20 Secret Text Messaging Apps: Everything that Parents Need to Know
Text messaging is now the most popular form of digital communication. However, this convenience has a cost for parents as teenagers are now using secret text messaging apps to speak with their friends without their knowledge.
These secret messaging apps are, potentially, hazardous as they make children accessible to predators, cyberbullies, and other negative individuals. To avoid this, we have put together this article which covers 20 of the most popular hidden text messaging services that parents should look out for to protect their children. We’ll discuss the features of each app, and provide advice on how they can keep an eye on their children’s online activity to keep them safe from online threats.
- Our Top Picks of Apps With Hidden Chat
- Signal Private Messenger: The Most Private App
- Kik: Play Games With Bots
- Telegram: The Group Messaging App
- Calculator Pro+: The Disguised Chat App
- Messages Lite: The Text Messaging App
- Wickr Me: The Video Conferencing App
- Viber: The Sticker App
- Threema: The Secure App
- Silence: Android Private Messaging App
- Dust: Privacy Watchdog
- Wire: Corporate Collaboration Tool
- CoverMe: The Disappearing App
- Utopia: Anonymous Internet Browsing
- Mattermost: The Collaboration App
- Snapchat: Live Videos and Pictures
- Hago: The Gaming App
- Plato: The Gaming App for Teenagers
- AmongChat: The Among Us Messaging App
- Yubo: The App for Making New Friends
- RecRoom: The Immersive Private Messaging App
- How Can I Keep My Children Safe From the Dangers of Secret Messaging Apps?
Our Top Picks of Apps With Hidden Chat
|Secret Texting Apps||Hidden Chat Features|
|Signal Private Messenger||
Signal Private Messenger: The Most Private App
Signal Private Messenger is a very popular private messaging app with millions of daily users. Its popularity has recently grown among those under 16 due to WhatsApp introducing age restrictions.
The app has end-to-end encryption prohibiting anyone but the sender and recipient from accessing the messages. This means that all communication within the app is completely private, protecting children’s data online.
Parents are able to further ensure their children’s digital safety by limiting permissions within the app. For instance, they are able to stop the app from accessing the storage of the device so their children are not able to send high-resolution pictures or videos. Moreover, they can also prevent voice and video calls and photo messages by denying access to the camera and microphone. This is a significant benefit of the Signal app.
However, the app does have some disadvantages which include the dependency on a phone number for account creation. This means that predators will be able to access young users’ private details.
- End-to-end encryption
- Personalizable permissions
- Any messages sent within the app are not seen by the Signal team
Kik: Play Games With Bots
Kik is an instant messaging app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices for those over the age of 13. Anyone under the age of 18 must have their parent’s permission before using the app.
Kik gives children the opportunity to send texts, pictures, and GIFs to group chats with up to 49 of their friends. However, if these group chats are set to public, anyone can join them. This means that predators are able to join these chats and send inappropriate messages or content.
Furthermore, if a teen on the app is added to a large group chat, everyone within the group chat will be able to see their username. This enables strangers to add teens on the app and strike up private conversations with them. To stop this from happening, the app has built-in parental controls which give parents the ability to manage all of the messages coming and going out of their teenager’s account. Moreover, teens are able to block and report any users who message them inappropriately.
- Group chat capabilities
- Send pictures and GIFs
- In-built web browser
- Bots to play games with
Telegram: The Group Messaging App
Telegram first came out back in 2013 and is comparable to other messenger apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Using the Telegram app, teenagers are able to send messages over Wi-Fi or mobile data.
The key benefits of the app are that it does not share its user’s information with third parties, and messages between users disappear after a certain amount of time, protecting the privacy and safety of teens using the app.
The app is designed for those over 16 and is most used by those aged 25 to 34 years old.
The danger with Telegram is that teenagers are able to join groups that have up to 200,000 members, the majority of whom will be strangers. This exposes teens on the app to online predators and other dangerous individuals.
Parents should also be aware of the app’s passcode lock which is one of the hidden chat features. This stops parents from being able to access or monitor their children’s online communications.
- Privacy features
- You are able to see when users are online, or when they were last on the app
- Passcode lock
- Users are able to set up surveys or quizzes and get immediate feedback from other users
Calculator Pro+: The Disguised Chat App
as far as secret messaging apps go, Calculator Pro+ is one of the best. This is because it is disguised as a calculator, making it near impossible for parents to recognize that it is a messaging app.
One of the hidden chats’ features ensures that secret conversations remain hidden, even when the app is open. The only way parents can access their children’s chats is to enter a secret 4-digit code into the calculator.
In a sense, the app is very similar to a secret door in a house. Whilst this may seem cool on the surface, it can be dangerous for children and teenagers. This is because many parents fail to identify that Calculator Pro+ is a messaging app, leaving them unable to monitor their children’s communications via the app. Note that the app is open to all ages!
- Passcode lock
- Masquerades as a calculator
- Hidden SMS/MMS
Messages Lite: The Text Messaging App
a new kid on the block, Messages Lite is a 100% free private messaging app. It utilizes the Telegram API for end-to-end encryption to ensure teenagers communicate safely online.
Parents should note that one of the key benefits of the Messages Lite app is that it can be used to contact individuals who do not use the app. The app will simply convert the message into a text or iMessage. This is great if children want to use the app—but their parents don’t!
The app is popular amongst younger children thanks to its built-in voice filters and personalizable themes and text bubble colors. However, a significant drawback of this popularity is that the app may become inundated with predators who are keen to converse with children online.
- Contact people who don’t have the app via text message
- Personalizable themes and bubble colors
- Voice filters
Wickr Me: The Video Conferencing App
Wickr Me is Amazon’s messaging platform, which was designed to give users a more secure way to send texts, videos, voice notes, and photos. Whilst this added protection is beneficial as it protects children’s data, it makes it easier for them to conceal their online activities.
Parents should note that the app has been shrouded in controversy. For example, a recent NBC article claimed that the app has a child sex abuse problem. So, if parents notice their children are using this app, it is imperative that they have open discussions with them about internet safety.
Generally, Wickr Me is one of the secret chat apps that target an older, professional crowd thanks to its video conferencing, screen sharing and large file-sharing capabilities.
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
Viber: The Sticker App
Viber is one of the chat apps that gives teenagers the power to make free phone calls and send free text messages. This popular secret texting app is suitable for children over the age of 13. However, the app has a lot of younger users due to the thousands of free stickers that can be sent using the app. Parents should be aware that some of the stickers that are available for purchase in-app are not age appropriate. Our biggest tip is to turn off in-app purchases to restrict children from seeing these stickers!
Also, note that Viber has some negatives, the key one being that there is no capability for teenagers to block calls from unknown users, or to block other users on the app. This means that if someone is being inappropriate on the app, there is no way to stop them.
- Free calls and texts to any other Viber user
- Free stickers
- In-app picture lenses
Threema: The Secure App
Threema employs end-to-end encryption to guarantee that teenagers can text and make phone calls without worrying about their conversations being listened to by third parties. The app also employs several additional security measures to protect user privacy such as the deletion of messages from the server once they have been delivered.
A great thing about the Threema app is that children are able to block users or certain devices that are bothering them. Moreover, children do not have to give any private information to sign up to the app which enables them to stay anonymous on the internet.
The only drawback of the Threema app is that it asks for its user’s GPS location. This could be potentially dangerous so we advise that parents tell their kids to keep their location turned off at all times!
Note that Threema does not have any age restriction.
- Disappearing messages
- Conduct polls in group chats
Silence: Android Private Messaging App
The Silence app encrypts traditional text messages using Signal’s end-to-end encryption. This offers children increased security and privacy when sending regular text messages. However, this end-to-end encryption does not apply when children message individuals not using the Silence app which may leave their data exposed to hackers.
The app can be downloaded and used without cost. With this being said, the app uses SMS/MMS to send messages rather than the mobile internet network which could lead to a hefty phone bill!
Silence has no age restriction, and is only available for Android.
- Offers end-to-end encryption to regular text messages
- Available on Android
- Users can import all of their existing contacts into the app
- A secret keyboard that won’t keep track of user’s typing habits
Dust: Privacy Watchdog
Dust is one of the secret chat apps which enables teenagers to place calls and send messages without worrying that their data will be hacked. All communications on the app disappear after 24 hours and messages are erased 100 seconds after they have been read. It’s crucial that parents make their children aware that just because a message disappears does not mean it is gone forever.
Apps, such as Dust, encourage sexting among young adults which has very serious, negative consequences such as sextortion. However, the app has a number of advantages that include:
- A profile feature that enables parents to see who their child follows, and who follows them on the app.
- A number of amazing security features including a built-in privacy watchdog and stealth features to protect children whilst they use the app.
- The blast text feature gives its users the power to send messages to several contacts at once. This differs from a regular group chat as each user views and responds to the message privately
- Privacy Watchdog
- Disappearing messages
- Secure Sync feature
Wire: Corporate Collaboration Tool
Wire is a secure messaging app that is available for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Linux devices. Although the app uses end-to-end encryption, it collects far more metadata on its users than other private messaging apps. This data could be sold to third parties, leading to children being the victims of phishing attacks.
Wire can be used for messaging, voice calls, and video chat. It does not require a phone number to register which makes it more accessible to children who may have an iPad, but no phone yet.
It is important to note that Wire is a corporate collaboration tool first and foremost, so the majority of its users are professional, adults. If parents notice their child using the app, they should ensure that their children are aware that they should not be speaking with adults online.
- The ability for users to create polls
- Group chats
- Location sharing
CoverMe: The Disappearing App
CoverMe provides the highest level of privacy and security of all the secret chat apps discussed today. The app offers various privacy functionalities, including shaking the phone to turn the screen into a photo gallery, effectively blocking any messages on the app from being viewed. However, the danger of these privacy features is that it makes it easier for children to conceal their online conversations when their parents are in the vicinity.
Another app’s hidden chat feature is the passcode lock which makes it even more difficult for parents to track or monitor their children’s communications.
The app does have some significant benefits, however, which include:
- A call screening feature that gives children the ability to block unwanted callers.
- CoverMe provides its users with a unique phone number. This means that predators on the app are not able to get hold of children’s genuine phone numbers.
Parents should note that the app has a complicated payment plan, meaning users have to pay for individual features rather than for a monthly subscription package.
The app is open to all ages.
- Call screening
- Magical Notifications—designed to hide the details of a message
- Privacy features
- Passcode lock
Utopia: Anonymous Internet Browsing
Utopia is a private and secure communication platform, built on top of a decentralized peer-to-peer network that makes use of blockchain technology. It offers voice and video conferencing, file sharing, and secure and private messaging.
Children do not have to use their phone numbers to create an account which stops predators from getting access to their private details. However, the danger of the anonymity of the app is that children could end up falling victim to catfishes, which are people pretending to be someone else! Moreover, one of the app’s key hidden chat features, the anonymous browser, stops parents from being able to monitor what their children are doing online, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous content.
If parents would like to better monitor their children’s online activity, they should download the Kids360 app. This app enables them to monitor their child’s use of various phone applications!
- Anonymous browsing
- Secure phone and video calls
- File sharing
Mattermost: The Collaboration App
Self-hosted, open-source private messaging platform Mattermost was designed for team collaboration and communication. Generally, the app is targeted at businesses. However, the built-in custom emojis, themes, and plugins appeal to a younger audience.
Parents might notice their children using the app to speak in group chats. The danger of the MatterMost app is that if children aren’t careful, they might leave their chats in public mode enabling any MatterMost user to read them. Individuals with ill intent might then use their discussions against them in an attempt to extort them for money.
The app is open to all ages.
- Emojis and other plugins
- Channels for collaboration
- File sharing capability
Snapchat: Live Videos and Pictures
Snapchat is a well-known social media app that allows children over the age of 13 to share and receive images and videos with other users.
On the surface, Snapchat appears like innocent fun thanks to the entertaining filters, stickers, and BitMojis. However, without proper education and boundaries, Snapchat can have some serious consequences. For instance, sexting has seen a stark increase since the dawn of Snapchat. This is because content on the app disappears once the message has been read, making teens more inclined to send pictures or messages that they would not elsewhere.
Parents should make their children aware that even though the content does theoretically disappear, this does not stop the recipient from screenshotting and sharing the image.
- Disappearing messages
- Ability to send live videos and pictures
- Filters and lenses
Hago: The Gaming App
The Hago app offers its users a unique combination of socializing and gaming. It is very popular amongst young adults because it enables them to engage in gaming, whilst secretly communicating with their friends using Hago’s private messaging function.
However, due to the private messaging function being built-in into the gaming app, it may be more difficult for parents to monitor who their children are speaking to. This is worsened by the app’s weak privacy settings which means users of the app can be contacted by anyone or receive explicit messages from strangers. For this reason, the app is only suitable for individuals over the age of 17.
- Game while you chat
- Video chat
- Group messaging capabilities
Plato: The Gaming App for Teenagers
Plato is another gaming secret messaging app, whose target audience is teenagers. The app comes equipped with 45 games that children can play with their friends.
The issue is that the app gives users the option to play games against strangers on the internet, which leaves children vulnerable to manipulation or explicit content. Moreover, thanks to the private messaging feature being built-in into the gaming app, parents may have little idea that their children are conversing and playing games with complete strangers.
However, there is safeguarding in place to mitigate the risks associated with speaking to strangers. For example, the app offers children the ability to end conversations if someone says something they do not like or that is inappropriate.
If parents notice their teenager using this app, it is important that they make them aware that they should not be speaking with strangers online.
- Game while you chat
- Speak with people from all over the world
AmongChat: The Among Us Messaging App
among Us is a popular online multiplayer game, and AmongChat is the built-in messaging platform that enables children to chat as they play. As far as secret chat apps go, AmongChat is an extremely private messaging app as parents won’t be able to tell if their child is simply gaming, or talking to people online.
The danger with AmongChat is that it allows other players of the game to connect with and speak directly to any child without the child knowing who they are.
- The ability to private message whilst playing AmongUs
- Voice chat
- Video Calls
Yubo: The App for Making New Friends
Whilst you may not have heard of Yubo, it has become extremely popular amongst those aged 13-25 who make up 99% of the app’s users. Although the app is rated ‘teen’, the premise of the app makes it unsuitable for use by anyone under the age of 18.
The whole intention of the app is to meet new people, which makes it dangerous for young, impressionable children as they could come into contact with some dangerous individuals. If parents notice this app on their child’s phone, they should encourage them to delete it and replace it with a more child-friendly app where they can just speak with their friends. Alternatively, they should ensure that their children have been honest about their age on the app as this means they will be using the junior account which is for those aged 13–18.
Some teens struggle to make friends, and parents might be hesitant to stop them from meeting people via Yubo. If this is the case, these parents should download the Findmykids app onto their child’s phones. This is a GPS app that allows parents to track their kid’s location in real-time to ensure they are safe.
- Make new friends
- Video calling
RecRoom: The Immersive Private Messaging App
RecRoom gives teens the power to design their own avatars and interact with other users in a range of social environments. It is one of the first social VR platforms that allows teens to interact with each other in a virtual environment.
The app is available on Google Play, the App Store, PlayStation, Xbox, Oculus, and Steam. It is suitable for children over the age of 10, with those under the age of 13 being automatically put on a junior account. On a junior account voice and text chat are disabled, and players are given a username that contains no personal information. This protects the privacy and safety of children using the app.
- VR capability
- Create an avatar
- Junior account
How Can I Keep My Children Safe From the Dangers of Secret Messaging Apps?
Parents should protect their kids from the risks posed by the secret messaging apps discussed in this article. There are a number of ways to do this:
- The first is by simply educating themselves on what these apps are and how they are being used by children. Articles such as this one are a great place to start!
- Next, it is important that parents have open and honest conversations with their children about these apps and their potential dangers. By having these discussions, parents can establish what apps their child is using and how best to protect them.
- and last, but most certainly not least, parents should download some type of parental control software. Kids360 is one of the best available on the market as it gives parents the ability to limit screen time or prevent kids from accessing particular services and apps. The app enables parents to put locks on certain apps to ensure that their children are only using apps that are suitable for their age range!
The intention of this article was to raise awareness of the plethora of secret messaging apps that children and teenagers are using. Parents who remain concerned about their child’s internet use may find the Findmykids app helpful. This app enables them to monitor their children’s movements in real time whilst also monitoring their social media usage!
What features are needed in a top-secret messaging app?
The most crucial feature of a top-secret messaging app is end-to-end encryption because this is what protects its users’ data from prying eyes. Other features include two-factor authentication or a passcode lock—or in some instances, a disguise!
What is the best secret instant messaging and texting app?
Telegram is the best secret messaging app as it has end-to-end encryption and allows its users to set messages to self-destruct after a specific time period. Thanks to these attributes, Telegram is used by over 500 million people worldwide.
Why do kids use secret message apps?
Children use covert chat programs to keep their online activities secret from their parents, including the people they talk to, what they share, and the multiple devices they use.
What are the risks associated with using secret messaging apps?
There are a number of risks associated with secure messaging apps that include cyberbullying, sexting, grooming, and the potential of exposure to inappropriate content. The other danger of private messaging apps is the risk of identity theft. Often, children give away their sensitive personal information on secret messaging apps, which cybercriminals can use to carry out fraudulent activities.
The picture on the front page: DimaBerlin/Shutterstock.com
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