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Keeping Your Devices Safe

Every day, new apps are appearing in the Apple Store and Google Play. As mobile technology continues to develop more rapidly, more apps push the boundaries of what is safe. You may be concerned about an app you’ve heard of, and want to check if it is downloaded on a device in your household. It is always important to have an open and honest conversation with young people about these apps before searching their mobile phones and to make sure they understand the risks you are concerned about. If you do need to check what apps are on a device, here are some simple steps to find them.

For iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select General
  3. Select iPhone Storage, and wait for all the apps to load

For Android:

  1. Locate the Settings icon
  2. Look for Storage, and select the Apps tab
  3. Or look for App Management

Here you can scroll through the apps downloaded to a phone. If you’re worried about decoy apps or hidden camera apps, look for any app names that contain words like “decoy” “vault” “ghost” “secret” “spy” or “hidden“. If you are uncertain whether a “normal” sounding app could be a decoy app, select it to see its storage size. The storage will be broken down into the app itself, and data or documents. An app like a calculator shouldn’t be much bigger than 1MB, (1000KB = 1MB) and definitely shouldn’t be bigger than complex apps like Instagram or gaming apps. If most of its storage is in data and documents, it’s storing something hidden.

For additional peace of mind about what is on your family’s devices, iOS devices (iPhones or iPads) have the option to activate an “Ask to Buy” function. This sends a request to the parent whenever someone attempts to download an app, which parents can then elect to approve or deny. You can find information about activating the “Ask to Buy” function here.

Similar purchase approval measures can be set up on Google’s Play Store here, and Parental Controls which enable parents to set age restrictions on any apps that are downloaded to a device can be found here.

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