Tech experts warn parents about privacy with new iPhone 'Journal' app: What parents should know

ByAlyana Gomez WPVI logo
Friday, January 26, 2024
iPhone 'Journal' app: What parent's should know
Apple is giving parents more reason to talk to their kids about privacy, and encrypted information on their phones.

PHILADELPHIA -- Apple is giving parents more reason to talk to their kids about privacy and encrypted information on their phones. The new iOS update released last month automatically installs a new Journal app on iPhones.

It allows users to store private information that can be hidden from parents, too.

Journaling is so important and healthy for both adults and teens, and often times, we want our journal entries to be private.

With added privacy, this new Journal app could inadvertently give kids a way to circumvent parental controls.

"Journal allows children to use their face ID to lock entry, which means parents can be locked out. It's essentially a vault app," said Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer at Bark Technologies.

Bark Technologies is a company out of Atlanta that helps parents navigate the digital world while keeping their kids safe.

RELATED: How Apple's iPhone security update helps safeguard against thieves

Jordan says users can also store pictures or videos in the Journal app that will not show up on the camera roll. However, with Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, users can block or limit specific apps and features on their child's device, including Journal.

Journal can be locked with Face ID or the device passcode for user privacy. It is locked with the same passcode that is used for the device, there is no way to install a separate passcode for Journal. Also, if the face ID authentication fails, Journal will fall back on the passcode option. this means, if a parent knows the passcode to their child's device, they also know the passcode for Journal. It also means that if there isn't a passcode set for the iPhone, there isn't a way to lock Journal with a separate passcode.

Jordan also mentioned so called "vault apps," which sometimes resemble the calculator app but it's a hidden vault that stores private information, like pictures or videos.

Jordan says if you see two calculator apps on your child's phone, one of them could be a vault app.

"Calculator apps are meant to look very innocuous, but essentially you enter a numeric code and then you enter a place that stores photos, notes, media etc," said Jordan.

Ultimately, Jordan recommends talking with your kids about the danger in storing sensitive information or even explicit media because nothing digital is truly private. If it lives on the cloud, it has a footprint so kids must be careful.

Action News also spoke with an Apple representative about this app Thursday night and they say users can store information with a passcode. Apple says it will be the same passcode used to get into the phone, so if parents have access to their child's password, they can also get into this app.

For more information on changing your Journal settings on iPhone, visit the iPhone user guide.