Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Calculated Risks

A few days ago a friend, who happens to be the terrific mother of two tween girls, posted a video and asked me to blog about it. 

Pamela Casey, a District Attorney from Alabama, created the quick clip to warn parents about "Calculator%" an app that appears harmless on your child's phone but can be unlocked and used as a secret photo album.

Turns out there are several apps that provide the same functionality.
Private Photo (Calculator%) is getting the most attention right now. The app lets your teen store private photos and videos, hidden behind an actual calculator. Once he or she puts in a secret passcode, they're able to access a private area, where files are securely stored and remain completely confidential. 

Smart Hide Calculator is also a fully functional calculator app. But, once the teen enters his or her password and presses the '=' button, they're able to "hide" or "unhide" pictures, videos, documents or files. 

SpyCalc offers a free ad-supported version as well as a paid one. Again, calculator functionality hides a secret storage area, where kids can hide photos. SpyCalc also allows users to take pictures directly and store them directly in the calculator app, ensuring privacy even sooner. 

KYMS is another option for hiding photos and videos behind a calculator. It adds better video quality, document protection for PDFs and text, plus a password recovery feature. 

The descriptions of these apps stress privacy but don't go so far as to use the word "sexting." But, of course, that's what they're meant for. (There are plenty of other "private photo album" apps that don't bother to use a calculator as camouflage.) As parents, we find the underage sexting phenomenon particularly frightening — especially when the news is filled with horrifying statistics and prep school sexting rings. 

In reality, according to a recent story in Psychology Today, far fewer kids are sexting than the sensational headlines imply — between 3-7%, rather than the 50% reported last year. 

So try not to worry. Chances are, your teen's calculator app really is helping them with homework.  

And, at least now you know what to look for if things don't seem to add up.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book  Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.


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