What is a ‘secret app’?

A few years ago, an app called Secret Calculator gained popularity. Secret Calculator lets people hide photos that they don’t want other people to see.

Now, there are many apps that have this feature. Children and young people can use them to hide their online behaviour from their parents.

Secret Calculator

  • The Secret Calculator app in particular allows the user to hide specific images. It looks like a calculator app so you wouldn’t realise it stores photos.
  • The user then types in a passcode and enters a secret area of the app. This part securely stores files or photos which cannot be found in the phone’s camera roll.
  • The user can share these pictures via email.
  • There is the option to upgrade for more features for £1.99.

How can I tell if my child has a secret app?

It is important to speak to your children before you go through their belongings. You want to make sure they feel safe with you. They also have a right to privacy. If you feel your child is in danger, it might be best to check their device for a secret app.

There are hundreds of secret image apps like Secret Calcuator. They’re designed so that you don’t realise what they really are. One way to find out is to go on the app store and search “secret” or “calculator”. If they have downloaded one of these apps, the button will say “open”, rather than “get”. You might also recognise the app symbol.

If you find one, make sure you talk to your child about it. Explain your reasons for looking on their device. Tell them why you’re worried. Try to have an open and calm conversation.

What can I do if my child has downloaded a secret app?

  • It is important to have an open dialogue with your child in order to build a trusting relationship.
  • If you feel that your child might use something like the Secret Calculator app, talk to them about it.
    There may be reasons they feel they need it. Are there ways you could address those reasons together without them needing to use a secret app?
  • Help them understand that nothing on the internet is truly private. They need to be careful about what they are ‘hiding’ or sharing. Their privacy and safety is important.
  • Talk to them about situations that could happen if you send private photos or messages.
  • Discuss how they could respond if they received an inappropriate message or photo. Talk to them about what they would do if they felt pressured to send a photo to someone else.
  • Let them know they can come to you if they receive anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure they know you would listen and be understanding. They are unlikely to come to you if they think you will be angry or punish them without listening.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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