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An Around the World Look At When Kid’s Get Cellphones/Smartphones

While no one seems to know when the best age to give a child a cellphone/smartphone is, a recent article entitled When kids get their first cell phones around the world takes a snapshot of how parents in different countries seem to have answered the question. Cost certainly plays a big factor, but US parents seem to be more willing to give their children phones at an earlier age, starting at age 6. If you are not familiar with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics on media use, you can find a write up on their site.

Brain Changes Found in Teens with Fixated with Smartphones

Teens overly attached to their smartphones show higher levels of a neurotransmitter that slows down brain signals, South Korean researchers reported at the recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. The research linked the impact on the brain signals to increased levels of addiction, anxiety and depression, one radiology professor said.

Yondr Cell Phone Pouches Growing in Popularity at Schools and Concert Venues

Have you been to a concert venue where you are given a special locking pouch that keeps phones locked within a designated no-phone zone, outside of which the phone can be unlocked for your use? Most likely those pouches are from a company called Yondr. They are gaining popularity with performers such as The Lumineers, Louis C.K., Alicia Keys, Dave Chappelle to cut down distracting cell phone sounds and texting and talking during their performances.  Dave Chappelle is also using the system to cut down on people video recording his show and sharing the material online, possible driving away others from coming to a performance because they think they have already seen all his new material. Now schools are beginning to use the system as well.

Parents Need to Talk about Kids and Smartphones

Each generation of parents has worried about the new technologies that have impacted their children’s lives from radio up to today’s mobile devices. Today’s devices are inescapable, and coupled with the allure of social networking,  are having a profound impact on the way adolescents communicate with one another and spend their free time. While some experts say it is too soon to sound the alarm on smartphones, a recent article in Time magazine entitled,” We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones” points out that the latest statistics on the incidence of teen suicide and depression are rising sharply and may be connected to the proliferation of smartphones. These statistics alone make this an issue that parents should be talking to each other about and to their teens as well.

New Study Released on the Effect of Digital Media on Teen-Parent Relationships

Many teens and their parents agree that digital devices are a source of concern, anxiety and conflict, according to a new study from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The study, “The New Normal: Parents, Teens and Digital Devices,” is based on a on a comprehensive survey of 1,200 teens and parents. Conducted in April, it is the first such study of teens and families in Japan, where 90 percent of parents and teens own a smartphone, and the first to compare those insights to existing U.S. data from Common Sense Media on digital media use among families in North America. The study found that most parents of children ages 13-18 felt their teens were addicted to mobile devices, and many parents felt addicted themselves. In both countries, one in three teens thought their parents were addicted to their mobile devices.

In addition, American teens and parents feel that digital devices a greater source of conflict among teens and parents than do those in Japan; in fact, one in three U.S. families reported having an argument every day. More teens in the U.S. also felt that mobile device use has hurt their relationship with their parents, while in Japan, more parents felt their family relationships have been hurt by mobile device use.

Setting a Cell Phone Policy – Schools and Classrooms

With kids getting cell phones at younger and younger ages (10 is now the average), schools are struggling to catch up on establishing proactive policies about when and how the devices can be used. If your school is working on these policies, or if you are interested in how teachers are handling the situation in other schools, check out 3 Tips for Managing Phone Use in Class. While this article is written for teachers, parents may also find it useful in setting up a policy for home, using the questions posed for starting a dialogue about cell phone use.

Ways to Stop Your Technology Addiction

We are living in a time when adults spend an average of three hours a day on their phones, the average work email gets read in six seconds, and forty-six percent of people would prefer to have a broken bone than a broken phone. We are living in a world with technology addiction. A new book by Adam Alter entitled Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked shares ways to survive in the age of behavioral addiction.

One of the things Atler suggests is to think about proximity. If you don’t need your phone by your side, put it somewhere you cannot easily reach it. He also advises to turn off some non-essential notifications. Another tip is to bury those apps that are the most addictive for you to the last screen page. All of these actions can help you control your phone, not the other way around. Interested in more? Take a look at this article on the Time web site.

Your Cell Number – Are You Sharing It Too Freely?

Here’s a bad piece of news. Our cell phone numbers becoming a lot like Social Security numbers: they are the gateway to our identities, providing an entrance to personal data – your email address, physical address, even physical whereabouts—and all the personal information that is kept about you by nearly all corporations, financial institutions, and social media networks. Yet when we are asked for our cell numbers for whatever reason, we often give them out without even a second thought.  What can you do? Take a look at these tips and use common sense. If you are asked for your phone number, it never hurts to ask why.

Banning Smartphones for Those Under 13?

A group in Colorado called Parents Against Underage Smartphones is looking into putting a ballot initiative up that would require retailers to submit reports to the state government verifying that they had inquired about the intended user for each smartphone sold, and fine those that repeatedly sell phones to be used by young children and preteens. Many critics understand the reasoning behind the proposed law, but think it oversteps the government's role into private family life. What’s your opinion?

Apple’s New iPhone Operating System (iOS 11) To Feature ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ Mode

When iOS 11 comes to iPhones (and iPads) this fall, the new operating system will include a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode users can turn on. When the feature is activated, your iPhone can tell when you may be driving and will automatically mute your notifications so the screen remains dark. You can also set up your device to send your favorite contacts an automatic reply to tell them you are driving and will get back to them when you arrive. An excellent idea for all drivers, especially teens, so be sure to check it out this fall.

Do Your Apps Have an Appetite for Data?

As kids and their cell phones are about to head into summer vacation mode, you may want to look at ways to help the whole family stop the burn when it comes to cell phone data. One of the best ways to do that is to figure out how much data your favorite apps use and adjust usage accordingly. It is the best way to help you avoid costly overages or painfully slow speeds, depending on your carrier. Not sure where to start? Take a look at this article from USA Today that breaks down the data usage of several popular app data hogs including Netflix, YouTube and Google Play, and gives tips on how to keep your data in check.

What Do You Really Need to Do to Protect Your Smartphone?

Brian Chen of the Tech Fix blog on The New York Times recently prompted a reality check for smartphone users on what is really need to protect your device. Check out his advice on why you should buy a case, and maybe a screen protector, but pass on the extended warranty. If you missed it, also check out his take on tips and myths of how to extend your smartphone’s battery life.

Fooling Your Phone’s Fingerprint Scanner

Fingerprinting has become a standard method of authenticating your identity, being that no two fingerprints are exactly alike. As it turns out, researchers at New York University and Michigan State University have recently found they are hardly foolproof. The team has developed a set of fake fingerprints that are digital composites of common features found in many people’s fingerprints. Through computer simulations, they were able to achieve matches 65 percent of the time, though they imagine the scheme might not be as successful in real life. Still, it is another link in the reasoning behind more two- step authentication methods for accessing information that many companies are promoting.

Affordable Smartphones

If you are debating whether or not to get your child a Smartphone, you may want to take a look at a list recently published by Time magazine. These 5 Smartphones Under $300 Are Perfect for Kids and Teens is a list of fully capable, durable smartphones that are on the low end of the price range. Each of them are unlocked, contract free and do not require any kind of commitment of service to purchase, making them a great choice for kids.

The Place of Calculators

One movie you and your family may be interested in if you are curious about the history of technology is Hidden Figures, a story about the African American women who conceived some of the important mathematical constructs and engineering that aided the early US space effort. The movie shows the implementation of an IBM mainframe computer as part of the effort, but what may be shocking to some younger viewers is that smartphones, computers, and even calculators today possess several hundred times the computing power of that early device.

With the amazing capabilities of technology today, many are questioning their place in high school and college classrooms. Students in many high-school math classes employ graphing calculators, but research has shown the devices are often banned in high-level math classes at large research universities. Educators and experts continue to debate whether calculators help or harm math instruction. What are your thoughts?

Coming Between a Teenager and Their Phone

Is threatening to take away your teen’s phone the deterrent you think it is? What is really going through the mind of your teen when you do take the phone away? Answers to those questions and more is covered in an eye-opening article on the Child Mind Institute site called When Should You Come Between a Teenager and Her Phone?

Family Phone-Free Zones Urged

A new article on the Common Sense Media site urges parents to set up Phone-Free zones to


Teenagers spend almost nine hours each day in front of screens, including television and smartphones, according to Common Sense Media.

Kids Treat Their Phones Like a Tutor Not a Textbook

Are you curious about how your kids are using their phones to do homework?

A Smartphone Contract for Kids

If your child has a smartphone, it is a good idea to institute some rules to prevent trouble before it starts.