Tips to Get Teens to Put Down Smartphones

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I know it’s still three days away, but I will not be posting a blog message again until next Monday. Please have safe travels and enjoy your time with family and friends. Last Friday I did blog about some recent findings on the possible detrimental effects of too much time on smartphones for our preschool and school-age children. Now for some more helpful tips from child developmental researchers.

Keep Devices Out of Kids Bedrooms Kids need more more sleep than grown ups. Taking away a child’s phone at bedtime can be a battle, but it’s worth the fight.

Set Online Firewalls and Data Cutoffs A young person’s brain is wired for exploration and, to some extent, thrill-seeking – not restraint. Most devices and internet providers, as well as some apps, offer parenting tools and restrict access to problematic content and curb data use. Take advantage of them.

Create a Device Contract These rules could include no Smartphones at the dinner table or no more than a hour of social media use after school. If a child violates the rules, he or she should lose the phone for a period of time.

Model Healthy Device Behaviors Just as kids struggle to stay off of their phones, so do parents. And if you are a phone junkie yourself, you can’t expect your kids to be any different. Apart from putting you own phone away while driving or during mealtimes (Thanksgiving!), it’s important to recognize that your kids also see what you put online.

Consider Old-school Flip Phones Kids can always access social media or video from home computers or tablets during their free time. But when they’re out in the world, they won’t be tempted with all-the-time access to screen-based distractions.

Have a happy, text-free Thanksgiving dinner. Will be back next Monday. Enjoy!

Ray Myers

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Kids and Smartphones

We really don’t know what the long-term effects of “mobile technology” will be on our current school-age and under school-age generations in America (and the world?). Unfortunately, much of the preliminary data suggest that we have to do something to control its indiscriminate and obsessive use. “What this generation is going through right now with technology is a giant experiment (Jensen, University of Pennsylvania).”

As researchers debate appropriate public health messaging, kids are receiving their first smartphones at even younger ages – the average is 10, according to one recent estimate – and they’re spending more and more time on their devices. “I am probably on my phone 10 hours a day,” says Santiago Potocnik Senarahi, a 16-year-old 11th grader in Denver. Even when he’s not using his phone, it’s always with him, and he never considers taking a break. “This is part of my life and part of my work, and [that] means I need to be in constant contact.” “The more we learn about kids and Smartphones, the more we’re going to see that limiting their exposure is a good idea (Twenge, San Diego State University).”

I will be back on Monday with a list of some “Tips the Get Teens to Put Down Their Smartphones.” And maybe these tips will also help some of us in the “older generations?”

Ray Myers

Nose in Books, Eyes on the Screen

So what’s really wrong with walking around with your eyes on your mobile phones while passerbys navigate their way around you?  More dangerous is the practice of driving while texting in terms of disregard for your own safety and that of others.  In the past the only similar practice I can recall that was seen as more of an anti-social behavior than a hazard to your own safety and others was keeping your “nose in a book.”  But I don’t recall seeing many people driving while reading an old-fashioned “hardbound” or paperback text.  At least I don’t think there were many car collisions attributed to people reading paperbacks while driving.

More disconcerting or hazardous (at least to me) are the anti-social implications of keeping your head down at social gatherings and not meeting or conversing with old friends and new acquaintances.  Being online there are always friends and family you can chose to be connected with and never be “out of touch.”  While you may chose to never have your head “in the clouds” again, you may also find yourself trapped in the world of social media to the detriment of having a real time “social life.”  I know I am portraying the extremes of a social media obsession, and that my observations are not scientifically based, but please take a look at your own social media life.  There may also be a generational gap here, and a personal preference for what constitutes a broader social life.  It still remains your own personal choice in terms of what “worlds” we chose to habitate and to what degree.

So now let’s look up and smell and see the roses!

Ray Myers


Baby, You Can Drive My Car. Or Not.

Remember the old “Yellow Pages” ad when you were encouraged to let your fingers do the walking.  Now it seems that you may be letting your fingers do the driving.  Autonomous driving, electric cars and ride-hailing apps from Silicon Valley, like Uber, are reshaping transportation.  Young people no longer feel as compelled as previous generations to own cars.  Experts in the transportation sector are changing rapidly.  The whole “mobility market” – transportation as a service – is just at the beginning.

In Germany, under an initiative called Industry 4.0, they are striving to help the country thrive in a smartphone world. The future of Germany as an industrial nation depends on how companies succeed in bringing the manufacturing and digital worlds together.  Industry executives there often cite how Apple’s iPhone quickly erased Nokia’s once-dominant position in the mobile handset market, and they are determined not to let something similar to happen to them.  Google is also entering the driverless car market.  Their market value is more than double that of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen combined.   So instead of owning and driving your own car, you may soon find that your smartphone could be the best means of “ride-hailing” you have.   It will enable you to chose the most convenient means of vehicular travel available to you at any given place and time.

But I wouldn’t get rid of your new BMW, Mercedes, or Volkswagen quite yet.  Maybe you can become a ride service  provider yourself.  You can let your passengers work/play on their iPhones while you enjoy the ride.  That may even be more fun.

Ray Myers

Wedding Memories by Smartphone

Well, it’s not exactly like talking a “selfie” at you own wedding, but it sounds pretty close.   Just ask you grinds and invited guests to snap away at you wedding and see what you get.  Not a bad idea to hire a photographer just in case but  you may be able to save a few dollars by not having to hire the most expensive one, trusting that your friends will be capturing hundreds of other moments that can be shared with any interested parties.  The digital age is upon us, and the traditional photographic experiences of posed matrimonial moments may be casualties of technological advances. Of course, if you still want to spend a lot more money (or that of the bride’s parents), please be my guest, but there are so many more ways to share the events of this day than ther have been in the past.

There are a number of apps that can easily make the uploading of ceremony and reception memories a very effortless process.   Similarly, the iPhone enables us to connect readily with numerous social media sites that are literally in the palm of our hands: Instagram, Facebook, Google photos, etc.  Images can obviously be displayed on more traditional digital devices that we may prefer.  Remember the iPad, MacBook, and desktop computer.  Y0u really don’t want an old-fashioned photographic album do you?  

Maybe the best part is that you don’t have to wait very long to see how are the pictures turned out.  Those wedding day memories will be captured and ready for viewing in seconds.  So the “photographic honeymoon” will be over sooner than ever.  May your marriage be muck longer.

Ray Myers

P.S.

Earlier this month a new book was published on Amazon as well as other online book publishing formats.  I authored one of the essays in this book: “Changed During the Sixties.” The book’s title is “Turning Points: Discovering Meaning and Passion in Turbulent Times.” I hope you will enjoy reading these essays about personal and professional transitions made during this time.

P.P.S.

I will send out a Labor Day greeting next Monday, September 5, and will resume my weekly postings on a regular M-W-F basis on September 12.

No Man is an iPhone.

So back on January 11th this year I posted some comments on a tech industry convening in San Jose, California, aimed at trying to untie the “Gordian Knot” of how everyone’s personal privacy can be protected whenever they choose to use any of the social media tools available to them (“Dazed and Confused in Silicon Valley”).  Government officials flew in from Washington in order to help broker this landmark agreement.  Nearly three months have passed and quess what?  We have reached an impasse, well at least with one of the the technological giants who does not want to share the secrets of its programming encryption.  Mr. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, wants to protect his users’ data.

I guess that’s all very noble and reassuring to iPhone owners, but let’s remember that an act of terrorism was committed here and many innocent American lives were lost.  Does Apple really want to protect the privacy of its customers, or are they more interested in guarding its “special sauce.”  I think it’s the latter.  I remember hearing something about corporate responsibility in American business practices in the past.  This situation may not be perfectly analogous, but let’s remember that companies like Apple have become very successful and very wealthy because of the favorable economic environment that exists in this country.

We should not forget that the victims of the San Bernadino attack at a Holiday party last December were professional staff who were working with individuals with developmental disabilities.  Fourteen were killed, twenty-two were injured.  I think that their lives mattered, and we should respond responsibly.  As Tim Cook himself has said, “This is an issue that impacts all of us and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”

Ray Myers

Warning – iPhones May  be Hazardous to Your Posture and Mood!

 I am not talking here about what you might be doing with your iPhones, but more about how you are using them physically.  The two biggest areas of impact seem to be in your basic posture and your mood.  Let’s talk about posture first because it apparently relates to a number of unintended consequences that your mother always warned you about.  Remember “stand up straight and stop slouching.”  Well it turns out she may have been right after all, and when I was young (don’t ask how long ago) it had nothing to do with using an iPhone.  

So today’s warning about not slouching when looking at your iPhones comes with an additional advisory: it’s bad for your self-esteem.  Now how could that be?  Experts tell us that there are some collateral areas that may be effected in ways that you may have never considered.  Slouching may also result in poorer memories when compared with those individuals who sit upright.  Slouches may also be less assertive, not “standing up for ourselves.”  We may even become less productive because of all the time we spend interacting with these small mobile devices in place of engaging in real-time experiences around us.

Something to think about over the holiday season when we all gather with friends and family.  Hopefully they will all be sitting up straight and looking at each other and not at their iPhones when gathered around for holiday celebrations.

Ray Myers

Too Much Information – There’s an App for That!

Some call it “pushing information to Internet users.”  In an age of data overload, social networks and information providers are competing to provide just the highlights you want when you want them.  News outlets send alerts with breaking news.  Twitter curators top tweets, and weather apps warn you of rain minutes before the droplets arrive.  No more surprises!  Not that there is anything wrong with that, unless you like to be surprised once in a awhile.

One such app, Notify from Facebook, proudly offers custom alerts from 70 sites to Phone screens.  You can build a notification experience that works for you!  No more bothersome news bulletins about  terrorism and ISIS if you don’t want them.  As the App advertises, “it is the most intimate way for you  and the  information you’re interested in to connect.”  What a convenience and a luxury!

Please believe that I am not opposed to the expediency and personalization (independence?) that the Internet brings us in learning about events around the world.  But at he same time, it seems that it can also insulate us in only those “worlds” of interest to us, if we let it.

Ray Myers