ghost-appsMany of you were surprised and even shocked by recent news reports about the wide-spread sending of nude personal photos among students.

Last night it was on CNN, Fox and I suspect many other stations. CAÑON CITY, Colo. – At least 100 students at a high school in Cañon City traded naked pictures of themselves, the authorities said Friday, part of a large sexting ring!

The really bad news is that this has been going on for years, and is happening all over the Country, including students that haven’t even gotten to high school yet. Consider this week’s Right Clique an eye opening introduction to parents, teachers and any adult with a conscience about a terrible and harmful use of technology.

Even if you look past the misuse of such photos and the bullying and the psychological damage, it is a felony to possess or distribute child pornography. That means the charges could be serious. But because most of the people at fault are themselves minors and, in some cases, took pictures of themselves and sent them to others, law enforcement officials are at a loss as to how to proceed.

The apps we’re talking about are called Ghost Apps or Vault Apps. They became popular back in 2012 when SnapChat first came out. Now there are dozens of these apps. One, as an example, is Secret Calculator Folder Free. Open it up and you’re presented with what looks like a simple calculator. But tap in a passcode that you’ve set for the app, and you’re able to access your private stash of photos.

What can you do? Google the terms “vault apps” and “ghost apps” and learn more. There are good articles about how to identify them and how to make it harder for students to download them. For example a post published on TeenSafe.com said that parents should be proactive about looking for warning signs that teenagers are using vault apps such as

  • Hiding phone screens
  • Refusing to give over passwords
  • And a sudden increase in device usage

Here’s a good, short article to get you started:

Ghost Apps and What You Can Do