EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Police in Eau Claire, Wisconsin are warning parents of a phone application that hides content in plain sight.
It's called the Vault application, and it's one of many similar apps that allows users to hide content within a generic app like a calculator.
While apps of that nature are simply geared towards privacy, Detective Greg Erickson says it can cause concerns if kids try to hide pictures or videos that are inappropriate, or even criminal.
“Any content that they don't want a parent to see or that they want hidden, which could be drug use or sexually explicit material, they could keep in a separate area and try to hide it from parents,” Erickson explained.
Erickson says a specific code is punched into the application, like a calculator or a common game, and then hidden pictures, videos or screenshots will be revealed.
“They're just becoming more and more hidden and harder to detect. It's just an overall general awareness that we're trying to improve,” said Erickson.
Eau Claire police say parents can watch out for the Vault app, and others, by checking the storage space on commonly used concealment applications. If the storage space is unusually high, it could contain hidden content.
Parents can also look at the standard device application on their own phone and compare it to the same application on their child's phone if they have the same model. If they look different, it could be because of trademark differences on the Vault application.
Erickson says just like teaching kids how to ride a bike or cross the street, parents should also begin having discussions about how to appropriately use cellphones.
“Having an honest conversation with your kids of what's good and bad and the privacy aspect and to just protect yourself and to use it appropriately, and then there won't be half as many issues as we see - especially in the school-based setting,” added Erickson.
The department says it also checks for the Vault app when conducting criminal investigations and says illegal content has been found in the past.