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Kids' Phone Safety Blog

Technology Tricks for Parents: How to Find Hidden Apps on Android

June 15, 2016
find hidden apps

Everybody who owns a smart mobile device wants to be its sovereign user. Especially, when it comes to children, the desire for privacy and supreme gadget control is most apparent. Android devices are extremely popular among kids for their relatively low price and multiple features.

Unfortunately, in most cases, children tend to conceal their device activity from parents using different methods to disguise apps or content. In order to reassure themselves in media content security and individual access to their smartphone, kids often use various tricks. They set passwords, use misleading names for folders, or hide apps using native Android functionality or additional software. The main reasons kids camouflage personal content and protect the device from parents’ interaction are:

  • To conceal social network or blogging activity. Sadly, but for kids, it’s very common to exchange inappropriate stuff via the Internet. For some of them, it’s a typical practice to post or send explicit sexual materials and use the offensive or discriminatory content. Thus, you as a parent are often unlikely to find an icon of Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or even YouTube on their mobile desktop.
kids hide applications

Source: yahoo.com

  • To hide texting, dating or live-streaming video apps. Often, the content exchanged might be aggressive, dark, or just nasty. Therefore, kids don’t want parents to see what they send and receive via such apps as WhatsApp, Viber, SnapChat, and ooVoo installed on their phone or tablet.

  • Children tend to hide games or apps that they are infatuated with. Quite often, kids like to spend hours playing games on a device. Besides, there are tons of violent games, perverted or sex apps available for free. Thereby, a kid would rather hide an app than get caught and punished.

There are multiple ways to hide or mask apps on Android, both available originally with the OS or offered by special applications. Hiding apps on Android is not a big deal. But what can parents do to unhide those apps or reveal the content that is out of sight?

First and foremost, it is important to simply check the device apps settings. Just by going to settings >> apps >> all, we can see the complete list of apps currently installed. Then, tap the entry for the application to unhide, and when the app’s ‘Details’ screen opens tap the ‘Enable’ option.

mobile tricks for parents

Source: youtube.com

Also, by using a file explorer an Android device initially comes with, it is possible to figure out hidden apps, images, videos, etc. Just do the following:

  1. Go to a file manager.
  2. Pick up a file category you want to browse, or just go “to all files”.
  3. Open the menu and proceed to the settings.
  4. In settings you should find a list item called “show hidden files.”
  5. Tap it mark, and go find hidden stuff!

Talking about images, in particular, the procedure of revealing hidden pictures is the same as above, but using the ‘Gallery.’ The difference is that you need to go to ‘Gallery’ and select a folder with individual images. Then, just go to menu>>settings>> disable hidden images. Despite that, there are file sharing apps like Shareit, Xionee or Xender. This software allows to hide and unhide Android apps through settings likewise.

Then, hidden apps on Android can sit just on the screen, but they are disguised in a way that nobody would even guess. There are so-called “ghost apps” that can mask an application just by substituting the original icon. Now, parents, go and check an innocent calculator app or any other icon that doesn’t even have a suspicious title. Who knows, maybe a usual calculator icon has a truly displeasing app concealed behind or something you would never wish your kid to use.

finding hidden apps

Source: plus.google.com

It should be also considered that kids like to use a special apps hider for Android. Today, AppLock, App Defender, Privacy Manager and Privacy Master are widely used by juniors. These applications are simple in use and allow setting passwords to keep content or personal apps away from someone else’s except the owner’s eyes. If you see an icon associated with privacy or defense, there is a reason to be alerted. Surely, there might be nothing bad behind it, but it is still worth checking with the kid about what these apps are being used for.

Besides, there also may be secret apps on Android or hidden spyware that children are not even aware of. Just keep in mind that this stuff might also affect your kids or reveal their personal info. So, when looking for hidden apps on Android, don’t forget to check strange and unknown ones.

The best practice to prevent children from hiding or using inappropriate apps is communication. A parent is always an example for a kid; a grown-up should be a person to look up to and address for advice. Besides, there are plenty of parental control apps allowing to monitor and filter kids’ devices and Internet activity. So, in order to protect your child from dangerous and abusive impact that a modern device is capable of causing, it is crucial to talk – even and especially when you intend to use parental control software for their devices.

Have you ever tried to find hidden apps on your kids’ devices? Share your stories in comments!

Petra Lipfer
Petra Lipfer is a freelance blogger living in Orlando, Florida. She is passionate about everything concerting writing and the Internet. She is married and has two beautiful kids. She has a degree in Management and has taken several IT courses. Petra is a certified specialist in child online security. She enjoys blogging on everything concerning children, their security and parenthood in general. You can contact

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