While parents may have access to their children's cellphones through a passcode or fingerprint, most still struggle to explain what their kids are doing on their phones.
(NEW YORK) — Tears and questions of family trust poured out when kids agreed to reveal to their parents what they’re really doing on their smartphones during a special “Good Morning America” roundtable.
“GMA” correspondent T.J. Holmes first sat down with the parents of eight girls in Southern California to find out what they think they know about their daughters’ smartphone use.
The parents revealed their daughters are on their phones “every second” of the day, including at least one who is even connected to her phone in the shower.
“Our daughter puts it into a Ziploc bag … plays music and she takes a shower,” said Lena, the mother of Allie, whose last name, like all those involved, is not being used.
All the parents have access to their daughters’ cellphones through a passcode or fingerprint, but struggled to explain what their kids are doing on their phones.
“Selfies … They like to draw pictures … They do Snapchats … They do DubMix smashes and, see, I don’t know what that is,” said one parent. “And now FaceSwap.”
“The ASKfm one, I don’t like it,” said another.
“I don’t know what that is,” another parent responded. “I thought it was a radio station.”
Holmes next sat down with the six girls — Cammy, Gianna, Allie, Sabrina, Bella and Alyssa. Each of the girls is between the ages of 11 and 13.
When asked if anyone had apps they thought their parents might not be pleased with, one of the girls mentioned a type of app that looks and functions like a calculator but once a special code is entered, a private folder opens up that stores photos.
“A lot of people use it for, like, inappropriate pictures, like, nudes and everything like that,” Allie explained. “I have it but I only use it for like embarrassing pictures of my friends.”
“Same,” added Alyssa.
The ASKfm app allows users to anonymously post questions to other users. On 12-year-old Cammy’s ASKfm page were questions like, “What are you wearing?”
The girls also explained that the app prompts lots of comments because, with its anonymity, people can “say whatever they want.”
In a statement to ABC News, ASKfm said it spends “millions of dollars” to “strike the right balance between safety and privacy for our users.”
“ASKfm is a leading global Q&A app that allows users to express themselves and interact authentically with their friends. Included in the app is the option for users to ask questions with their identity hidden to the public. We actively work in partnership with users, parents and schools to guide all users toward positive and responsible choices online. We spend millions of dollars on our user reporting and moderation tools in order to strike the right balance between safety and privacy for our users, the vast majority of whom are teens and young adults,” the statement reads. “Our safety center (http://safety.ask.fm) provides a wealth of information and tips for parents and teens, ages 13 and older. These tips are not only important to ASKfm users, but to teens using any form of social media.”
On the well-known app Instagram, Gianna, the youngest of the group, has the most followers, 1,000 in total.
The girls also revealed they each have a second Instagram account their parents don’t know about. The account, called a Finstagram (fake Instagram), is for their friends’ eyes only.
“It’s basically a fake Instagram that you use to, like, post embarrassing photos of your friends,” explained one of the girls. “Only your close friends follow.”
Allie told Holmes that her posts resulted in a 19-year-old asking for her phone number.
“Well, I’ve gotten, like, a 19-year-old … He texted me, like, the direct message and he said, ‘Hey, what’s your number? Pics? How old are you?,’ and then I blocked him,” Allie said.
Two companies that make calculator apps designed to privately store photos declined to comment for this story. Instagram also declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: In the original version of this story, one of the girls referred to a calculator app that she used to store private photos on her phone. There are a number of apps that look and function like a calculator, including “Calculator+” which is the app the girl used to store her photos. “Calculator Plus” by Digitalchemy LLC, is a popular app that provides a calculator and does not store photos or have any connection to the “Calculator+” app. We regret any confusion.