Calculator% app warning from Alabama DA illustrates challenge of parenting in digital age

I'm thrilled that online safety for our kids is becoming a bigger part of our national conversation, as illustrated by this week's viral video from Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey in Alabama. DA Casey has made it her mission to help parents, and she does a weekly video discussing phone safety and the latest apps.

Her recent video on  the Calculator% app, full name Private Photo (Calculator%) by Digital Mind Co., Ltd., highlighted the ways that kids can use it to conceal video and photos from anyone who does not have the secret code. You can see it here:

Does your child have this app-- Calculator%? You need to know what this app really is for--- and it isn't for adding numbers! Check out this new video (less than 2 minutes)!

Posted by Blount County District Attorney-41st Judicial Circuit on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Keeping info away from parents is nothing new, and has been practiced by teens for quite a while, even before there were phones. It's also why there are articles like "99 texting acronyms and phrases every parent should know." But it illustrates that there is always a new app for parents to be aware of, and one that doesn't encourage behavior we want to see in our kids.

This video and app is a great way to start a conversation with your kids about photos and how they can be used, shared, hidden, and more on social media.

What excites me most about this video is that it seems people are finally understanding the challenge parents face of raising kids in the ever-changing landscape of smartphones and apps. DA Casey's post illustrates the importance of sharing information about our kids' online lives and that of their peers.

After seeing this video and learning about Calculator%, many parents have said that they are less likely to get their kids a smartphone. That raises the good point that a lot of parents don't know just what getting a phone for their child means, for them or their offspring.

Monitoring and trying to stay on top of new apps, tech developments, and just what our kids are doing on their phones is a lot of work. (Hello, understatement of the year.)

Even parents who put in the time likely can't keep up with every new app, and videos like this are a way to start a conversation with your kids about the importance of being careful, making good choices, seeking help from an adult if you need it, and choosing kind.

Those values apply to any possible app, and in the real world as well.

This video also is a great intro to talking about photos specifically, including when is it okay to take them (only when you have permisision), when is it okay to share them (only when you have permission), and can you trust that people have deleted them (as this app illustrates, not always).

You can find posts about 11 other apps that parents need to be aware of, and additional information about online safety for tweens and teens, here.

Prior Post: I'm wobbling on the tightrope that is parenting teens and tweens

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