Category Archives: Technology

Convenience Is Hurting Us

googlelazyMy 8-year-old son will sit within arm’s reach of his Xbox 360 and use the voice commands to open the system door as opposed to extending his arm and pushing the button with his finger. This is typical in our lives. At any opportunity, we often make use of advanced technology just for the sake of using it, and not because it’s a necessity. We thirst for the convenience modern technology gives us, not because we’re inherently lazy and not because we need it, but because we want it and because we can create it and then why not use technology, even to our disadvantages, as much as we can. And maybe that accustomed reliance and overuse makes us indolent.

My 3-year-old child is completely accustomed to living an “on demand life.” During his entire existence he has been exposed to watching television on Netflix or from a DVR. He listens to music on iTunes and when we don’t have a particular piece of media, we can pull up any song, image or video within seconds just by doing a simple search on the internet or from our smartphones.  There have been times where we’re in the car, listening to traditional radio and my toddler doesn’t grasp the concept that you can’t just pause, rewind or search for your favorite song. The same is true for the few times we watch television without the aid of the DVR. The need to have to wait for anything in our lives is waning and his ability to be patient has suffered from lack of ever having to be patient with technology and really with much anything else in life. Gosh, can you remember dial-up. Anyone under the age of ten doesn’t have any idea what that’s like. Waiting isn’t something we teach or are learning anymore.

When women’s roles in the workforce and family dynamics began to shift during the 1950s-70s and onward, it also brought about the rise in our need for convenience items such as “TV dinners” and prepackaged frozen meals. A typical American family’s routine in today’s society may look completely different than it did 60 years ago. With those changes our diets have been revamped, as well as the average weight and waist size. Convenience has a way of hurting us in many aspects when it gives us shortcuts in life. Obesity, impatience and brain function to name a few.

This year, local grocer, Wegmans (at their Pittsford location), has unrolled a new convenience of “curbside pickup.” For $10 you can call ahead and pick up your groceries from convthe ease of never leaving the seat of your car. While conveniences like this may feel like a short term life-saver for parents with small kids or the busy person who works all day or the elderly who may have trouble making it through the large store for the items they need, it also has a negative impact on the amount of physical activity we do just to get through life. And it’s not just one trip to the store we’re avoiding, it’s many things throughout the day that we do differently that makes us less active. It adds up. Many of us text family members from across the room because it’s easier than putting our cellphones down. It also hampers our ability to fend for ourselves. We no longer have to memorize driving directions or need to remember how to spell big words. I recently read a comment at the end of an article about the new grocery service mentioned above that said, “$10 is worth saving an hour of my busy day that I could put towards spending with my family.” While that may be completely true, and I whole-heartily sympathize with that busy person, because I often find myself swamped with “not enough hours in the day” feeling, we pay a price for life being so super convenient.

It’s a fact that Americans just don’t do as much physical activity as we used to. The majority of our children aren’t raised working on farms or participating in manual labor. It’s more typical to see kids hovered around a video game system than to be running around outside. My kids often may play iPads in elementary school during their down-time instead of going outside for recess. How many of us have heard the old story about our parents walking uphill to school both ways? Today there are limits on the amount of distance children walk to school before they are provided with bus transportation; and many of us adults have the convenience of driving cars. In our busy lives we increasingly have less time and less of a need to get exercise and acquire the recommended “healthy steps” in on a daily basis. The problem is a combination of trying to fit in too many things in one day, and finding the latest and the greatest advancements and conveniences to make our lives able to make all those things fit. Sometimes I think about how I would have less stress and more positive benefits in my life if I just simplified what I do, including the technology I rely on and the services I rely on others to do.

I hear many people joke about remembering way back when we had phones that hung on the walls with cords. If we’re being honest with ourselves the need to have the latest cell phone or smart phone has less to do with being a necessity than being accustomed to wanting the latest device. We’ve created a level of laziness, and impatience and inability to think for ourselves (by the way of autocorrect, instant phone books, texting, instant Wikipedia, etc) and reliance on the technology and conveniences like curbside pickup hinder our capacity for physical activity and other conveniences hinder humans from using our minds, memory capacity, and brain function. If you don’t use it you lose it.

If you teach a man to fish, you will teach him for a lifetime… if you take away the man’s reason to get up on his feet and fish at all, he becomes lazy and helpless.

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This Has Got To Stop

While the American Academy of Pediatrics is fervently reminding parents to limit screen time of children and further recommends allowing zero screen time at all for kids under 2 years old, tech companies like Apple are busy creating products like this iPad apptivity seat seen here.

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This is a gross mis-invention that plays on our growing need to techify everything while at the same time we thirst for the new and improved shortcuts in life. This is both about over the top consumerism and laziness. It seems like hustle and bustle is praised while overloading our lives with things makes us too busy to hold our kids, so we hunger for inventions to plug them in to. If we can just plop our kids down and plug them into apps, the technology can raise them while we feel great about it because we get tricked into thinking they are learning something that we can’t give them like math facts at 2 months old. This is bullshit, and needs to stop. Shame on the companies that make products like this and shame on us parents for letting our kids get suckered into being obsessed about technology practically before they learn how to roll over.

Today the CCFC sent the following letter to Apple’s CEO demanding that the company end its licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad Device.

January 14, 2014

Tim Cook, CEO
Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Cook,

We are writing to urge Apple to end its licensing agreement for Fisher-Price’s Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. The Apptivity Seat is a bouncy seat for an infant—with a place for an iPad directly above the baby’s face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. Its design encourages parents to strap down babies as young as newborns just inches from an iPad. We understand that Apple believes it is not responsible for the content of apps and videos made for its devices. Clearly Apple is responsible, however, when it grants a license to a product whose design promotes irresponsible use of iPads and is potentially harmful to infants and toddlers.

The Apptivity Seat is a greater threat to babies’ healthy development than any other screen device. Because the iPad screen is unavoidable, infants are literally a captive audience. In addition, screens can be mesmerizing and since babies are strapped down and “safely” restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants alone with the iPad for extended periods of time*. While screen media for babies is controversial, no experts endorse leaving babies as young as newborns alone with an iPad and many believe that it is harmful—depriving infants of activities and interactions proven to be crucial to learning and healthy development.

The Apptivity Seat has clearly damaged Fisher-Price’s brand. CCFC’s petition urging Fisher-Price to recall the Apptivity Seat has nearly 13,000 signatories—more than any petition we’ve hosted in our 13-year history. The Apptivity Seat has also been the focus of dozens of scathing articles and opinion pieces. In response, Fisher-Price has taken the unusual step of distancing itself from its own product by placing a disclaimer about it on its website.

Fisher-Price does not bear all of the responsibility for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. By licensing the iPad to Fisher-Price, Apple is equally responsible.

We have enclosed a copy of the petition which we sent to Fisher-Price, along with excerpts of selected comments that parents and professionals wrote on the petition. We hope you will take their concerns seriously and end your licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. We also ask that you pledge not to license the iPad or iPhone or any other Apple screen device to a product that literally makes babies a captive audience. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further.

Sincerely,

Susan Linn, EdD, Director, CCFC

Josh Golin, Associate Director, CCFC

Video

Computer Programmer Gives Homeless Man Computer And Teaches How To Code

This story is heartwarming and inspiring. Watch what happens when a computer programmer decides to give a homeless man his laptop and teaches him how to code.

American Academy of Pediatrics Releases New Statement On Limiting Screen Time For Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement today (Oct. 28) in the journal Pediatrics that children should be limited to less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time per day and shouldn’t have TVs or Internet access in their bedrooms, according to new guidelines from pediatricians.

This isn’t unlike statements they have made before about limiting screen time to under two hours, but they’ve updated their statements to include all forms of “screen media” like smart phones, tablets, TV, video games, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

In today’s society we are a nation of technology consumers, to say the least. At this very moment my three kids are playing a video game together, I’m blogging and my husband is in his office on a computer as well. Many of the things I do in my free time do include a screen. I don’t read the “paper” but I read the news daily in online magazines and newspaper sites, I also sometimes read my books on a kindle and we often google my kid’s homework if we don’t know what we are doing or look up recipes for dinner. You know how it is, tablets and such are a big part of our lives. I probably don’t limit their (and mine) screen times as much as I should. This is all not to mention the newly added screen time they experience at school. They now learn daily on smart boards, iPads and computers in the classroom. So even though they may only play video games for an hour or watch a movie at home, they are still on screens throughout the day both in school and then at home. My kids have even said that they often don’t go outside during the school day, but get to play iPads instead during “recess” at school. (Don’t get me started on how ridiculous that is). 1kidstv

According to the AAP, an average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily. Now, THAT is astonishing! Many teens and pre-teens have cellphones or iPads and iPod touches and kids ages 13 to 17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month. As bad as I feel that I don’t limit my kid’s media consumption enough, I can safely say that we are below average according to those stats.

In addition to the guidelines for kids, the AAP says that children under 2 should get zero screen time at all. (Now who hasn’t put their baby in a swing for ten minutes with Baby Einstein in front of them for ten minutes while mom gets to take a quick shower or go to the bathroom?) Oops.

Unlike the old guidelines, the AAP does recognize the benefits of educational media such as Sesame Street, but they warn against kids being able to view inappropriate shows and teens having free-reign of the internet.

What do you think? Do you limit your kid’s screen time and do you even know how much time they spend on media devices at school? Is two hours a time that you can stick to for your kids? I do worry about my kid’s screen time and I worry about things like eye strain, carpel tunnel type injuries or them being constantly overstimulated by flashy screens that will cause boredom when they play with non technology things. I also worry about dumbing them down, because they stop using their actual thinking power when everything is autocorrected for them. This happens to me when I use the GPS in the car. I stop actually thinking about the directions and just follow the prescribed route. I have also noticed with my own increased use of autocorrect, I rely on it to help me spell words that I may have actually had to think about how to spell it in the past. I really think sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we need to keep a balance in our lives and make sure we use technology (because hey, it’s awesome and I don’t believe to be completely inherently bad), but don’t overuse it where it becomes a problem.

iOS 7.0 Review

My iO-experience
Guest Post Written by Adam Parker

The Download

I updated my iPhone 4s with the highly anticipated iOS7 late last night and after maybe 40 minutes to an hour of wait time I was finally able to dive into the latest and greatest software provided by the tech giant, Apple Inc.,  All set with the fresh install, I played around a bit before falling asleep with said phone in hand.
Right off the bat I quickly noticed just some of the over 100 changes made from previous updates.

Visuals

The first thing you notice is the brand new look of iOS7, it’s  a cool, calm, flowing, semi-alive system.  It’s able to flow freely as it (or you) want it to.  They changed some things about the graphics so the background is trippy and 3D looking (Just don’t tell James Cameron) while the icons are flat.

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Changing From App To App

This whole opening two apps at once idea that Apple is implementing to compete is addressed, well sort of. See before you would double tap the home button to reveal the apps at the bottom. You could always have switched from one app to another very quickly but according to Samsung you couldn’t. Well now it shows the what was posted on the screen last time you accessed that app. If you swipe it up you can close out of the app, or you can go into the already open app.  Apple is making it appear like they corrected it when in reality Samsung is trying to make something out of nothing special. Keep in mind, opening two apps at once is pointless because even though my phone can multitask, my two thumbs cannot.  I mean I can listen to music, talk on the phone and search the internet at the same time, so that’s a plus.  Maybe that’s just an AT&T thing, but take that Galaxy.  Now I’ve never used any other phone other than the iPhone because let’s face it, I have an iPhone so I don’t need or want anything else.  And there’s really no need to use a phone that is bigger than my iPad mini anyway, because my hands and pockets aren’t that large either.

SIRI

Unfortunately they made the British Siri voice sound worse, but added a male Siri who sounds like your friend’s dad when he was 27.  Also the lady is like that Velma girl from Scooby Doo who says ‘jinkies’ all the time. I much preferred having the British Siri because I felt like I was James Bond.  The speed in which the voices talk has changed as well, so I believe my guy – let’s call him Samuel?  That will never catch on. Hmm, let’s call him Eric- yes, he sounds like an Eric.  Well, Eric speaks too fast, and in contrast, the voice over guy speaks too slowly.

If you ask Siri where to hide a dead body, she says “I used to know the answer to this” or “very funny.”  I like how you can see what type of questions to ask.

Other Features

Some other cool features are the quick menu that you slide up is super convenient and you can control a multitude of things with a few swipes, and the menu you slide down is smart and awesome.

Safari is a nice update and you can now open more than 8 tabs.

I’m not a fan of the newer calendar update.

In the lock screen all the pictures will zoom, which looks cool on photos that you took from far away, but an image that was originally meant for the whole screen won’t work.

The update takes some getting used to especially navigating around the camera and camera roll.  The new photo place is confusing and I’ll never be able explain it to my mom.  Also, I’m not sure yet what constitutes as a ‘moment’ but I appreciate the interpretation.

Wrap Up

All in all, this whole iOS7 update is a hipster’s wet dream or perfect for any girl who enjoys throwing up piece signs while catching a tan on her Facebook cover photo.  That being said, two hipsters walk into a bar:  The first hipster did it before it was cool.  The second hipster did it ironically.

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