The Most Dangerous Apps of 2019

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2019


By Trishia Van Orden and Melody Bergman


Cooking? Cleaning? Losing weight? Wasting time in the grocery line? There’s an app for that!

Each year, hundreds of new applications spring up in our digital app stores. Many of these apps can help improve our daily lives, from organization, hobbies, and shopping to medication, health, and wellness. While many of these apps are useful and safe, many are not.

We know you don’t have time to sift through them all. (We’re busy parents too.) So our team at Educate Empower Kids has done some of the legwork for you. We’re here to help!

Over the last several years, we have discussed several apps that pose risks to children. These applications cover a variety of genres including social media, gaming, chat rooms, rooting and anonymous apps. Some apps we have included in our past “Most Dangerous Apps” articles include Twitter, Facebook, ASKfm, Tinder, Tumblr, Snapchat, Yik Yak, and hiding apps. These applications still pose a threat to kids and teens, especially when privacy settings and monitoring are not in place. However, for this year’s list, we wanted to bring some dangerous applications to light that might not be as well-known.



We all use social media these days. Almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram account. But did you know there are other, less known social media networks? Many of these platforms are unfiltered or have very loose regulations.

While some people use social media as a way to reach out and connect, we need to be mindful about the choices we make in these virtual spaces. If we aren’t careful, social media can open the doorway to harmful content such as porn, self-harm, eating disorders, and questionable celebrity role models. It can also expose our children to bullying, negative self-treatment, trolling, identity theft, and predators. The less regulated the social media site, the more risk it poses.

 BYF – Unfiltered Social Media Platform: A social media app that offers people an unfiltered experience. There are no restrictions or filtering, which means unlimited access to pornographic images and conversations. This app also poses a risk for cyber-bullying, trolling, and encouraging self-harm.

 Comvo – The Free Speech Social Network: A platform that offers unfiltered posting. The makers encourage users to speak freely and post whatever they want. This app also allows users to “expire” their posts so they cannot be accessed after a certain date.

 Social Media Freedom: This application is rated M17+, but there is nothing stopping those younger than 17 from downloading the app. Users can “mark” their favorite locations, which makes them an easy target for predators. Also, all messages “self-destruct.”

 Look: A live video and text messaging app that is unfiltered and contains inappropriate content. It also encourages users to connect with strangers nearby.

 ASKfm: A social media app that allows users to post in a Q&A form. It is well known for cyber-bullying, trolling, swatting and encouraging suicidal behaviors and should be avoided at all costs.

 9GAG: An app that encourages users to upload and share “user-created” funny content with little or no filtering. This app has a history of swatting, trolling, and cyber-bullying, and should be avoided at all costs



Chat apps cover anything from messaging via text to video “snapchatting.” Many of these chat applications connect users with others who have similar interests and locations. Some apps even allow users to rate other users as hot, sexy, or not. Most of these applications contain mature content and are filled with predators waiting for fresh prey. Live-streaming is especially dangerous because pornographic/harmful content can be distributed instantaneously without any filtering or mediation.

 BIGO LIVE: A live-streaming video social media network. The main focus of this app is to gain status and money through views and advertising.

 TikTok (formally The purpose of this app is for users to create and post “real short videos” and messages. It is notorious for mature/pornographic content.

 HOLLA: A video chat application that allows users to post random videos and connect with strangers in their area. It is easy to fake age and can put children at risk of meeting and interacting with predators.

 Blendr: A video chat room where you are encouraged to “chat, flirt, and meet” with other users in your immediate area. People are rated by their “hotness.” There is no age restriction for this app.

 YouNow: A live stream video chat app where the user broadcasts live to “fans” who they may or may not know. (It is possible to view as a “Guest.”) We read several reports about “perverts” trying to get young girls to expose themselves on camera. Apparently, it is a big problem in this app.

 Periscope: An app that allows users to create, live-stream, and watch videos from their mobile device.

 Houseparty: An application that allows people to video chat and text 2-8 people at the same time. You can connect with your friends and friends of friends. You can create a “live” place where you can connect on and off throughout the day and meet people secretively.   



There are many gaming applications out there that can pose a risk to children; however, the following applications have caught our attention due to the risks they pose. Any gaming platform with a live-chat feature or community attached poses a risk, as predators and cyberbullies thrive in these environments.

 Twitch: This application allows users to watch and comment on live streams of videos games. You can also create your own live stream that others can comment on.

 Discord: A video game chat application that allows users to log in and join other gamers while playing a video game. This application has mature content and privacy settings that are easily changed.

 ZEPETO: This is an avatar-based game that allows users to chat and meet others via the game. Users do not need to know each other to interact.

 IMVU:  A social game that allows users to create a 3D avatar and then interact with other people, even complete strangers. This game allows people to “have sex” and encourages stereotypical body images for women and men.



Jailbreak and rooting applications are used to remove restrictions and limitations on a phone, tablet, game console, or computer so the user can install apps, extensions and other software prohibited by the manufacturer. This puts the device at risk for hacking, malware, theft, and stalkers.

 Cydia: A jailbreak/rooting app mainly used for iPhones. This app doesn’t have an age restriction.

Jailbreak: A jailbreak/rooting application used by Android and iPhone users alike. There is no age restriction to download and use.



These applications allow users to start conversations with other users (close and far) while remaining completely anonymous. This puts users and non-users at risk of bullying and harassment. Below is a list of some of the more popular anonymous apps.

 Lipsi: According to the creators this app allows you to connect with your friends and be open and honest with them while protecting your identity.

 Tellonym: This app is much like ASKfm in that it allows users to post questions and get answers. The main difference is that Tellonym allows users to post and answer completely anonymously.

 Whisper: This app was created to share secrets and discover what others really think. It is essentially a social media app that connects you to others in your location. Everything is done anonymously and there is not much if any filtering.

 Sarahah: An app where users can pass anonymous “notes” to each other giving feedback about their strengths and weaknesses. Users do create a profile which they can connect to Snapchat.


Phone applications allow users to make and receive phone calls and text messages without using their phone carrier. While these apps are great if you are in a pinch for money they can also be dangerous–especially for kids. Many phone apps are not monitored and “throw away” all proof of contact after the call/message has been sent. Therefore, if a child is sending or receiving harmful material (especially from a bully or predator), there is no way to protect them, and there is no way to prove it.

 WhatsApp: An online phone that is unmonitored. Comes with unlimited talk, text, video and picture sharing. However, you do need a phone number to sign up. Difficult to control and monitor.

 LINE: An instant messaging app that allows you to make voice and video calls to anyone worldwide without using your mobile carrier. You can also text and share files, and join a group message with up to 200 people.    


For more information about apps that pose a risk to kids and teens:

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2018

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2017

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2015


Also, check out these great resources to help your kids use digital devices safely and responsibly.

Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, is a great book on using social media and other technology to spread kindness and good in the world.


Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Discussions for the Digital Age provides you with information and topics, including social media and using technology, that you should talk to your children about.

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online proves you with information on how to stay safe and smart while using social media.

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online


Trishia Van Orden has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She has a love for psychology and hopes to one day open a Family Life Education Center where she lives. She is currently writing for Educate Empower Kids and working as a volunteer in a girl’s youth group program. She is a wife and a mother of three beautiful girls.

Melody Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, co-host of the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, and blogger at MamaCrossroads. She is also a member of the Safeguard Alliance for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and facilitator for the Virginia Alliance on Sexual Exploitation. Melody has a bachelor’s degree in communications and has been writing and editing since 2002. Her mission is to motivate leaders and community members to educate and protect children and families.


The Power of Moms: Raising Responsible Tech-Positive Kids

The Power of Moms: Raising Responsible Tech-Positive Kids


By: Ariane Robinson


Last Sunday as I sat down to relax and read a favorite book, I heard the familiar sound of arguing between my kids. Then the rush of little feet coming down the stairs one after the other as my daughter yelled at my son, “I’m telling Mom!” and he promptly yelled back, “No, I’m telling Mom!” The daily race was on to determine who could reach me first and plead their case. As they reached me, talking a mile a minute and making accusations about the mean things the other child had said to them, I chuckled to myself. Then without a thought I heard my mother’s own words roll off my tongue: “If you two can’t say something nice to one another, then you shouldn’t say anything at all!”

In that moment, when I morphed into my mother, I considered not only my own mother’s influence on me, but also my influence on my own children. What legacy and actions will my own children find ingrained in them because of my example?

We live in a digital age, and being a great example for our children presents certain challenges that mothers of the past have never had to face before. The way we handle these challenges will have a big influence on the behaviors and attitudes of future generations, and shape how technology impacts their relationships. As mothers, we must do our best to make sure that our words match our actions, especially when it comes to our own technology use.

Here are 5 ways we, as mothers, can model healthy tech habits for our kids:

Limit Your Screen Time. This is something that we are constantly preaching to our children, but are we doing it ourselves?  Are we glued to our phones? Texting while we are playing with our kids, or during meal times? Don’t let every second of your day be consumed with technology. Find some time where you are not distracted by your device to talk with your child and have some time together.

Quality time does not have to be elaborate or planned weeks in advance. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or playing your child’s favorite game. These small acts lead to a beautiful deepening bond as parents share their child’s excitement and enter their world. This leads to greater empathy between parent and child, and can help children to overcome frustrations and anxieties. Simply put, spending time with our children lets them know they are important to us. As mothers we would be wise to remember that our children are young for such a short period of time. Let’s put our phones down and make some happy memories!

Follow the Tech Rules You Have in Your Home. If the rule in your home is that no electronic devices are allowed in the bedroom at night, then make sure you set a good example for your kids and follow that rule as well. A recent study showed that it is easier for kids to follow household technology rules when families develop them together and when parents live by them as well (Nauert, 2016). Respecting the rules in your home will help your child to not only take them seriously, but to also have greater respect for you. They willview you as someone who is authentic and means what they say. When our children respect us, they are more likely to come talk with us when they have concerns or worries. Love and respect are the foundations of a healthy parent-child relationship.

Don’t Overshare on Social Media. Social media can be a great place for moms to connect with family and friends. Mothers can also find wonderful support from other moms via social media sites. However, as moms we must remember that our social media accounts should not become our diaries. Experts are reminding parents that “sharenting” can put your children at risk even when they’re older. It’s impossible to know who may be Googling their names and checking out social media accounts down the road. So, even if your child is young consider whether you’re providing too much info when it comes to your children. Because, remember, the internet never forgets (Scileppi, 2018). It can also be very embarrassing to our children if we share things that they are not comfortable having published on the internet.

Post Real Images Online. We live in a world where we feel pressure to edit or alter our images to what we think is our “best selves’ instead of our real selves.” One study found that “nearly 60% of parents with children under 18 edit their pictures before posting them on social networks”(Renfrew Center, 2014).  As mothers we want to be cautious of sending the message to our children that the way they look must be altered or changed.

Instead, we want to help them to recognize that there is not just one type of beauty and that we love them for who they are right now. This will help them to develop a healthy body image, and avoid the depression and insecurities that can develop when we obsessively compare ourselves to others. We should make sure that our children know through our language both online and offline, that we support and encourage other women and mothers. As mothers, it can be easy to get caught in the comparison game, but we should do our best to avoid unhealthy comparisons and speak positively about our own bodies and the bodies of others.

Use Technology to Learn and Improve Your Life. As mothers we can teach our children that technology can be used for more than just gaming and social media, and that there are lots of educational resources available online. For example, most colleges and universities offer online classes that can be taken to learn new skills or improve upon the skills we already have. There are also many free or low-cost resources such as Khan Academy  and Massive Open Online Courses. As mothers we can help foster a love of learning in our children as they see us seek out and use technology to learn new things. We can teach them that technology can be used as a tool to better ourselves and the lives of those around us. We can show them how to use technology to fill their hearts and minds with goodness rather than gossip or harmful images. We can teach them how to control technology, instead of allowing it to control us.

This Mother’s Day, take some time to thank the women and mothers in your life who have inspired and guided you. But also take time to reflect on your own example and to evaluate how it is affecting the next generation. As we focus on deliberate, intentional parenting in a digital world, we can influence our children for good!

For  fun, simple ways to begin the conversation about how to use tech for good, and the importance of healthy tech habits check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good.


Or Check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age–A simple, super-helpful guide that gives YOU the words to talk about tough, timely topics of today (like racism, integrity, agency, healthy sexuality, LGBTQI issues, social media, and more).

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She has a degree in Marriage and Family Studies and is a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH, a program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.


Renfrew Center (2014) Afraid To Be Your Selfie? Survey Reveals Most People Photoshop Their Images. Retrieved on August 29, 2018 from

Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Kids Expect Parents to Follow Technology Rules Too. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 29, 2018, from

Scileppi, T. (2018, March). The dangers of parental oversharing on social media. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from


Uso excesivo de la tecnología y crianza perezosa: una combinación mortal

Uso excesivo de la tecnología y crianza perezosa: una combinación mortal

Por Marina Spears


Traducido por L. Antonio Mayen Castellanos

Estoy segura de que todos estamos familiarizados con la siguiente escena: un niño pequeño llora y se queja en público, el padre saca un teléfono inteligente o una tableta, se conecta a un juego, el niño se calma y todo está bien. ¿Pero es de verdad? Muchos maestros, administradores y profesionales de salud mental escolares están preocupados.

En una entrevista reciente con Sarah McCarroll, MS, psicóloga escolar de Pensilvania, durante dieciocho años expresó las preocupaciones que ella, sus colegas y los funcionarios escolares están experimentando en todo el país. Están notando los efectos de la tecnología de “uso excesivo” con los niños y lo que ella describió como una “reducción significativa en la inteligencia emocional”.

La inteligencia emocional es “la capacidad de comprender la forma en que las personas se sienten y reaccionan y de utilizar esta habilidad para hacer buenos juicios y evitar o resolver problemas” (Cambridge University Press, 2018). McCarroll explicó que cuando la tecnología reemplaza la crianza activa, como tomar el tiempo para enseñar habilidades de afrontamiento, los niños se saltan pasos importantes para aprender cómo manejar las emociones de manera saludable. Este tipo de “crianza perezosa” es perjudicial de varias maneras:

  • Disminuye la capacidad de un niño para aprender la autorregulación. Cuando un niño juega videojuegos o usa las redes sociales, el cerebro libera dopamina, que está conectada a los sentimientos de placer. Cuando un padre usa este mecanismo para ayudar a un niño a sobrellevar la situación, los sentimientos de frustración nunca fueron tratados realmente, solo se cubrió con una distracción que “se sintió bien”.

  • Crea patrones malsanos. El uso excesivo de la tecnología en momentos de frustración creará un patrón de comportamiento que utiliza la tecnología como un escape de sentimientos incómodos.

  • Puede llevar a la adicción. Cuando se usa la tecnología de esta manera, los niños pueden desarrollar la sensación de que la necesitan para “hacer frente”, lo que puede llevar a la adicción.

Por otro lado, cuando un padre se toma el tiempo para permitir que el niño sienta la emoción y enseñe habilidades de afrontamiento, el cerebro del niño está trabajando muy duro y está creando nuevas conexiones que le permiten al niño manejar sus emociones en situaciones futuras.

McCarroll también explicó que “necesitamos usar la tecnología de manera inteligente” y, con demasiada frecuencia, los niños pasan más tiempo interactuando con un iPod que en las interacciones cara a cara con sus padres. En 2016, la Academia Americana de Pediatría anunció nuevas regulaciones de medios para el uso de los medios por los niños. Una de las autoras principales de las recomendaciones, Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, declaró lo siguiente: “Las familias deben pensar de manera proactiva sobre el uso de los medios por parte de sus hijos y hablar con los niños al respecto, porque el uso de los medios puede significar que los niños no tienen suficiente tiempo durante el día para jugar, estudiar, hablar o dormir “.

¿Entonces, qué podemos hacer? La tecnología funciona para calmar a un niño; funciona para tener un momento de tranquilidad mientras estamos cenando después de un largo día. Es importante recordar que estas son soluciones rápidas. A la larga, todos queremos una fuerte conexión con nuestros hijos. Queremos poder impartir lo que sabemos y proporcionarles todas las herramientas que necesitan para tener éxito. Y eso no vendrá de ser un campeón en Subway Surfers.

Aquí hay cuatro sugerencias para ayudarnos a encontrar un equilibrio con la tecnología:

1) Tecnología ahora, habla más tarde. Si usó una “solución rápida técnica” para evitar un desastre en el supermercado, asegúrese de comentarlo más adelante con su hijo, averigüe por qué estaban molestos, hable sobre las formas en que pueden manejar sus sentimientos y cómo puede ayudarlos.

2) Tomar descansos. Crea “tiempos libres de tecnología” con tu familia. Estos pueden ser comidas, viajes en auto, domingos por la tarde, o lo que mejor funcione. La forma de hacerlo no es tan importante como garantizar momentos de interacción cara a cara.

3) Tiempo de calidad. Si es posible, tome tiempo cada día para pasar tiempo individual con cada uno de sus hijos. Asegúrese de apagar los teléfonos, iPods y cualquier otra pantalla durante ese tiempo.

4) autocomprobación. Debido a que los niños siguen nuestro ejemplo, realice una “autoprotección” a menudo. ¿Nos estamos perdiendo los momentos de enseñanza con nuestros hijos porque solo queremos llegar al siguiente nivel en Candy Crush?

Asegurémonos de que cada día hagamos todo lo posible para conectarnos con nuestros hijos y usar la tecnología para ayudarlos a no obstaculizarlos. Echa un vistazo a nuestros recursos aquí, hay actividades, lecciones y temas de conversación para que nuestros hijos tengan las herramientas que necesitan para tener éxito en este mundo digital en constante crecimiento.

¿Se siente motivado para hacer algo en este momento sobre el uso digital en su hogar? Haga clic en este enlace para ver una lección descargable para discutir este problema. ¡Con esta lección y aproximadamente 15 minutos de su tiempo, puede hablar sobre adicciones digitales y mecanismos de afrontamiento más saludables con sus hijos, directamente en la mesa de la cena esta noche!

¿Listo para hablar con sus hijos sobre temas difíciles pero importantes? Echa un vistazo a 30 Dias de Charlas Sobre Sexo, edad 8-11 anosCómo hablar con tus hijos sobre la pornografía

Marina Spears es madre de cinco hijos y pronto se graduará de BYU Idaho con un título en Estudios de Matrimonio y Familia. Le encanta leer, hacer jardinería y pasar tiempo con sus hijos.

Sarah McCarroll, M.S., obtuvo su título en la Universidad de Pennsylvania y ha sido psicóloga escolar durante 18 años, trabajando con estudiantes de secundaria y preparatoria durante gran parte de su carrera. Está casada con un profesor / entrenador de secundaria y es madre de 3 hijos, que también están en los niveles de secundaria y preparatoria. Ella cree en abogar por los estudiantes con discapacidades y sus familias a través del trabajo en equipo con maravillosos educadores. Es cofundadora de STARs, un programa dirigido a las niñas en riesgo, para reducir la violencia entre las niñas mediante la promoción de la hermandad positiva.


Prensa de la Universidad de Cambridge. (2018). Diccionario de Cambridge. Obtenido de Cambridge University Press:

Kent C. Berridge, K. C. (1998). ¿Cuál es el papel de la dopamina en el impacto hedónico de recompensa, el aprendizaje de recompensa o la prominencia de incentivo? Brain Research Reviews, 309-369.

Academia Americana de Pediatría. (2015, 21 de octubre). La Academia Americana de Pediatría anuncia nuevas recomendaciones para el uso de los medios en los niños. Obtenido de la Academia Americana de Pediatría: -childrens-media-use.aspx


LECCIÓN: Hablando con tus Hijos sobre el Consentimiento

LECCIÓN: Hablando con tus Hijos sobre el Consentimiento


Traducido por L. Antonio Mayen Castellanos

Es absolutamente imprescindible que su adolescente sepa lo que significa dar su consentimiento. Ellos necesitan saber que si alguna atención no es deseada, debe detenerse. Enseñar esta lección no sólo los empoderará con más confianza, sino que también los ayudará a protegerlos de los depredadores sexuales.

El consentimiento es dar permiso o acuerdo informado, claro y consciente. Es crucial que los adolescentes comprendan qué constituye el consentimiento en lo que respecta al sexo, tanto para ellos como para los demás, para que sepan cuándo “sí” realmente significa “sí”.

Download the Lesson Here!

Todos estos se pueden encontrar en 30 días de Charlas Sobre Sexo, empoderar a su hijo con conocimiento de sexualidad en Amazon.

Pornografía, El respeto, Creando una relación sana, Límites de relación, Autoestima y Sexo, y más.


What is a VPN and How Kids Use Them to Hide their Online Activity

What is a VPN and How Kids Use Them to Hide their Online Activity


By Jamie Siggard


This is part one in a two-part series. To see part one click here.


For those tech-savvy kids out there (which is most kids!), they may have beat the system and installed a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that allows you to access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server which hides your online actions from your ISP. Essentially, the ISP data is gibberish if obtained.

VPN’s are often free, but even the paid options are very affordable. They also are incredibly easy to install on phones, tablets, or computers. There are countless options for VPN’s, however, here are a few that are popular:

  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish
  • Hotspot Shield
  • SaferVPN
  • TunnelBear
  • CyberGhost

A common reason kids use a VPN is to get around parental controls.  Bypassing controls  allows access to whatever may be blocked whether it be games, pornographic sites, or streaming platforms. If there are time restrictions set through parental controls, a VPN can be downloaded which would surpass the restrictions allowing more time. Additionally, the VPN would travel with them to school, circumventing any school-wide filters and firewalls, and granting access to anything and everything, without a trace. Bottom line, if your child is using a VPN you will have no knowledge or control over their internet use and for that reason, it is imperative to find out.

How can I tell if my kid is using a VPN?

If you suspect something, the first step would be to ask them directly. Don’t beat around the bush, simply ask them if they use a VPN and why. That’s when you can dig into the device itself.  

On iPhones, type “VPN” into the search bar. Does anything pop up? Next, check the top left of the screen for a little icon next to the service provider name… the icon will simply read “VPN”. If you still haven’t found anything, go to the app store and see if a VPN app has ever been downloaded by following these steps:

  • Touch the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the App Store
  • Type “VPN” into the search bar at the top
  • Search for apps that have the download cloud next to them.  If you find a cloud, it means they’ve downloaded one at some point, but they may not have it anymore. If it says OPEN, they are currently using one. If it says GET, they’ve never downloaded it with that Apple ID

For Androids, touch the icon on the main screen that holds the apps. In the search bar at the top, type in “VPN”. Then go to the Google Play store and investigate. Search for “VPN” and click through some different VPN apps looking for buttons that say UNINSTALL and OPEN. If you find either of those, it means the app is on the phone somewhere. One last way of checking is to swipe down on the home screen and if there’s a VPN running, you should see a notification.

*Be aware that VPN software can be downloaded on laptops and desktops as well. If you have suspicions, explore the internet connection and software on these devices.  

What can I do if I find out that my child is using a VPN?

  • Don’t jump to conclusions and be accusatory. You want them to open up and be honest. Give them the opportunity to explain themselves in an atmosphere of care and safety.
  • If the VPN has been downloaded for dishonest reasons, delete the VPN from their phone and set parental controls blocking the App Store (for iPhones) or Google Play (for Androids) so they won’t be able to redownload it.  
  • Talk to your kids about the importance of this issue. Explain to them that you want to respect their privacy, but hiding their activity from you isn’t honest. Help them understand that rules are set because of safety concerns and out of love.
  • Follow up. Check their phones regularly and engage in frequent conversation about technology. Help them learn to be wise stewards of their devices.

Your kids need you. They need your loving, concerned heart and your time. To help continue the conversation about the importance of honesty as well as other vital topics, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child.  

Or check our latest book, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age. Full of lively, timely discussions about changing technology, social media, using tech for good, and so much more!

Jamie recently graduated with her degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. She currently lives in the greater Seattle area and works as a nanny. Seeking adventure, truth, and strong relationships are her recipe for happiness, and she hopes to help others find similar joy through her writing.  

How are Kids Hiding their Online Activity? More Ways Than You Can Count

How are Kids Hiding their Online Activity? More Ways Than You Can Count

By Jamie Siggard


This is part two in a two-part series. To see part two click here.


Gone are the days when parents could check their child’s internet browsing history to see all the websites they’ve been to. While that’s still a worthwhile practice, it’s only a small piece of the pie. Kids are on to their parents and have found new ways to hide their internet activity. At the beginning of this article, you’ll find potential ways kids hide their internet activity, be sure to read to the bottom though, you’ll find ways to counteract these attempts. With that being said, first and foremost, be sure to have open, candid, yet compassionate conversations with your child in regards to technology! Seek to understand them and be on their team.  

Private Browsing

Private Browsing, Privacy Mode, and Incognito Mode are privacy features that disable browsing history and the *web cache. This allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved later.

Google Chrome – Incognito Mode

Internet Explorer – InPrivate

Safari – Private Browsing

Firefox – Private Browsing

You may wonder if these modes are truly private. Nope. True privacy on the internet is hard to achieve. These privacy modes don’t hide browsing history from employers, your internet service provider, and the websites visited– however, that doesn’t give you, as the parent, access to this browsing history.  

So, what’s a way around this?

The tech-savvy folk at ITECHTICS give pointers to simply just disable the privacy modes

TOR Browser

“The Onion Router” (TOR), is comparable to a VPN. However, one of the key differences is that there is not just one “middle man”. The data goes through layers of encryption and decryption, which makes the data and location inaccessible to anyone and nearly impossible to track.

TOR browsers can be downloaded on computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Proxy Sites

Similar to a VPN, proxy sites are one way of hiding the activity from sites you visit. The history and ISP records will show the innocent proxy site rather than, hypothetically, www.pornography& There are lots of proxy sites, paid and unpaid, and they are incredibly easy to access.

Here are a few proxy sites to be mindful of should they come up on your kids’ internet history or through your monitoring software:

*Keep in mind there are TONS of proxy sites….some words to watch for in *URLs on your internet history or monitoring software are: proxy, hide secret, or anything else seemingly suspicious

Proxy sites can hide activity for a time and help kids get around parental blocks, however, they’re generally not reliable or even safe.

Different WiFi

Internet access is everywhere! When your kids are out and about, they have many opportunities to either use other devices or connect to a wifi network. Starbucks and McDonalds, are among a variety of public places, which have little to NO blocks or controls on their wifi, which allows kids to access anything! Libraries and schools also offer wifi, perhaps with some restrictions, but needless to say, the control is not in your hands.  

That’s not all, if they think you are monitoring their activity, they can access a neighbor’s wifi and fly under the radar even at home. Wireless routers are capable of beaming signal a few hundred feet, which depending on the proximity of your neighbors home, could give your child reliable wifi within your own walls. Even if your neighbor’s wifi network is locked, it’s easy for your child to spend some time at their house and ask for the password which will then allow them continuous access. Some networks are not secured by a password which makes access even easier.  

Fake Educational Sites

There are sites that sound fun and educational but perhaps deserve a closer look. For example, if your child asks you if they can spend some time doing math online, be aware of the sites they’re using. While or aren’t inherently bad, these platforms are about entertainment and have very little educational value. The names of gaming sites may put on a facade which will help kids hide their internet activity from you. Arcade and other mindless games that these sites offer don’t deserve the attention we sometimes permit our children to give to them.  

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

For those tech-savvy kids out there (which is most kids!), they may have beat the system and installed a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that allows you to access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server which hides your online actions from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Essentially, the ISP data is gibberish if obtained.

A common reason kids use a VPN is to get around parental controls. VPN’s are used for other reasons such as to guard privacy or connect to a work-related server. If you have any suspicions your child may be using a VPN it is essential to inquire (with love and understanding) and remove it from their devices.

Snapchat or Other Messaging Services

There are various means of activity for hiding messages. Some kids will intentionally delete messages upon arrival and others use self-destructing message apps. Below are a few common self-destructing apps:


Snapchat isn’t inherently good or bad, but you should be aware of the potential dangers. Snapchat is an incredibly popular app for exchanging self-destructing photos with short captions – videos can be exchanged as well. Because of the self-destructing feature, Snapchat is popular for *sexting.  


“For those interested in maximum privacy, Telegram offers Secret Chats. Secret Chat messages can be programmed to self-destruct automatically from both participating devices. This way you can send all types of disappearing content – messages, photos, videos, and even files. Secret Chats use end-to-end encryption to ensure that a message can only be read by its intended recipient” (Telegram LLC).

Wickr Me

Wickr is one of the free Self Destructing Message Apps for iPhones. It enables you to send text, picture, audio and video which will delete the messages after a short delay.

*There are TONS of self-destructing apps, far more than we can list, however, here’s a few more to be aware of:


Secret for iMessage



Secret Picture Apps or Photo Vaults

There are secret picture apps and hidden photo vaults. Pictures and information are hidden in these apps only accessible by password. These apps may be disguised as a calculator or something else rather innocent. Seems fishy, huh? If kids are wanting to hide their activity, this is a brilliant way because most parents would be completely unassuming about what appears to be just a calculator. And those that may stand out a bit more as photo vaults, as mentioned, are password protected, so even if you were to come across it, you wouldn’t have access without the password.

Here are some apps and photo vaults that kids may be using to hide information and pictures.   

Private Photo Vault

Best Secret Folder

Keepsafe Photo Vault

Secret Calculator

Secret Photo Album

Hidden Folder – Built-in to phone

Close or Minimize Browser When Parents Are Near

This one goes without explaining, but is important to remember as it is the easiest and most commonly used method of hiding one’s internet activity. Can you sense discomfort or secrecy when you are around your kids and their devices? With this one, as well as all other ways we’ve listed, don’t jump to immediate conclusions. Be respectful and kind to your children, but proceed with alertness, follow your gut, and don’t be afraid to do some investigating.

Bypass Through Other Means

Interestingly enough, kids can hide internet activity by using Google Translate, Google Docs, and Google Drive. I won’t dive into these but the point is, there are so many ways kids can hide their activity. If they’re determined, they’ll find a way!!!

What Should You Do?

Talk about it!

The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough. Have open, candid, and compassionate conversations with your child in regards to technology. Seek to understand them and be on their team. Talk to them about the harmful effects of pornography and what to do if they see pornography. Discuss the importance of time limits and rules when using the internet and technology. If you are concerned about their online behavior, talk to them about it. These conversations about technology should be ongoing, not just “one and done”.  

Monitoring Software

Consider investing money into monitoring software. There are many softwares to choose from with varying features, but the main gist is that activity from the connected devices is monitored by the admin (in this case, you, as the parent) to help safeguard and protect users.


“The pcTattletale Activity Recorder is designed to monitor Computers, Smartphones & Tablets.

Once installed, pcTattletale records every click, tap, and keystroke.  Captured Recordings can be viewed, remotely, from Anywhere, at Anytime, from Any Device.”


“Log into your risk-free account and select any device (Android, iPhone, PC, Mac or Chromebook) to monitor discretely from your secure online account. All products install easily in 5 minutes or less, are discrete and thus tamper-proof, and all recorded data is sent to a secure web-based account which allows you to monitor remotely from any device at your convenience.

View all Recorded Data or leverage our Alert Log, which highlights only items identified as Risky Behavior. Either way, Webwatcher helps you become a responsible digital parent by protecting your kids against all online and offline dangers.”

McAfee Safe Family

“We encourage positive parent-child interactions and help establish trust and peace of mind in an ever-mobile, ever-social, ever-changing world.  

McAfee Safe Family is a comprehensive parental control app that enables you to monitor your kids’ phone activities and protects your children from exposure to inappropriate digital content. It sets up a child lock that blocks inappropriate apps, monitors your kids’ cell phones, locates their position with a GPS map using the phone tracker feature and limits their screen time.”


“The KidGuard Phone Monitoring service is a cell phone tracking software provided to parents to “spy” on their kids text messages, monitor GPS location, track phone logs, chats, allowing the parent to stay on top of issues such as cyberbullying, online predators, teen depression, and other risks to their children arising from the internet.”

Covenant Eyes

“Covenant Eyes’ revolutionary new Screen Accountability™ service monitors what you do on your computers, phones, and tablets, whether you’re using a web browser or on an app or even offline completely. We take periodic screenshots and analyze them for explicit content. These highly blurred screenshots are sent in a report, as well as a sampling of other screenshots. That way you can have a conversation about what your kids actually saw on their devices.”

Set Parental Controls

On Apple devices, Parental Controls, also known as Restrictions, allows you to set what your kids can and can’t access on their phones and tablets. With Parental Controls, you can lock out Safari, Camera, FaceTime, Siri, AirDrop, iTunes, Podcasts, or App Stores (including in-app purchases), as well as content by age rating, and the ability to make changes to accounts and other app settings. Basically, these controls allow you to block anything you deem as inappropriate for your child based on their age and needs.  

If your not an Apple family, Google Play often used with Androids has similar parental control options. Be aware and utilize the parental controls on Netflix, Youtube, and other services your kids use, as well.  

Extra Info: If you restrict Safari, be sure to restrict “Installing Apps” as well. It is easy for children to simply just download another internet browser if Safari is restricted. This applies to many other restrictions as well such as FaceTime, Podcasts, and Camera.

Random Phone Checks

At unpredictable times, ask your kids to turn in their electronic devices to you immediately for a random phone check. They may hesitate and tell you they will give it to you in a few minutes, but require that it be immediate so they don’t have time to delete or hide anything. Spend some time checking their apps, messages, and phone logs. Check to see if a VPN is running. Check for any evidence of TOR. Keep an open dialogue with your children and let them know that you do this to keep them safe.

Stay on your kids’ team. Engage in conversation frequently and help them understand the importance of using technology responsibly. Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good to help facilitate more conversations about technology and its effects.  

Or check our latest book, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age. Full of lively, timely discussions about changing technology, social media, using tech for good, and so much more!

ISP: Internet Service Provider

Sexting: sending (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone

URL: the address of an internet page

Web cache: A web cache (or HTTP cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce server lag.


Jamie recently graduated with her degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. She currently lives in the greater Seattle area and works as a nanny. Seeking adventure, truth, and strong relationships are her recipe for happiness, and she hopes to help others find similar joy through her writing.  


Our Newest Book That Every Parent Should Read

Our Newest Book That Every Parent Should Read


Introducing Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age

By Dina Alexander, MS

Parenting in the digital age has never been tougher. It seems the world is changing around us at an ever-increasing speed with new technology, massive amounts of information, and new dangers lurking everywhere.

At school and in our communities our kids are talking about BIG topics and they have questions. Whether it is about technology, racism, feminism, LGBTQI issues, terrorism, the environment, social media, or whatever, it’s time for us as caring adults to combine our wisdom and their savvy to strengthen and empower one another.

To address these newer, more challenging concerns, Educate and Empower Kids has created a brilliant new resource for parents and teachers, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.

Comprised of five sections (Technology, The World Around Us, Relationships, Self-Improvement, and Deeper Topics) with 30 unique topics, Conversations gives you the words and handy discussion questions to have meaningful talks about the real issues of the day. Addressing tough topics on an ongoing basis strengthens kids, brings you closer together, and opens the door when your kids need to tell you something REALLY important.

The 30 Conversations include the following:

Changing Technologies

Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Healthy Sexuality

Marriage, Family & Divorce


Overcoming Fears

Finding Real Joy



Racism and Tolerance

Social Classes: Rich and Poor



Every kid is faced with a huge variety of pressures on every side: to conform, to lose hope, to give up, to push down feelings, to escape hard work and challenges, to not stand up for themselves and others, and to avoid following one’s heart and mind, among others.

We can help our kids face the challenges of the digital age by connecting with them in deep, meaningful conversations about important topics, including some of the struggles they now face or will in the future. This is what inspired us to write Conversations!

Connecting with our kids begins with simple, daily interactions. Use these simple conversation starters to talk about deep issues. Have fun as you tackle these topics, even the heavy ones. Find the humor in tough talks and learn to lighten up as you help your kids face life’s challenges.

Ready to start talking? Find Conversations with My Kids on Amazon.

Check out all of our amazing resources to help you be the parent your kids need as they navigate the digital age!

Educate your kids. Empower them. Prepare them for life.


Dina Alexander is the founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids, an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. In the last year, she wrote the children’s books Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure and Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, and co-wrote Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image.

For adults, she and her team created How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. Dina has taught in various capacities for the past 20 years, including marriage enhancement, art for small children and group fitness. She has also worked with teenage girls in a residential treatment setting, adults with drug addictions and special needs children. She is a dedicated, wholehearted mom of three children and loves spending time with them and her amazing husband. Together, they live in Texas.


4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image

4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image


By Courtney Cagle


Most of us have struggled with body image at one point or another. I remember struggling a lot my first year of college. Being away from home, around lots of other beautiful girls, and not receiving the compliments about my looks that I received often at home was hard for me. I started to feel that I wasn’t pretty enough, my legs weren’t skinny enough, my breasts were too small, and the list goes on and on. So, how did I overcome this? Well, I didn’t completely–I don’t think anyone ever does. I still sometimes struggle with body image, but it’s something that I’m getting better at.

Parents often worry about body image when it comes to their kids. But don’t worry! We can help our kids feel better about their bodies, but it does take some mental work from them and lots of love from us.

Here are 4 ways you and your children can work toward healthy body image:

1) Make a list of all of your wonderful attributes (at least 10!). If you make a list of the qualities and attributes that you possess that aren’t related to your looks, it will make you feel more confident in yourself and your abilities. You are unique and have so much to offer that isn’t related to the way you look. Understand that looks aren’t everything.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

What is something you are good at?

Why am I loveable?

What are all the ways that I help others?

2) Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself just the way you are. This might feel silly at first, but I promise that it helps. It’s prevents you from looking in the mirror and criticizing yourself and instead helps you to accept yourself. At first, you won’t believe yourself, but over time, you actually believe what you’re saying in the mirror.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

When you look in the mirror, what do you usually say?

How does it make you feel?

When you look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself, how does it make you feel?

3) Be media literate and deconstruct images you view. Media literacy is defined as the ability to analyze and evaluate media. Being media literate helps kids and adults to understand what the media is trying to portray. When we deconstruct images, we take them apart and evaluate their purpose. This helps us foster a positive body image because it allows us to see the tricks the media uses and makes us realize that many of the images we see are unrealistic.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

Look at an ad with your child. What is it trying to sell? Why do ads try to sell perfection?

Look at a magazine together. Does the person on the cover look like any real people you know? Why or why not?

Visit our Kids Activity Page for related exercises!

4) Accept your strengths and weaknesses. We ALL have weaknesses. We ALL have strengths. It’s good to recognize your weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them. Focus on your strengths. Understand that it’s okay to have weaknesses because we all do, but don’t let that fill your mind with negative thoughts. You have wonderful strengths that you can utilize. Maybe you don’t see them at the moment, but you will (Halsted, 2016). Ask a family member or a friend to list a strength they see in you, then hold onto that and remind yourself. Don’t focus on the way you look or the way others see you. Instead, focus on the strengths you have and what you bring to the table.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What are some of your perceived weaknesses ?

How can weaknesses help to make you stronger?

Do I focus on my weaknesses too much?

What are some of your strengths?

How can you use them in your life?

Teach your kids that they have much to offer besides their body. Our bodies have many abilities that have nothing to do with our size, shape, or the way we look. We can work through negative body image by using these steps and applying them to life on a daily basis. Help children to understand this and if you are struggling with body image, use these tips in your life too!

For more information on teaching your kids about body image, check out our books on body image. To discuss this topic with boys, check out Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image. To discuss this topic with girls, check out Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image.

For more ideas about discussing media literacy check out this podcast or our read-along book, Petra’s Power to See.

Courtney is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.



Alexander, D. (2018, April 24). A Lesson About Media Literacy. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from,6638898712412160:0

Halsted, E. (2016, February 22). How to Have a Positive Body Image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from

Wardenburg Health Services. (2018, January 16). Healthy Buffs: Developing a positive body image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from

Cómo los padres pueden ayudar a los niños a superar la adicción a la pornografía

Cómo los padres pueden ayudar a los niños a superar la adicción a la pornografía


Mary Ann Benson, M.S.W., L.S.W.

Traducido por L. Antonio Mayen Castellanos


La adicción ha sido definida como:

 “Una enfermedad primaria, crónica de recompensa cerebral, motivación, memoria y circuitos relacionados. Esto se refleja en un individuo que persigue patológicamente la recompensa y / o el alivio mediante el uso de sustancias y otros comportamientos. Se caracteriza por la incapacidad de abstenerse constantemente, el deterioro en el control de la conducta, el deseo, la disminución del reconocimiento de problemas significativos con los comportamientos y las relaciones interpersonales, y una respuesta emocional disfuncional. Al igual que otras enfermedades crónicas, la adicción a menudo involucra ciclos de recaída y remisión. Sin tratamiento o participación en actividades de recuperación, la adicción es progresiva y puede resultar en discapacidad o muerte prematura ” (ASAM, n.d.).

En nuestra cultura, cuando ocurren los síntomas físicos, hacemos una cita con nuestro médico de atención primaria para abordar nuestras inquietudes. La adicción a menudo se basa en los síntomas emocionales o mentales que nos sentimos incapaces de curar porque parecen ser menos concretos. Así que los ignoramos y nos involucramos en conductas adictivas para aliviar esos síntomas. Desafortunadamente, nuestros comportamientos son solo un respiro temporal de nuestro malestar emocional. No hemos llegado a la verdadera fuente de nuestro desequilibrio emocional y el ciclo de la adicción continúa, y generalmente aumenta. Como padres de niños que luchan por superar la adicción a la pornografía, hay algunos pasos simples que puede tomar para ayudar a su hijo en su camino hacia la recuperación.

1.Reconoce la adicción. Es necesario que haya discusiones continuas y francas sobre la naturaleza de la adicción que su hijo inicia. Este es a menudo el paso más difícil en el proceso de recuperación, y debe responderse de manera sensible y positiva. Su hijo debe ser felicitado por presentarse con información tan difícil.

2. Ofrezca amor y apoyo incondicionales. Su hijo necesita saber que usted estará disponible para ayudarlo sin importar lo que resulte ser el proceso de recuperación. Eso significa que usted seguirá brindando apoyo si se producen recaídas, que a menudo son probables.

3. Facilite la exploración de opciones de tratamiento, que incluyen asesoramiento individual y / o reuniones de recuperación de adicciones. Su hijo debe tener la oportunidad de participar en la elección de un consejero con el que él o ella pueda involucrarse, con su opinión para asegurar que el profesional tenga las credenciales y la experiencia necesarias para satisfacer las necesidades de su hijo. Si el niño es joven (menor de 12 años), el padre debe tener la responsabilidad de elegir al terapeuta. Las reuniones de recuperación de la adicción pueden no ser apropiadas para niños pequeños, y ese problema podría explorarse con el terapeuta.

4. Abstenerse de hacer que su hijo se sienta culpable o avergonzado. La vergüenza y la culpa no tienen cabida en el proceso de recuperación. Son contraproducentes para el progreso y solo sabotearán el éxito de su hijo para superar el comportamiento adictivo.

5. Explore las necesidades emocionales que se están satisfaciendo con la participación de su hijo con la pornografía. Pregúntele a su hijo qué fue lo que lo impulsó a participar en la visualización de material pornográfico por primera vez. ¿Fue para llenar algún déficit emocional? ¿Funcionó?

6. Explore comportamientos alternativos y saludables que podrían satisfacer las necesidades emocionales de su hijo. Ayude a su hijo a descubrir la variedad de actividades y pasatiempos saludables y positivos que pueden satisfacer sus necesidades emocionales y contribuir a su salud emocional.

7. Respete la privacidad de su hijo. Este tema profundamente personal debe seguir siendo un asunto privado que se comparte de forma selectiva y solo con el permiso de su hijo. La recuperación puede verse comprometida si alguien siente que todos los observan y esperan que fracasen. Es necesario que exista un círculo limitado de personas involucradas en las dinámicas diarias de la recuperación de su hijo.

8. Enseñe a su hijo la autorregulación, que es la capacidad de modular el sistema nervioso (emociones). Esta tarea debe ser aprendida en la infancia o la adolescencia. Esta es una tarea desafiante cuando los niños suelen ser impulsivos y buscan recompensas instantáneas, que tienen un fuerte vínculo con la adicción. Más que cualquier otro factor, la autorregulación se correlaciona con una vida exitosa. (Laird, R., n.d.)

9. Cree un sistema de refuerzo positivo (que no implique dinero o alimentos) que validará los esfuerzos y el progreso de su hijo. Tener incentivos para un comportamiento positivo es poderoso, y planificar una salida o actividad especial a medida que su hijo progresa puede ser un motivador significativo para el cambio.

10. Seguir hablando. Manténgase en contacto constante con los sentimientos de su hijo mientras atraviesan el difícil proceso de superar una adicción. Un proceso ocurre con un pequeño paso a la vez. Camine junto a su hijo mientras emprende este desafiante viaje hacia la recuperación y la paz. Compartir esta experiencia profunda con su hijo creará un vínculo que será extremadamente significativo para ambos.

Para obtener más información sobre este tema, consulte nuestro libro Cómo hablar con sus hijos sobre la pornografía.


Definition of Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2015 from

Laird, R. (n.d.) Americans and Technology, Ideas for Parents and Kids, Retrieved January 22, 2015.

Lección: Usando la tecnología para bien

Lección: Usando la tecnología para bien



La tecnología en nuestros días, ha sido tanto una bendición como una maldición. Se ofrece una oportunidad para un avance tremendo, mientras que a la vez a menudo sofoca las conexiones sociales significativas, permitiéndonos ignorarnos fácilmente incluso en la misma habitación.


Es importante para todos nosotros, especialmente para los niños, saber dónde, cuándo y cómo es apropiado usar la tecnología de manera positiva.

Descarga la lección aquí

Desafia a tu familia para que sus interacciones con los medios sean más positivas. Establece una meta para publicar solo cosas positivas por una semana. Anima a los miembros de la familia a compartir ejemplos edificantes, informativos o humorísticos.


Vea todos nuestros libros aquí.