Internet Safety: Should Parents Determine Their Child’s Apps?

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In our latest guest blog, HerScoop is calling on Russ Warner, CEO of ContentWatch, makers of the top-rated parental control software, Net Nanny.

Russ is an expert source and speaks regularly on the topic of Internet Safety. Continue reading Russ’ informative blog below.

Question: Should parents be allowed to determine which apps a child uses?

Ways Kids Hide Apps on Android and iOS Devices

Are you feeling comfortable using a smartphone and installing apps? Got a favorite app? We all do.

Well, there are apps and tricks now that make teens feel sort of invincible when it comes to using “inappropriate” apps. Such apps and tricks let you hide your “naughty” apps from view on Android and iOS smartphone and tablets.

First, there is an app called AppLocker for Android and for iOS. Once installed, a teen can place apps inside a folder and apply password-protection to that folder. Mom will see the icon for “AppLocker” on the device, but she won’t be able to access it without a password. On the other hand, when the teen launches “AppLocker” and enters the password, all “hidden” apps are shown and can be launched and used.

AppLocker isn’t the only app of its kind; Hide It Pro, Vault Hide, and Hide Pictures in Vaulty are others. Originally, such technology was used to hide photos and videos on smartphones and tablets. Those apps to hide photos also exist.

Second, Android has a “hide applications” feature built in. With it, you can hide any app you don’t want to appear in the App Drawer. When “hidden,” the app is out of view and not available. When “unhidden,” the app returns to the AppDrawer.

To hide and unhide apps on Android is very easy. Go to App Drawer> Home> Settings> Hide Applications> [choose apps to hide]> Done. Then, repeat the process to unhide the apps. The process to hide and unhide takes seconds; therefore a teen can easily get ready for a random inspection if you give him 20 seconds to prepare.

Third, a simple way to hide apps on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is to put the inappropriate apps in a folder that is mislabeled. For example, would you ever think to look in the “homework” folder for inappropriate apps? Although this method is not fool-proof, it can throw mom off the scent.

And, another method on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is to put inappropriate apps in a folder that is mislabeled and then move that folder to the far right of the device screen (perhaps on a new home screen all by itself) and then press the “Home” button. By doing this, that folder will be locked on the far right home screen and won’t move. When it’s a little cumbersome to find that folder on the far right, it puts things out of regular view.

Solutions

On the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, mom can establish settings to not allow apps to be installed and another setting will disable deleting apps. By enabling these two settings (with password-protection), a teen cannot install apps without mom’s password and they cannot uninstall apps they have loaded already. As such, mom can do a visual inventory of the device and can approve each iTunes purchase (turn off the feature, install the apps, turn it back on).

To access these two features on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, go to Settings> General> Restrictions> Enable Password> then choose the options you want.

You’ll notice in that same menu, you can set ratings you wish to enforce on the content used on the device–such as apps, TV shows, movies, explicit music, etc. For more information on the built-in parental controls that Apple provides, click here.

For Android devices, Net Nanny for Android will inventory all apps on the device whether hidden by the system or not. By doing so, mom can decide if an app should be blocked or allowed. However, Net Nanny for Android cannot inventory apps hidden inside the AppLocker app, but it will show that AppLocker (or Hide It Pro) is installed, and will allow those apps to be blocked.

It’s always good to have an open dialogue with kids about their use of technology. Most kids are not malicious, but all kids need guidance on staying safe online.”

Russ Warner is CEO of ContentWatch, makers of the top-rated parental control software, Net Nanny. He is used as an expert source in local and national press and speaks and blogs regularly on the topic of Internet Safety. Warner has been quoted in or written for articles found on CNN, The NY Post, Forbes, HLNtv, and is a columnist on Huffington Post. He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. ContentWatch is actively involved in Internet safety campaigns for the local media and a national audience of customers. (The opinions expressed in this article are his own.)

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