Last night while doing a Twitter chat, a question about "ghost apps" came up, and many of the educators in the chat were not familiar with this term. I had only just heard it recently, so we had a discussion about it. I feel it is important to share this information with families so you can talk to your children about digital safety and permanence of posting.
What are Ghost Apps?
Ghost apps have icons that appear to be a normal app, but when you enter into it, it hides photos you would not want others to see that you have on your device. For example, there is one that appears to be a calculator, but when it is opened, it hides explicit photos the user takes. Now, it isn't as easy as just clicking on it. Most of these apps, you have to hold down your finger on the app and it will prompt you for a password. Then you would see the content they are hiding.
Keeping Kids Safe
While schools do their best to educate students, it is also an open conversation that should happen at home. Discuss the internet and how what you do is more of a digital "tattoo" than the "footprint" we heard so much about before. What you do is permanent. It does not go away after awhile. Also, the understanding that some messages and images that are sent could land a student in hot water because of being underage. Sending these messages have resulted in some teenagers being tried for sending and looking at child pornography since the users were under 18.
This is a great news story on the importance of talking to your children and learning about ghost apps.
Remember that in talking to your children, try to keep a calm demeanor. Many parents find the approach of just asking them about how certain apps work, whether they have heard of ghost apps, or what their friends are doing, will open up conversations. Charging at them with accusations or hostility may cause the child to shut down and not share with you.
What to Look For
Afraid your child has fallen into bad habits? Gotten themselves into a tough place they aren't sure how to handle? Watch for signs that your child has maybe already started using their device inappropriately.
Some Apps to Watch For
A teacher turned techie with an obsession with Google, teachers that love learning, and students that love life!