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Visions, an adolescent residential treatment center located in Southern California, has a warning to parents about what their kids are looking at on their mobile devices. Today, there are many apps that pose dangers to young users, giving them access to sexual material, making cyberbullying easier and allowing kids to hide the information on their phones from their parents. By learning about the most popular teen apps today, you will be equipped to check the devices of your own children to make sure no potential risks are lurking.

Hiding the Evidence
Kids are using apps that look innocent enough, but are really fronts for much more offensive material inside. For example, “calculator” apps like Best Secret Folder, KYMS (Keep Your Media Safe) and Private Photo are all disguised as calculator apps but secretly store photos and other material away from parents’ prying eyes.

Audio Manager is another app used for this purpose. While the name implies the app is to be used for managing music files or controlling sound quality, the real purpose is to keep photos, videos and even other apps safely hidden from view. All you need to do to unlock the screen is hold down the Audio Manager app and press in your code.

Erasing the Evidence
While some apps hide photos and messages, others promise to destroy messages after a determined period of time. Snapchat is the most common app for this purpose, but Burn Note has also been gaining steam recently.

The problem with these apps is that they can give teens a false sense of security that whatever they post on the app will not be permanent. This can lead to teens posting photos and messages they would not necessarily post otherwise. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways to recover the information that has “self-destructed” on these apps, allowing the inappropriate material to get into the hands of total strangers and even sexual predators.

Conversing with Strangers
Another serious danger with many of the apps today is that they allow teens to interact with random strangers with few if any limits on the content of the conversations. The result can be messages filled with sexual content, bullying and references to drugs and alcohol. Some of the most popular apps in this category include Omegle, Whisper and Yik Yak.

Dating apps like Tinder and Blendr also appeal to some teens, particularly the ability to post videos, photos and messages and have them “rated” by other members of the community. Both of these apps feature GPS tracking, which makes it far too easy to connect adults and unsuspecting kids. The rating feature can also be used as a bullying tool, as kids can gang up on one person’s profile.

The Link to Substance Abuse
In addition to the blatant risks listed above, there are other potential dangers hiding behind many of these apps. Even when the messages found within are not sexual in nature, many of them can be very dark – referring to depression, suicide and substance abuse. Kids that have not been exposed to these subjects at school or within their friend groups may find themselves immersed on their mobile devices, without the assistance of adults to navigate the confusing and sometimes scary issues.

Visions is an adolescent residential treatment center concerned with all aspects of teen health as a means to prevent substance abuse and addiction. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.