Sunday, Nov. 8, parents are warned to watch out for a secret mobile sexting photo app being shared on their teens’ smart phones. The secret app is alleged to be at the center of a high school sexting ring scandal in Canon City, Colorado causing the high school to suspend students involved and forfeit its final football game of the season. More than 100 kids involved in the scandal in that small Colorado community ranged in age from middle schoolers to varsity high school football players, playing what amounted to a “digital game of cat-and-mouse,” texting nude photos they wanted to keep hidden from their parents, said ABC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo. According to the Sunday morning report on Good Morning America, these type apps are becoming so popular that Blount County, Alabama district attorney, Pamela Casey warned parents via video, “I know that if one child knows about it, many children know about it. So take a minute; grab that phone.”
An anonymous tipster called officials this past week to reveal that hundreds of students had used what is becoming known as the Vault App to share nearly 400 nude photos by phone, preventing their parents from seeing certain texts and photos. This latest way teens have begun to keep secrets on their phones, according to tech and data experts, looks similar to the standard calculator or a media player. When you enter the secret password created by your child into the app and hit the percent key, a photo album is accessed with hidden pictures that your child did not want you to see.
Yahoo Tech Magazine editor-in-chief, Dan Tynan, told GMA about this trend in September, hinting that this app could be “used by children to hide texts, images and videos from prying eyes” and “are drawing warnings and concern from officials and parents.” Tynan said two months ago, “The problem with these apps is they allow kids to hide their cyber-lives from their parents, and sometimes the things they are hiding can harm them.” The best security against these type apps is the parent turning off the child’s ability to download or install any app without parental approval, to limit their password restrictions on the phone and paying attention to their online usage and activities.
In Colorado, this could mean felony charges for child pornography. Authorities are investigating the incident. If any underage students were coerced into taking part in the sexting and if any adults were found to be involved, felony charges may be brought against those individuals. Officials are also concerned over the possibility that minors’ privacy may have been violated and whether to charge any minors with that violation.