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Teens are using burner phones to hide what they do on the internet from their parents


By Kelly McLaughlin, INSIDER

  • Teens are getting second phones in an attempt to keep in contact with friends when parents take their devices away and to post on social media without their parents knowing.
  • A survey from the Pew Research Center last year revealed that 56% of teens feel anxious, lonely or upset when they didn't have their cellphones.

Teens are using burner phones in an attempt to keep their social lives a secret to their parents.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal details the lengths some will go to in order to stay connected.

The phones don't necessarily need costly plans - some teens use the burners when connected to WiFi to circumvent data charges.

One parent told the WSJ that their daughter got phones from friends when they took her device away.

"All the sudden she'd stop asking for her phone back and we'd be like, 'That's weird,'" Patrick Van Every said of his daughter, Jalyn.

A survey from the Pew Research Center last year revealed that 56% of teens feel anxious, lonely or upset when they don't have their cellphones.

And despite parents' attempts at limiting screen time, some kids will still find a way to access mobile devices. 

"In almost every high school across the country there is a kid who sells burner phones from their locker," retired high-tech crimes detective Rich Wistocki told the WSJ.

But just as kids hiding information from their parents isn't new, nor is the concept of burner phones for teens.

A 2012 study found that 70% of kids hide online behavior from their parents, and in 2010, a McAfee study found more than half of the teens surveyed hid what they did online.

It's unclear how common the practice of burner phones is, but social media experts and teens told the Associated Press last year that many youngsters are living lives online that their parents don't know about - whether that be by utilizing burner phones or untraceable social media apps, like Snapchat, or by keeping their conversations on Kik, a private messaging app.

The AP report cited a 2016 Pew Research survey that found only half of parents had ever checked their children's phone calls and text messages.

Diana Graber, co-founder of internet safety organization CyberWise, told WSJ that teens "can easily get their hands on a phone" if their parents take devices away. She said the real goal is to teach teens about technology.

"The only thing that works is education, teaching them the upsides and downsides of tech, and helping them establish their own boundaries," she told the WSJ.

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News: Teens are using burner phones to hide what they do on the internet from their parents
Teens are using burner phones to hide what they do on the internet from their parents
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