Can Your Parents See What Apps You Download?

Wondering if your parents can see what apps you download? When linking your phone to a shared Google, iCloud, or family account, your parents can see what apps you download. Apple’s Verizon app allows parents to connect phones and receive notifications. However, phone bills only show total data usage rather than app names. Additionally, iPhones & Androids can “hide” apps.

Teens need a modicum of privacy from their parents; otherwise, they can begin to feel smothered or believe their parents don’t trust them. These days, nearly everyone over the age of 10 has their own phone and there are millions of apps that teens use to keep in touch with friends and for entertainment.

Sometimes, they don’t want parents to know exactly what they’re using. This begs the question; can parents see what apps I have downloaded?

It’s nice to know that your choice of apps is your own business unless your device links to a shared account. It is even better to understand why it doesn’t show up on phone bills and that other programs help make your app history completely private. Let’s explore the ins and outs of iPhone and Android downloads.

parents spying on child's laptop

Related Reading: Can My Parents See My Incognito History?

Can Your Parents See What Apps You Download?

Your parents can employ a few methods to see which apps you have downloaded. However, these options are not blatantly obvious, the information gained will be a little unclear, and it will often require a decent amount of effort to pursue.

Can Parents See Your Downloaded Apps Through a Phone Bill?

Data providers don’t record what you use their data for, but they do keep a record of how much data you use at any given time.

In other words, if you download a game that is 600Mb in size, and you did so on Thursday, December 12, at 13:02, then the phone bill will show that 600Mb worth of data was used on that specific date and at that time. Neither the phone company nor your parents will know what the 600Mbs were used for, unless they physically check the device.

Phone bills are the same for both iPhone and Android. When your parents pay for your phone bill, it includes calls, text messages, and data. Consequently, they can view the phone bill to see what numbers you called and the call’s duration. They can also see how many texts you sent, although not to whom or what they said; simply the total number of texts you sent.

Some apps, especially games, allow you to spend real-life currency to get in-game items or upgrades. If you purchase anything from these in-game cash shops on your phone bill or with a linked credit card, it will appear on the phone bill. Additionally, if a paid app was downloaded and invoiced to the carrier, the charge will appear on the next phone bill’s statement.

It’s worth noting that Apple apps do not bill through the carrier, and Android no longer offers these services. Most teens likely do not have their own credit card, so if your Apple account is linked to your parents’ credit card, they will still see this charge on their next card statement.

There are various methods to learn about the applications you use, but your phone bill is unlikely to be one of them.

Is It Possible to Conceal the App on Your Phone?

If you’re serious about masking your app usage, you can opt to create a separate account on your phone to download apps. Any details relating to the app will not show up on your shared account, because you are using another private account.

If you aim to hide your texts from prying eyes, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, or Twitter’s direct message system are some of the best options. They don’t appear on the phone bill except in the form of data usage. When you do this while connecting to WiFi, your messaging will be especially invisible on the bill. That said, physically looking at your phone will still give you away unless you keep your phone locked with a password only you know (when not in use).

Shared Family Phone Plans Can Reveal Your App History

iPhone’s Family Sharing and Android’s Google Play Family Library functionality helps parents manage what kids can download, the music they listen to, and any app-related purchases they want to make.

Parents who want to see and approve what kids download can set up Ask to Buy. When you want to buy apps, movies, or other kinds of content, your parents will receive an alert in the form of an email, which allows them to approve or decline the decision.

Apple also has Screen Time, which allows your parents to track how much time you spend on particular apps, websites, and your phone in general. They can use their own device to receive reports of what you do on your phone, and they can set time limits for how long you may use an app or use your phone in general.

Linked iCloud And Google Accounts Leave You Vulnerable

Try to remember when you first received your phone: was it set up or linked to your parents’ Google or iCloud account?

If linked to your parents’ accounts, it will grant your parents access to track what apps you have installed on your phone. They can monitor which apps you install, download, and uninstall, as well as any in-app purchases you make. This feature was initially for parents who wanted direct access to a phone or tablet they bought their children, for safety reasons. 

In fact, they can even request to receive an email every time you download something and they can ask that all purchases be approved by them first. Of course, if you have an iCloud account that your parents can access, they will also see the apps or content on your phone.

Another example of this is Verizon, the Apple-related program manager. It allows you to link phones together so that everything you send or receive goes directly to another phone without your knowledge.

You Can Hide Apps on Your iPhone

You can create a folder by touching and holding down the app and dragging it on top of another app. Your phone will name the folder for you, but you may modify it by clicking on the text above it once you’ve created it.

Then, by touching and holding the app you wish to conceal, drag it into the new folder you established. Tap and hold the app you wish to hide in the folder. Drag it to the right side of the folder while keeping your finger on it, and the folder will make a new page with your app inside it. Finally, release your finger to keep the app on the second page.

Several dots will appear at the bottom of the screen as you add additional pages to your folder. The dots show how many pages are in your folder, and you may browse between them by swiping right or left. Only the applications on the top page of the folder will be accessible when you return to your home screen.

You Can Hide Apps on Your Android

Although Android is popular among Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, and Huawei, the method for these phones is very similar. Here’s how to hide apps on Android:

  • Open up your device’s app drawer.
  • Select the three dots in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • Open the Home Screen Options menu.
  • Choose “Hide applications” from the drop-down menu.
  • Select the app you want to hide.
  • Use the “Apply” button to confirm.
young man using laptop incognito

How Else Can You Hide Your Apps?

If you want to take things a step further and disguise the apps from your home screen, you may want to consider Launchers. They require only a few phone permissions and allow you to modify the names and icons of the applications on your screen or entirely conceal them. These hidden app hiders can even pass for regular, unobtrusive software like a calculator or calendar.

One of the best Launchers is Nova Launcher. It’s a replacement home screen for anyone wishing to change their user experience, and it’s accessible in both free and premium versions. You don’t have to give the app complete authority over your phone, because it doesn’t require root access.

After you’ve installed Nova and selected it as your default launcher, you can customize the names and icons of your applications in the app drawer to make them seem the way you want them to.

Related Reading: Can Internet History be Seen On the Bill?


As with a password, your app history is as safe as the number of people who can access it. Shared family accounts Google and iCloud accounts will allow parents to see your app history.

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