (TeenSafe, mSPY) to monitor their texts then you could be missing what they’ve texted if they deleted them while outside of wifi and before a backup to the cloud. If you have a suspicion that text messages are being deleted then you should disallow the use of texting on their phone. If you can’t disable texting then don’t be afraid to take the phone away for a while. Most of all talk to your kids about the risks associated with keeping their conversations hidden. You should be here to help them and they need to understand that.
Using Dummy Phone Numbers and Private Texting Apps
Apps like TextBurner, Anonymous Texting, Buffalo Private Texting, and Smiley Private Texting can easily be used by kids and teens to hide the conversations they’ve been having. Not only do these apps require a pin number to access the text messages but many of them also allow you to set up a new phone number so that you can send and receive texts of calls anonymously. The apps descriptions mention job searches, Craigs List, and dating as some of the main uses for these private texting and dummy phone numbers. They do, however, advise against certain usese of the app and even warn of some of their policies for dealing with those who don’t follow guidelines:
Notice the warning about the age requirement? It says you must be 13 years old. If that’s so then why is the app rated for ages 4+? If you do a scan of all of the apps like this in iOS you’ll find that they’re all rated 4+. If you have your app store settings allowing your kid to download apps rated 9+ or lower or even 4+, they’d be able to download one of these apps, create a private and secret phone number that you don’t even know about and begin texting whoever they’d like. This is why I recommend using Family Link (for android phones OS 7 or higher) and iTunes Family Share to require your child to ask permission to download new apps. If you see any kind of app that says secret or private, or anonymous in the description I’d think twice about allowing them to download it. We have a major issue on our hands of kids sending images and texts that are very adult oriented. You, honestly, can’t keep an eye on every message they send on every app. This is why it’s important to limit which apps they’re allowed to use. It may cause that knockdown, drag out fight you’ve been trying to avoid but it’s better than filing a police report about some stranger who has been sending nasty pictures to your child.