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Published on Nov 18, 2021
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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 helpful, but some apps allow us to indulge in illegal or harmful activities.

If you look at Appstore and Play stores, there are almost 1.85 million and 2.56 million apps available, respectively. So it is hard to filter all the apps from these application managers.

Every application available in application stores comes with several different features. Even though some applications may fall in the same category, there is always room for extra features and functionality to differentiate apps.

Some applications allow you to hide content that you don't want others to see. These applications are useful for those users who want to keep their data private for online safety or cyber safety. But these kinds of applications can be misused by tweens and teens who want to hide their online activities from their parents.

You can find both desirable and undesirable content on the internet. You may use different methods to prevent kids and teens from the harmful aspect of the internet. But kids and teens these days are tech-savvy and can bypass the parental control apps that you use to monitor them.

Your kids can trick you by using the Decoy app, and you will not even know about it.

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.

kids using decoy apps

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

Some examples of decoy applications are:

➔ Private photo vault

➔ The best secret folder

➔ Secret calculator

➔ Keepsafe photo vault

➔ Stash word

➔ Hide My Text

The 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 tweens and teens who want to hide their activities from their parents.

The Rise of Decoy Apps

It is believed that decoy apps have been on the cellphone 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. These decoy apps were popular among teens, employees, couples, and adults as well. This app looks like a calculator and has a calculator's icon. They did all the functionalities of a calculator, but once you enter the passcode, you will get its actual functions to hide data.

Reasons Why Decoy Apps Are Popular

There are many reasons gave that have given rise to decoy apps. Some of the reasons are listed below:

  1. To hide calls, private messages, photos and videos, and emails related to business or personal.
  2. Stores photos, pornographic, and other sensitive media that could humiliate the device owner's reputation.
  3. Hides mobile apps that could be used in offensive and hurtful activities.
  4. To share confidential information.
  5. Easy for teens and kids to indirectly bypass parental controls.
  6. Helps 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:

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Exposure to Inappropriate Content

Many parents block inappropriate content on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and other websites. But teens always find a way to unblock or download inappropriate content on their devices and view them.

Thereby, teens use decoy apps to store and view such 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 Decoy apps, they can go against their parent guide, hide inappropriate content and view them whenever they want.

Increase in Harassment And Bullying

Some decoy apps allow you to hide media and allow your kids to hide their secret chats. Hiding the messages is not the problem, but it can create a huge issue if the texts are violent. 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. They can view whatever content they want without letting their parents know what they are doing on their phones. And this can lead to an increase in the kid's screen time and fuel addiction. It is also one of the ways kids use to hack screen time on their devices.

Hiding Illegal Applications

Although most of the application follows online safety features, some applications don't. Most of the applications that the company does not verify 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.

Hence, parents try to block such apps from their children's devices. But the kid's on the other hand, use decoy apps to hide such apps from their device.

Bypassing Parental Controls

Parents deploy parental control applications for many reasons, such as kid's safety, protecting kids from viewing inappropriate content, and many more. But your kids can easily bypass parental control apps. One of the options is using these decoy apps.

The parental control apps can show the list of installed apps. But if you cannot recognize the apps, then your kids can easily trick you, and you will not even have a single hint about it.

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. You can understand and find out the decoy apps by analyzing the functionality of the app.

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

How to Stop Your Kids From Using Decoy Apps?

Although you should respect your kid's privacy and do not want to monitor what they are doing, children can be extremely curious and view contents that you do not want them to view. When such activities reach an extreme level, you should take some action. Using these apps can cause various problems and can hamper your family's 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, one reason for it can be because of inappropriate content, or maybe 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. It would be best if you always made family safety your main priority.

Building trust is the key to your children's hearts. If you are close to your kids, your kids will have less chance to hide things from you. Therefore, you should allow your kids to freely talk about their daily activities and the problems they are facing.

Daily Routine Checks

Parents should make a routine to check their kid's phones. Kids these days way more intelligent than you think. While making a phone check routine, you should check your kid's cellphone 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

Another way to spot decoy apps on your kid's devices is by setting parental control on their devices. Parental control applications can help you to get away with the problem of decoy apps. These apps 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

Your kids can even hide on their cellphone, and you will not even have a single hint about it. There are many ways to find hidden apps on your kid's devices. You can even check the hidden files and applications in the system. 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 their 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.


Wrapping up, even though decoy apps can benefits people in numerous ways, like protect their data from random strangers, people are still misusing the apps. More than for positive usages, youth are using these apps to hide inappropriate content on their device.

As parents, if you find any decoy apps on your kid's device before shouting at your kids, you need to ask why you use such apps. Instead of monitoring your kids 24/7, you can teach your kids about the adverse effect of hiding dangerous contents. Lastly, do not forget to keep yourself up to date with new technology so that your kids cannot trick you.

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