Experts warn parents to watch for "ghost apps" on their children's phones

A slew of new smartphone applications meant to conceal information are causing parents to take a closer look at their children's devices.

A group of New Prague parents met tonight for a meeting on web and mobile safety, highlighting some of the new ways kids are skirting their parents' rules online. The meeting, among other things, focused on the proliferation of "ghost apps" among teens. 

These applications may appear to be one thing--a calculator, spreadsheets--but enter in a passcode or hit the right button and they reveal messaging functions or images the phone's user would rather keep private. 

Kids have been using them to keep information away from mom and dad's prying eyes, worrying some parents who strive to closely monitor their children's online presence. 

"They are popular because they work," cyber security expert Mark Lanterman said. "Kids want privacy and their friends are using these apps, so there may be pressure to use these apps."

Some statistics show as many as 70 percent of teens use these ghost apps, and some believe the number could be even higher. 

Experts tell parents to look for warning signs like two seemingly similar calculator apps, and set parental controls to monitor or control what apps they can download,  though nothing is as good as sitting down and talking for your children. 

"Know your child may be upset with you for going through their phone," local counselor Sara Stamschror-Lott said. "But if you really have a gut feeling that something isn't right on your child's cellular device you should be looking at it."

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