What to Do If Your Child Is Concealing Their Text Messages

By Andrea Nelson
May 7, 2024
Mother holding out phone to child

Is your child acting fishy lately when texting? Maybe they suddenly stop when you enter the room or take pains to conceal their screen. Perhaps during your latest phone check, you noticed a suspicious lack of messages. But how do kids hide texts? Read on to learn ways your child might conceal their messages, why they might do it, and how you can make sure they’re safe. 

How kids hide text messages

To help you figure out if your child might be concealing their texts from you, here are some of the methods they may use: 

Invisible Ink 

Sending a text with “Invisible Ink” on iMessage makes it blurry until the recipient taps on it. However, it’s not disappearing ink — the message will remain visible after it’s been revealed. 

Rename a contact

If your child’s main goal is to conceal who they’re messaging, they could rename the contact to avoid catching your attention. For example, a secret significant other could instead be labeled with the name of their best friend. 

Turn off message previews

Message previews are the short lines of text that appear on a phone notification. Turning off message previews is a great way to prevent people from peeping them on the lock screen. 

Turn off alerts 

To avoid raising suspicion, your kid might turn off text alerts or hide alerts for a specific message thread.  

Delete text messages

If your child wants to keep texts from prying eyes, they may delete messages or entire conversation threads.

Third-party apps

There are third-party messaging apps available that provide privacy measures not available on the native messaging programs for iOS and Android devices. 

We don’t advocate breaking into or spying on your child’s phone, but if you notice that your child is using these extra security features, consider asking them about it and periodically looking through some of their conversations together.

Here are a few ways your child might use a third-party app to conceal their messages: 

  • Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode: While iMessage and Android Messages don’t allow users to lock the app using a passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID, other Third-Party messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Signal do. 
  • Disappearing messages: Some apps, like WhatsApp and Snapchat, let users send messages that disappear after being read. 

Private messaging apps

Secret Messenger and other similar apps are specifically designed to help users conceal their messages. 

Why kids conceal text messages 

If you think your child is hiding texts, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. 

While there could be a concerning reason, such as hiding the use of drugs and alcohol, there are just as many innocent possibilities. It could be they have a new, positive romantic relationship but just aren’t ready to tell you yet. Or it might be as simple as the desire for privacy fueled by an age-appropriate need for independence. 

Giving kids privacy and keeping them safe is a balancing act, and only you know what’s best for your family.

Solutions for parents 

Although your child hiding messages from you could turn out to be no big deal, secretive behavior is always worth investigating. Here are some things you can do if you suspect your child is concealing texts: 

  • Talk to your child. The very first thing you should do if you think your child is hiding something is to have a conversation with them. Calmly explain what you’ve noticed (sticking to the observable facts) and why this concerns you. Then, give your child a chance to explain what’s going on. Lean on the mutual trust you’ve built, and be clear your goal is to make sure they’re safe. 
  • Online safety check-ins. Make it a habit to regularly sit with your child and look at the content on their phone, including text messages. Reiterate that these check-ins aren’t meant to punish them, but rather to make sure they’re staying safe and have space to discuss any concerns. 
  • Check the deleted messages folder on iCloud. Nothing ever truly disappears on the internet. If you’re concerned your kid may be deleting messages, you can check the deleted messages folder on their iCloud account. It’s important to be transparent with your child if you take this route, though. Explain why you’re checking their deleted messages and what you’re looking for. 
  • Require permission before downloading apps. To prevent your child from using a third-party app to hide messages, use parental controls to require a passcode before they can download new apps to their device. 
  • Monitoring. BrightCanary uses AI technology to monitor your child’s texts and alert you if there’s a problem. Our app even displays deleted text messages, so you don't have to worry about missing anything.

The bottom line 

If you suspect your child is concealing texts from you, it’s important to follow up and take action to make sure they’re safe. 

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