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The 'burner' phone is the new secret diary for teenagers.

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As a long-time tech-stalker of my children, I like to think of myself as savvy to all the tricks one of my three kids might use to misdirect me.

Not that my children would every use any tricks on me. I have a unique and special relationship with my kids that is open and honest so there is no need for them to lie to me or hide anything from me.

Incredulous silence…

OK. So, I use an app called Family Map that links to my children’s phones and shows me where they are at all times. Except, my son’s friend told me he’s already found a way to hack it and make it look like he’s somewhere he’s not.

And don’t even get me started on ‘burner’ phones. That’s where teenagers have a second, cheap, hidden phone that while you’re busy confiscating the first one, they’re tapping away to their friends on.

Gah.

I thought I was on top of it all, but the problem parents face is how rapidly technology is developing, making it impossible to ever truly be on top of all the tricks and all times.
So I asked Trevor Long, tech expert, dad, and fellow child-stalker, how he stays on top of it all. And he had some incredible tips. Listen here:

Here are the most common ways kids will try and trick parents.

1. Pausing their location on ‘Finding’ apps. 

It was my son’s friend who let me know of this trick. He told me that he does it on his Family Map app, and because he confessed to using it I naturally assumed Philip, 12, was using it to. In fact I accused him of as much and he completely denied it. He soon proved to me he didn’t know how to pause his location when I checked up on him and found him at the shops instead of my sister’s house.

Just stay aware of this function and let your kids know you are aware of it.

2. ‘Hiding’ their number

A phone call was coming through from a blocked number which normally means my mum was trying to call me from her landline. She’s the only person I know who still uses one. It turns out it was my son.

“Why didn’t your number show up?” I asked.

“Oh, I was prank-calling my friends yesterday so I turned it off.”

“TURN IT BACK ON!”

While their reason to turn the identity function off may be innocent, they might forget to turn it back on and then you won’t know to answer their phone calls. Of course, there’s a chance they do this knowing you may not answer because you don’t know it is them: “I did call you mum, but you didn’t answer!”

4. Faking dead batteries.

I just like to hear my son’s voice the night of a sleepover, and usually the next morning, too, but my phone calls seem to embarrass him in front of his friends so he fakes a dead battery, thus cutting off contact with me. Which is INFURIATING.

So I pack his bag for him now, like he is a baby, complete with charger, so there are no excuses.

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5. Having a second ‘burner’ phone.

I cannot believe this actually happens but some children, usually teenagers with jobs, buy a second ‘burner’ phone so they can do whatever they want on one phone and show you the ‘safe’ phone on which they simply text, surf and play games. This is one of those tricks a child uses that leaves you torn between admiration at their resourcefulness and terrified at their deceptive abilities.

I’m sorry to tell you but the only way to become aware of this is to toss their room while they are eating dinner or in the shower or the bathroom. Yes, like a jailhouse warden. Hey, don’t blame us. We wouldn’t have to do it if you weren’t trying to hide something from us.

We decode ‘teenspeak’, so you don’t have to.

Video via Mamamia

6. Clearing their browser history.

Kids are such evil genius and if they know you are checking their browser history they could delete it. You can purchase software that tracks their activity or easier still, set your child up with a Microsoft Account. Tech expert Trevor Long says this is how he monitors his son’s use because his Microsoft Account is used on his computer and his gaming console and because the account is connected to Long’s email, he gets a weekly usage report.

“I get a report every week which shows me the activity – how many hours of screen time he’s had, I can see what websites he went to, which ones were blocked and all this sort of stuff so really simple things that are free.”

7. Duplicate social media accounts.

Yes, children will have duplicate social media accounts, particularly if you’ve banned them from particular social media accounts such as SnapChat, and it can be hard to keep children safe on platforms you don’t even know they are on.

That’s when you know you need to ensure your children’s devices are linked to yours and accessible via mirroring software or a Microsoft account.

A good way to punish your child for tech transgressions, Trevor Long says, is to go into their Microsoft account (or whatever equivalent they’re using) and simply turn it off. If you have set your kids up to do everything via their Microsoft account, by turning it off they can’t go online or do anything aside from type or play offline games. Punishment delivered.

Or you could take their phone off them, but I hate to do that because then I can’t call them and stalk them.

Sometimes being a parent is protecting them from themselves.

Listen to the full episode of The Parent Code with tech expert Trevor Long. He has so many practical tips for how to negotiate this crazy world of tech. 

To subscribe to The Parent Code in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you’ll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests, available to buy from ibooks.  

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