What Parents Should Know About Decoy Apps?-cover.jpg
cartoon family

The smartest way to keep your children safe in the online world

Get Started
calendar icon
Apr 26, 2021
user smile icon
Sophia Clark

What Parents Should Know About Decoy Apps?

Many of the applications are not what it seems to be. There are various kinds of applications available on the internet. Most of the application is useful. But, some apps allow us to indulge in illegal or harmful activities.

If we look at two of the most popular application managers, the iOS apps store has almost 1.85 million different apps. And Android's google play has over 2.56 million applications available. So it is hard to filter all the apps from these application managers.

Every application available in application stores comes with several different features. Some applications may fall in the same category. But there is always room for some extra feature and functionality.

Some applications allow us to hide the data that we don't want others to see. These applications are useful for some users who want to keep their data private for online safety or cyber safety. But these kinds of applications can be misused as well.

To prevent kids and teens from the harmful aspect of the internet, parents use various methods. But kids and teens these days can outsmart them by using other methods. Using the Decoy app is one of them.

What are the decoy apps?

The word decoy means fooling or confusing others by pretending to be someone else. Decoy apps do the same. Decoy applications are designed for fooling or misleading other users by pretending to be different applications.


Decoy apps allow users to store messages, contacts, store photos, videos, and more in a vault that is protected by a code, fingerprint, or patterns. Some of these applications do not hide their identity as a vault app. But most of the decoy apps pretend to be messengers, cameras, music players, calculators, and more.

Some examples of decoy applications are:

➔ Private photo vault.

➔ The Best secret folder.

➔ Secret calculator.

➔ Keepsafe photo vault.

➔ Stash word.

➔ Hide My Text.

Above given applications function as a vault and hide your personal information. Many adults use these applications to hide their private pictures, texts, and documents. But also, these applications are gaining more popularity among youths who want to hide their activities from their parents.

The Rise of Decoy Apps

It is believed that decoy apps have been on the phone since 2012. But, these apps gained popularity in 2015. Since then, many teens and adults have been found using these applications to hide their data.


The calculator look-alike vault-app was the first decoy app that gained high popularity. This decoy app was popular among teens, employees, couples, and adults as well. The app did all the functionalities of a calculator but deep inside it had different functions.

Many reasons gave rise to decoy apps. Some of the reasons are listed below.

Reasons why decoy Apps are popular:

  1. People needed apps to hide calls, texts, and emails related to business and personal relationships.
  2. Store photos, pornographic, and other sensitive media that could humiliate the device owner's reputation.
  3. Hiding mobile apps that could be used in offensive and hurtful activities.
  4. Cybercriminals used these apps to share confidential information.
  5. Easy for teens and kids to indirectly bypass parental controls.
  6. Some decoy apps help in creating a backup of hidden information for future use.

Problems Associated with Decoy Apps

As we all know, Cybercrime is a huge issue in today's world. Although these apps can benefit many, it also allows users to hide unwanted content. Some of the problems associated with decoy apps are listed below:

kid using device.jpg

Exposure to inappropriate content

Exposure to this inappropriate content can create changes in the viewpoint of kids. And this can increase the feeling of violence and physical abuse. Teens and kids are curious about everything. Using these apps, they can go against their parent guide and view unwanted data.

Increase in harassment and bullying

Some decoy apps not only allow you to hide media. But allows your kids to hide their secret chats. Hiding the messages is not the problem. But if the texts are violent, it can create a huge issue. Many bullying and sexual harassment are conducted using these apps.

Increase in screen time

Using this application, kids and teens can cheat their parents and go against family safety to indulge in inappropriate content. And can lead to an increase in the kid's screen time and fuel addiction.

Hiding illegal applications

Although most of the application follows online safety features, some applications don't. Most of the applications that are not verified by the company can be highly malicious and also illegal. If your kids are using these kinds of applications by hiding them, it can harm them and exploit family safety.

Bypassing parental controls

Parents deploy parental monitor applications for family safety. but there are various ways kids can exploit it. One of the options is using these decoy apps. The parental control can show the list of installed apps. But if parents cannot recognize the app, using it does not make sense.

How to Spot a Decoy App?

Most of the decoy apps present in the application managers such as apple store and google play, Allows the user to view the functionality of the apps. Analyzing the functionality can help you to understand and find out the decoy apps.

Another way to find out about the decoy app is that it is always password protected. If your kid's phone contains some simple app with a password, you can doubt it. These days kids can also use a function called decoy password. A decoy password allows the user to set a fake password that acts like a real password to fool others.

How to stop your kids from using Decoy Apps?

Although you should respect your kid's privacy when it reaches an extreme level, you should take some action. Using these apps can cause various problems and can hamper your family safety and cyber safety. As a parent, you should only react when your kids start showing unusual signs.

If your kids want to hide files from you, It can be because of inappropriate content, or they don't trust you. There are technical factors and family safety rules that you can use to stop your kids from using these apps. Some of the techniques you can use to stop your kids from using these apps are.

Build trust and communicate

You should always include cybersecurity and online safety while having family conversations. Lack of communication can hamper the relationship between parents and children. Always make family safety your main priority.

Building trust is the key to your children's hearts. If you are close to your kids, there is less chance that your kids will hide things from you. Allowing your kids to freely talk about their daily activities and problems will never escalate the issues.

Daily routine checks

Parents should make a routine to check their kid's phones. Check your kid's phone on a random day so that they cannot be alert before you watch their phone. You can check all the applications and applications to detect decoy apps.

Use of parental control applications

Parental control applications can help you to get away with the problem of decoy apps. Many parental control applications have features of remote live tracking and application viewing options. You can use live tracking to keep on the applications used by your kids regularly.

Whereas the application viewing features can help you see the details of the application. If a simple application like the clock, calculator, camera, and so on is taking high space, you can spot the problem.

Check hidden apps

Some decoy applications can hide. To detect the problem, you need to check the hidden files and applications in the system. Your kids can hide the application. But they cannot remove it from the list of installed applications. You can always match the application installed on the device with the application on the menu.

Check the details of the app on the application store

If you find some unusual applications, you can always visit the application store and verify its functions. Most of the decoy applications in the application store do not hide their details. And then, you can uninstall the application or discuss the issue with your kids.

Restrict unauthorized application installation

It's difficult for parents to deal with unauthorized applications. Since unauthorized applications do not follow the application manager rules and regulations, they can be malicious. Some of them can be genuine, but most of them can be fake.

Unauthorized decoy apps can have many other functionalities that can be hard to detect. These unauthorized apps can be harmful and can cause loss of data, and can hamper cybersecurity. So, you should make sure to restrict unauthorized application installation.

avatar author

Sophia Clark

Sophia Clark is a writer from Sydney, kid-lit enthusiast, and mom of three kids who loves to writes about motherhood, parenting, and big feelings.