How New Digital Technologies Make It Possible to Privatize Censorship and Manipulate Citizen-Users

Photo Credit: @NewYorkDailyNews

For most Americans, protecting free expression means countering threats from government. Private corporations are not usually seen as threatening free speech. But as private technology companies increasingly mediate access to information and services, the distinction between governmental and private censorship becomes less clear. Concepts of free speech and freedom of expression may need to be revised and enlarged to take account of new threats in the age of digital communications – and policies to protect freedom of expression may need to counter threats, often subtle, from the private sector as well as government.

New Censorship Technologies and Practices

Since the invention of writing, heavy handed governmental forms of censorship targeted ideas or words deemed dangerous by authorities, but at the risk of drawing more attention and public debate to the ideas or words targeted for suppression. Contemporary threats, barely recognizable as censorship, more often come from steering or soft censorship. Using new communications technologies, corporations – and government agencies operating indirectly through corporations – are able to intervene in expressions before they happen. Search engines, auto-predictive keyboards, machine learning algorithms and filters originally designed to keep children safe on the Web have become tools for modifying citizen behavior and altering communications. A few examples help to illustrate these worrisome practices:

  • A recent update from Apple to the iPhone keyboard made it difficult for users to enter the words abortion or suicide into their smartphones. Whatever the intentions, this can make it difficult for iPhone users to take perfectly legal or constructive actions such as searching for abortion clinics or finding information about suicide prevention.
  • The source code of a recent Android handset update made by Google contains a dictionary of over 165,000 words users would not get help to complete from the auto predict or spell-check functions built into their devices – including terms like preggers, intercourse, lovemaking, butt, geek, thud, pizzle, and other supposedly dirty words.
  • In mainland China, searches for “human rights” on Google often return the question “Did you mean hunan rice?” and a series of rice-based recipes.
  • Edward Snowden’s revelations about digital surveillance by the National Security Agency suggest that U.S. technology companies have been surprisingly amenable to surrendering user data to intelligence authorities, with companies like Microsoft providing government easier access to its services through Skype, Outlook email, and SkyDrive cloud storage.
  • Blocking or tracking taboo words or language is a particularly useful way for understanding next-generation censorship. Many of these soft censorship technologies interfere with people’s use of certain words or expressions – or enable surveillance actors to track ideas or communications defined as threatening or undesirable.

Tracking and Steering Citizen-Users

Digital communications technology has also proven to be useful for collecting information about users in order to predict their needs and desires and steer their behavior. Unlike media manipulation or propaganda, which focuses on changing popular beliefs and social behaviors on a large scale, digital approaches aim to track, predict, and manipulate the behavior of individual users. For instance, Facebook’s “News Feed” has long tried to shape users’ choices by algorithmically predicting which content is most likely to keep people on the site and automatically removing content that users might find uninteresting or objectionable. For this company and many others, there is little need to challenge or change user beliefs in overt ways when more subtle forms of steering are possible given the ease of collecting and analyzing digital data on what individuals are doing or what they might find attractive or unappealing.

Protecting Free Expression in a New Era

Given the subtlety of contemporary forms of censorship and steering often practiced by private corporations, freedom of expression and choice can no longer be construed simply in terms of protection against governmental infringements. By better understanding the newest mechanisms for regulating language and steering citizens, we become better able to make informed policy decisions. Several new ways to protect free expression should be considered for the digital age.

  • Independent auditors may need to review search engines and algorithms, given their enormous power to shape what can be found on the Internet and how findings are ranked. Private companies have a legitimate interest in protecting their private intellectual property, but it should be possible for auditors to certify that search engines are not biased or designed to be coercive without divulging any details that amount to true trade secrets.
  • Users should not be regarded as disinterested in the possible biases of steering devices. Terms of service agreements could be simplified and rewritten so as not to discourage users from peering into the operations of the services they use.
  • New public technology services may also be needed. Instead of a proprietary search algorithms like Google, open-source search engines could be created along the same lines as Wikipedia, with users contributing to the creation and operation of searches. Algorithmic gatekeepers could be opened up and made intelligible to people with little technical knowledge. Universities might be best equipped to administer public knowledge platforms, because they are present in many countries and regions, enjoy academic freedom in many parts of the world, and have access to advanced research resources and technical experts not dependent on corporations for employment.

Well-designed new policies and institutions could help democratic nations – and peoples aspiring to freedom – to parry manipulative uses of digital technologies. Optimal policies must be future-oriented and able to accommodate rapidly changing technologies. Of course, new technologies and the companies that devise and deploy them deserve to prosper in coming decades – but only in ways that protect vital public interests in transparency and full freedom of expression.

Social For Social: 5 Professional Ways For Social Workers to Effectively Use Social Media

Whenever you hear the context of social work in social media, it primarily generates unlikely images of disciplinary hearings and confidentiality breaches. But on the contrary, incorporating social media in social work could be very beneficial and will serve as a productive outlet for many social workers who want to show to everyone a glimpse of their world and of what it truly means to become one.

It’s inevitable for some social workers to get hesitant about involving in social media and that’s perfectly understandable. Most of them just don’t want to break the law and boundaries between them and their clients. With almost 3 billion active social media users, it’s easy to see the picture. One wrong post and your career will be in jeopardy.

The good news though, is that there are professional ways to connect to your clients, gather support from your colleagues and improve your knowledge. Below are five ways social media can aid social workers.

Feed Yourself With Information


Social workers will learn about social work through reading books and case studies. However, one fact remains – social work is ever-changing and changes its mode as fast as people do. To keep updated with the changing practices, one needs to plug in online, in social media for starters.

For example, you can follow and keep tabs on different social work centers through their social channels to learn more about their practices as well as the practices in another country. You can also follow different companies with blog posting service and check their blogs for case studies and informative contents.

Or if you’re working with victims of recent calamities and natural disasters, you can check the sentiments of these people about their situation through browsing for different feeds online from the locals rather than depending on the hand-me-down information that local authorities provide.

Reach Out And Create A Positive Influence

The beauty of social media is that it allows you to connect with your clients and your colleagues. You can also reach out to people with disabilities and other types of limitations that hinder them from reaching out social workers due to their condition and struggles of getting around.

For instance, if you have a social media account, they can just look for you online and ask for assistance if they can’t obtain the help they need. Furthermore, social media also enables you to reach out more people since it only takes less energy and time compared to making phone calls to just to check in for people.

Build Professional Identity

Matt Hughes – Director of One Stop Social

Most often than not, social workers face challenges when it comes to creating a professional persona. Social media platforms furnish a solid ground for establishing that identity. It also allows you to share serviceable links to credible organizations.

You can show to everyone that a commonly overlooked profession should get more credibility and attention. What you can do is acquire clients who best match the skills that you have. You can also provide and share useful contents about your profession and industry that your followers can read. For this matter, you can collaborate with a company that offers guest blog posting service to produce the contents you want.

Breed A Discussion


The ability to create a group discussion is probably one of the most positive aspects of social media for social workers. When you create conversations in social media, you’re doing it with an audience. You’re performing a useful knowledge for your co-workers, your clients, and students as well.

You can start by addressing a particular issue or topic about social work and encourage your followers and friends on social media to participate by throwing in suggestions, opinions, and experiences. You can also employ for a guest blog service to create contents that will meet your goals.

Apart from the interaction, you also open the doors of opportunities for others who get cold shoulders or have a limited voice. You know very well that representing the side of unmerited people is a big interest among social workers.

Build And Reinforce

It’s inevitable sometimes for many social workers and the people they serve to feel alone and isolated. Social media is a great platform to get care and support that you need. You’ll be able to share your experiences and get a response from your comrades in social work who know the emotional struggles of helping people with a lot of incapabilities.

You can keep in touch with your former clients by leaving a positive comment or doing a quick check on them through social media channels. Social workers, just like social networking, is always at the center of everything which makes it crucial in supporting and connecting the people around them. Your job, your life and those people you help are better off if you participate and join.

Takeaway   

We’re now living in a digital era where digitization influence almost every facet of our lives, be it at home, school or work – we are under the influence of digital revolution. It’s no longer surprising that it also invade the social work industry. With too many changes and development taking place left and right, there’s no better way to us than to adapt them and go forward. And social work is no exception.

Young Victims of Cyberbullying Twice as Likely to Attempt Suicide and Self-Harm

Children and young people under-25 who become victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.

While perpetrators of cyberbullying are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviours, researchers say.

The study, which is a collaboration of a number of researchers from across the United Kingdom (UK) including the University of Birmingham looked at more than 150,000 children and young people across 30 countries, over a 21-year period. The University of Birmingham’s Department of Social Work and Social Care, which is based in the School of Social Policy, is the oldest running social work education programme in the country established in 1908.

Their findings, published on open access in PLOS One, highlighted the significant impact that cyberbullying involvement (as bullies and victims) can have on children and young people.

The researchers say it shows an urgent need for effective prevention and intervention in bullying strategies. Professor Paul Montgomery, University of Birmingham said:

‘Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims, how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene; and more specific interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and Internet service providers to block, educate, or identify users. ‘

‘Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying programme and should incorporate a whole-school approach to include awareness raising and training for staff and pupils.’

A number of key recommendations have been made:

  • Cyberbullying involvement should be considered by policymakers who implement bullying prevention (in addition to traditional bullying) and safe Internet use programmes;
  • Clinicians working with children and young people and assessing mental health issues should routinely ask about experiences of cyberbullying;
  • The impact of cyberbullying should be included in the training of child and adolescent mental health professionals;
  • Children and young people involved in cyberbullying should be screened for common mental disorders and self-harm;
  • School, family, and community programmes that promote appropriate use of technology are important;
  • Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims, how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene; and more specific interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and Internet service providers to block, educate, or identify users;
  • Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying programme and should incorporate a whole-school approach to include awareness raising and training for staff and pupils.

The study also found a strong link between being a cyber-victim and a perpetrator. This duality was found to particularly put males at higher risk of depression and suicidal behaviours.

The researchers highlighted that these vulnerabilities should be recognised at school so that cyberbullying behaviours would be seen as an opportunity to support vulnerable young people, rather than for discipline.

It was recommended that anti-bullying programmes and protocols should address the needs of both victims and perpetrators, as possible school exclusion might contribute to an individual’s sense of isolation and lead to feelings of hopelessness, often associated with suicidal behaviours in adolescents.

It was also found that students who were cyber-victimised were less likely to report and seek help than those victimised by more traditional means, thus highlighting the importance for staff in schools to encourage ‘help-seeking’ in relation to cyberbullying.

Are Your Tweets Feeling Well?

Twitter analytic data chart

In the future, public health workers could monitor trends on social media to quickly identify a rise of influenza, depression or other health issues in a specific area, thanks to research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratorya (PNNL).

Public health trends on social media are more nuanced than looking for spikes of “I feel sick” or “flu.” To truly tap this source of public data, researchers at PNNL sought to understand patterns of how people behave differently on social media when they are sick. The researchers uncovered the expression of opinion and emotion as a potential signal on Twitter, as reported in the journal EPJ Data Sciencea.

“Opinions and emotions are present in every tweet, regardless of whether the user is talking about their health,” said Svitlana Volkova, a data scientist at PNNL and lead author of the study. “Like a digital heartbeat, we’re finding how changes in this behavior relate to health trends in a community.”

From millions of anonymous tweets, a digital heartbeat

At a time when corporations mine information from social media accounts for targeted advertising and financial gain, researchers at PNNL asked how they could use this data to benefit the public. One of those areas is public health. It takes health workers weeks to discover influenza trends the traditional way: by monitoring how many sick people visit clinics. By discovering trends in real time, social media could be the game-changing solution public health workers have been looking for.

But can tweets replace a health exam for detecting a rise in the flu or other health threats? Volkova’s research suggests so. The research team studied 171 million tweets from users associated with the U.S. military to determine if the opinions and emotions they express reflect visits to the doctor for influenza-like illnesses. They compared military and civilian users from 25 U.S. and 6 international locations to see if this pattern varies based on location or military affiliation.

For privacy, the tweets used in this study were anonymized. The goal of the research is to discover generalized public health trends, not diagnose the health status of individual users.
Overall, they found how people behave significantly varies by location and group. For example, tweets from military populations tend to contain more negative and less positive opinions, as well as increased emotions of sadness, fear, disgust and anger. This trend is true regardless of health.

The baseline is fuzzy, and that should be no surprise. People behave differently based on the world immediately around them. To that end, the researchers identified location-dependent patterns of opinion and emotion that correlate with medical visits for influenza-like illnesses. And a general trend did appear: Neutral opinions and sadness were expressed most during high influenza-like illness periods. During low illness periods, positive opinion, anger and surprise were expressed more.

Next, the research team will study whether these behaviors can be used to predict a change in health trends before they happen. If this method works in real time, public health workers could look into the future by asking “How are your tweets feeling?”

How Social Media Can Impact Your Self Esteem

Mood emojis

Since social media began with the launch of MySpace (and even the blogosphere and forums before it), people’s real world minds and moods have been affected by what they see online. We now have a constant flow of information and opportunities for attention from others, and the need is often dominant in our thoughts, preventing us from fully paying attention to either the situation or ourselves.

Have you felt a meta-commentary running through your mind of “how will people perceive this on Facebook?” or “How can I make an amazing photo about this?” Does viewing other people’s profiles make you feel a sense of pride in those around you or envy about a series of selected accomplishments? Perhaps the simplest question is, does looking at social media make you feel better or worse about yourself?

Let’s take a brief look at some of the ways social media might be affecting your self-esteem.

You Are Being Impacted Through Social Comparison

Social comparison existed before social media, but it was only limited to the people you met in person and your neighbors, and you could make a much more detailed judgment about these individuals.  One could see or hear flaws and struggles, as well as triumphs, making social comparison a more acceptable (albeit still unhealthy) practice.

Think about the pictures you see and your thoughts surrounding them. Everyone else seems to be doing something interesting, and most people don’t realize that for every person they see posting vacation photos, there are a hundred people who aren’t. This leads to unsafe comparisons.

Image Crafting Is an Unseen Art

When you look at a news feed or a social media page, people don’t realize they’re not seeing everything. Even the more negative matters are portrayed through a lens of sarcasm and usually fall into the category of life’s daily problems. Yet things such as self-doubt, emotional issues, and traumatic experiences are usually not talked about at anything more than a surface level. People will talk more extensively about a new relationship or an amazing vacation as opposed to a break-up or a period of personal uncertainty.

People, in their efforts to garner attention and a positive representation, will put their best online foot forward. They want to look impressive. They will spend time (or waste time, depending on how one looks at it) to receive a boost to their self-esteem. Much like how photos of models are airbrushed, profiles are similarly sculpted.

Constant Tracking Can Have Adverse Effects

Some of us might feel like we are never separated from our technology or our need to update others of our lives. Our actions are constantly being watched and tracked by our devices and friends, and that can impose an otherwise unwanted burden on us, making our failures all the more difficult and raising suspicions in others. Corporations might also use social media to market to us, trying to take advantage of weaknesses we might see in ourselves.

While you can prevent some of the more technical aspects of tracking your location by using a VPN or a proxy, you will also want to be careful about what you share online. People can’t judge you (nor should they) about what you do or don’t put up, and it’s your right to share as much or as little of your life as you wish.

Cyberbullying and Negative Commentary

While it often happens in younger circles and on some platforms more than others, the effects of cyberbullying are well-known and can have long-term, adverse effects on an individual’s self-esteem. The constant negative commentary that occurs on these sites can also affect one’s mind, even when the commentary isn’t directed at the reader. Given the current setup on the internet, most cyberbullying happens on social media platforms, and people need to be prepared for this.

If you know you are being cyberbullied or have someone under your care is, take immediate action to block them, and, if the severity of the situation calls for it, contact the authorities. People’s self-esteem is not worth second chances in these cases; the situation can be avoided.

An Emphasis on Connection Can Be Helpful

One of the things that can help our sense of self-esteem is the feeling we have a legitimate and emotional connection to the people in our lives that we care about. Social media, and the internet in general, has allowed us to maintain these connections more easily. While cyberbullying and a constant stream of abusive messages create problems, being able to contact a support network and understand that there are people to confide in is likely to be helpful. Exposure to empathetic individuals and other people who are otherwise hard to reach will also be useful.

It would be best if instead of focus on comparing yourself to people you barely know to try and make these more “real” connections even stronger. You can control who you follow on social media. While you shouldn’t place yourself in a bubble, you don’t need to consistently subject yourself to material that makes you feel poorly about yourself.

How do you use social media? Do you think there is a solid middle ground that lets people utilize social media without adverse effects? Do you see other people changing based on other people’s actions on social media? Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.

How to Be Truly Connected to People in Our Technology Obsessed World

technology fast

It’s early morning and your alarm has just sounded its daily wake-up chime. Without thinking about it, you reach straight for your phone and scroll through social media seeing what all your friends and favourite celebrities have been up to since you last scrolled your feed 7 hours ago.

A notification pops up, it’s the little head and a plus sign, you’ve got a new follower! Filled with an immediate rush of endorphins, you head to their page to snoop some of their recent photos, leave a few likes, post some meaningful comments and follow them back. ‘Wow, we have a lot in common, and they don’t live too far away from me!’ you think. When your new follower reciprocates with interaction on your account it the coming days, you’re sure you’ve made a new virtual, perhaps soon to be in-person, friend.

A week passes and you remember that you should message that new follower to see if they’d like to catch up some time and then the realization hits — you’ve been unfollowed and you can’t help but feel disheartened by thinking your previous interactions on social media were more than a vain ploy for more likes, more comments, and more followers. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s making us forget how to truly connect with people in today’s technology obsessed world.

Sure, technology has completely changed our lives and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that technology has brought me. Writing this article on my laptop from home, for instance, once wouldn’t have been possible without the internet and all the information available at our fingertips.

The question remains though, how do we properly connect with people beyond our laptop screens and the often-false nature of social media? Here are a few ways to authentically connect with like-minded people in-person, just like our parents and grandparents used to.

Smile

Smiling is powerful. It indicates to the world that you’re open to meeting new people and starting a conversation. Even if it’s a friendly nod as you run or bike past someone, it fosters what we all ultimately want — connection and belonging. As Paul Ekman, one of the world’s leading experts on facial expressions found, ‘smiles are cross-cultural and have the same meaning in different societies.’

Next time you’re thinking of ordering your food or coffee through an app on your phone, take the extra time to visit your favourite coffee shop or restaurant and order in-person. Walking into a space with a positive outlook and a smile on your face will bring other high vibe people into your world.

Find local meet-ups or activities that like-minded people attend

This might seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out! Use technology to find ways that will help you connect with like-minded people. Search for local meet-ups, a new gym class or in-person educational class or training and sign up. Don’t overthink it! Just sign up, show up and see who you meet along the way. Being in a room of like-minded people instantly gives you something to talk about and helps foster connections that you wouldn’t otherwise find scrolling through your newsfeed.

Turn off notifications

A 2016 study by dscout, found we touch our phones about 2,617 times a day! The constant ding and beep of our devices has made our attention spans short and interrupts us when we’re working, and more importantly when we’re spending time with loved ones or out making new friends.

Give yourself time each day, or each week if that’s where you need to start, with phone notifications turned off. Not having the constant buzz of phone notifications will allow you to actively listen to conversations and properly appreciate your surroundings when you’re out and about.

Just say yes

When someone invites you to a new place, new activity or on an adventure, just say yes. Don’t overthink things and see what new opportunities and people come into your life as a result of getting out and about in the world. This doesn’t mean you should be constantly running around with no down time, but when someone suggests that you grab that coffee ‘sometime’ or asks you to fill in on the social soccer team, just make a plan and stick to it.

Learn to be on your own without technology

This also relates to the point above. Saying yes to meeting new people and putting yourself out there by attending local events or classes doesn’t mean you must be constantly out and about. If you’re an introvert or know you need some downtime by yourself each week, schedule it into your calendar. Knowing you have that set time each week to unplug and read or book or get outside and exercise will help with recharging your energy. After all, once we can be by ourselves without constantly checking our phones, we’re going to be so much better at connecting with people in-person too.

While technology has helped us do things we never thought possible, taking the time to experience the world without being constantly tethered to your device, observing your surroundings and making the effort to meet like-minded people will help you truly connect with people.

Innovation in Social Work: Where Does it Come From?

As social workers, we often confront complex situations. And we are all about developing solutions and strategies for change. In doing so we draw on our past experience, research, the experience of colleagues, and best practices. But sometimes we come up short and find we need new ideas–we find that we need to innovate.

What is innovation, anyway? Merriam Webster defines it as “a new idea, device, or method” or “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about innovation in social work, wondering how we get and develop our new ideas. Maybe we need to do something new to deal with a practice or policy situation we’ve never encountered before, or with a radically-changing environment. Or perhaps we just think our work needs a new approach to keep it fresh, or to increase our capacity to engage our client systems. Regardless, innovation is a part of what we do in our work, at least occasionally. If it never shows up in our work, it’s probably not a good sign!

Where My Ideas Come From

My biggest source of innovation is reading and listening to what others are doing, especially others who are only “weakly” connected to me and my day-to-day work. I build on the principle of “weak ties,” that is the theory that our best sources of new strategic information come, not from our closest relationships, but from those people with whom we have only sporadic contact (see Innovation, Strategic Networks & Social Media: Or Why I’m Here for a discussion of this principle). In addition, I remember what I learned from a paper I wrote about innovation in my doctoral program: if you’re looking for new ideas, read outside your field.

What that means, in practice, is that I try to monitor content outside of social work through Twitter, that is, following thought leaders and organizations that are not social work related. I “clip” the ideas that strike me as interesting, read them, tag them as “ideas,” and store them in a program called Evernote.

This process allows me to both monitor trends and to see what others have been doing. When I have a chance, I might even write the ideas up on my blog, or in one of the internet-based social work communities that I’m in and see what others have to say about what I’ve come across. Discussing ideas with colleagues can be a really fun, creative process.

Sometimes reading outside my field means looking at another aspect of social work practice. For example, when I was working in addiction treatment settings I tried to stay abreast of the major developments in mental health, in addition to addictions.

I’ve also found new ideas by listening carefully to my clients — several of my forays into new technology (e.g., blogging, Second Life) were by inspired by hearing what my clients were doing. I was intrigued by what I heard (and didn’t quite understand what they were talking about), and so I decided I needed to explore the new technologies on my own.

The result of such exploration resulted in many new innovations in both my teaching and practice. For example, around 2004, I set up a protected blogging community for my EMDR class: all students had to complete a weekly blog entry about how they were applying the class content. Interestingly, that was the only year that 100% of the class (as opposed to the typical 70%) actually used EMDR with their clients by the end of the semester.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

So you’ve read what I do — I would love to hear how you get your new ideas. I have no doubt that there are many pathways to innovation. Please take a moment to share, in the comments, what works for you to generate new ideas, and perhaps, an example of a time that you did so.

Technology and Children: A Parent’s Survival Guide

Technology has changed the way children develop and interact with others, and while it seems to change every day, many parents are forced to keep up or get left behind.

Jessica Mirman, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, says that, even though much of technology can receive a bad representation, it is not inherently bad.

“Parents can be pretty sophisticated with technology when it comes to helping their children develop,” she said. “There are a variety of apps that can help with literacy skills. Especially for children with developmental disabilities, technology can be very helpful at home and in the classroom.”

Play it safe

Mirman says technology can be a distraction and a safety hazard across developmental periods.

“Parents need to be aware of what kinds of devices are in their homes and vehicles,” she said.

Whether it is about accidentally swallowing button batteries, the tiny batteries often found in musical greeting cards, games, Christmas ornaments and cameras, or the risks of texting and driving, Mirman suggested that parental vigilance can save lives.

“For example, button batteries are small, shiny, and very appealing to infants and toddlers who may try to ingest them,” she said. “Parents need to keep these and other batteries out of reach and keep devices secure with openings kept shut.”

The types of technology risks can change with age. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.

“We always worry about when teens, and parents too, are glued to their phones while driving,” Mirman said. “There is also teen driver safety research that says when parents are calling, teens feel that they are expected to answer, even while driving. Parents need to remember to practice what they preach and model healthy technology habits at home and in the vehicle.”

What’s trending?

Social media is another way technology changes how people develop, according to Mirman. She says social media is a good tool to keep people connected; but there are guidelines and boundaries parents need to set, starting again, with practicing what they preach.

“Parents should practice moderation and respect for others on social media,” Mirman said. “Kids are very observant, and they will pick up on what parents do and often mimic those behaviors.”

She says children and teenagers are quick to point out any hypocrisy in parents.

Widespread and improved mobile technology means teens can access social media more easily. According to a Pew survey conducted during 2014 and 2015, 94 percent of teens who go online using a mobile device do so daily.

Mirman says parents who monitor their children’s social media usage need to start early to develop a foundation of trust with their teens. Parents cannot be around all the time, and teenagers will need to understand why they need to follow the rules, even when Mom and Dad are not watching.

“If an older child or teen really wants to get their hands on something online, they will likely find a way to do it,” Mirman said. “That is why parents need to be clear about their reasoning for why the rules are in place and not just be an enforcer of the rules.”

Screen time

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children younger than 18 months should avoid the use of screen media. Between ages 18 months and 24 months, some screen-time can be introduced, with parental supervision. Between the ages of 2 and 5 years, a maximum of one hour a day is recommended. For children above the age of 6, consistent time limits should be established.

Marcela Frazier, O.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, says the amount of screen time a child has can have a negative impact on their eyesight.

“The more time children spend on devices, the less time they spend outdoors, and spending time outdoors could slow down the progression of nearsightedness, which is becoming more and more prevalent in children,” Frazier said. “Prolonged exposure to the screens of devices can cause eye fatigue, eye irritation and headaches due to the increased demand on the visual system and the tendency to not blink while using them.”

Frazier says adults usually report symptoms like eyestrain, dryness, headaches and eye irritation after prolonged use of near devices; however, children may experience these issues and not be able to communicate them accurately. Parents may notice some signs of eye irritation and fatigue related to screen-time in children manifested as excessive blinking, squinting, watery eyes, red eyes and some eye-rubbing.

The flip side

Mirman says much research has been done involving children and technology, but what happens when the parents are addicted to tech?

“If parents are distracted, they can’t pay attention to their children,” Mirman said. “Kids notice this quickly.”

She says, by being distracted with technology, parents can make their children feel rejected or unimportant. A more fluid boundary between home and work can add to that distraction.

Finding a remedy

Mirman says technology can be good, if used in moderation. Many kids can use age-appropriate video games as positive stimulants, and can use them as a way of positive social interaction with online multiplayer games. This can be especially helpful for socially marginalized children and teens.

“A lot of kids can make positive connections with others through multiplayer games or social media that they may not necessarily make in person,” she said.

She says it is important for families to create a positive culture around the phones and devices, and practice what she calls “phone hygiene.”

“Developing healthy habits is important not just for you but for the well-being of the entire family,” she said.

Innovation, Strategic Networks, and Social Media: Why I’m Here

I suspect that most of my academic colleagues think I’m crazy. They don’t understand social networking, especially not Twitter. And they really don’t understand what I am doing here.

I could explain why I’m here in many different ways and there are certainly many things I get out of social media (including relationships with some wonderful people). But honestly, one of the main reasons I’m here simply comes down to this: ideas, ideas that drive innovation and allow me to forecast trends.

Innovation and Networks

One of the most valuable papers I wrote in graduate school was a paper on innovation for a course on social work administration. I discovered then that if you want to innovate, then read outside of your field. A Harvard Business Review blog post on the Three Networks You Need confirmed the importance of noting trends outside of your familiar domains.

The authors, Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, write that managers/leaders need three kinds of social networks: operational, the people you need in order to do your work; developmental, the people who have helped you grow as a manager and leader, and to whom you turn for advice; and strategic, the people who will help you prepare for tomorrow. In other words, strategic networks are key to anticipating changes: “You need a strategic network because the forces that drive change in your field will probably come from outside your current world.

Strategic Networks, Weak Ties, and Social Media

Hill and Lineback state that strategic networks can often come from “weak ties,” that is, people we don’t know well but connect with infrequently (e.g., 1-2 times a year). However, it’s important to note that the research on which the concept of “weak ties” was based was done in 1970 (see The Strength of Weak Ties by Marc S. Granovetter), which raises the question for me about how social media might influence this concept.

I think that social media can feed strategic networks, even when we don’t have a mutual relationship with the people we are learning from. For example, I follow some people on Twitter that I really don’t interact with, but who post awesome content that covers a wide range of topics. These people are important sources of information about key issues outside of my discipline (social work).

When people tell me they don’t know how I stay abreast of all the information that I know, I confess that I don’t spend a lot of time looking for it. Instead, I look for people “in the know” who I can learn from. I take advantage of the outstanding work that they do discover and curating key content and then just check in with them periodically.

I may develop mutual relationships with some of them. But in some cases, it might simply be that I am learning from what they are sharing. Either way, this content keeps me abreast of trends outside my profession, so I am usually able to anticipate trends well before they “arrive” in my world. I think of them as my virtual key informants.

My biggest struggle with social media is that I want to gravitate toward following the people who are similar to me. For example, over the past year, I have grown to connect with an awesome international network of social workers on Twitter. I have learned a great deal from these colleagues, and I appreciate each and every one of them. So naturally, I want to spend more time interacting with them.

At the same time, I am mindful of how important it is for me to stay connected to my virtual key informants, even though they may not be similar to me or even know that I exist. Because this is often where the inspiration for something totally new originates. I think of these virtual key informants as part of my network of “weak ties”–part of my strategic network– even though, strictly speaking, I don’t have a relationship with most of them.

I would love to hear how others relate (or not) to some of these concepts. Can you connect to the idea of a strategic network? How does social media relate to this idea for you?

Why 2017 Is the Year to Join Instagram

Did you know that by the end of 2017 around 70.7% of all brands are expected to have a profile on Instagram, or that businesses who have utilized their post boosting advertising options have been successful in 70% of cases?

A new report looks at these stats and a lot of other interesting data, which suggests 2017 is the year your business should join the popular social network.

A Large and Engaged User-Base

To have success in your marketing campaigns you must be able to get consumers invested in your products or services by creating an emotional response. Interacting with your target audience is the only way you can build their trust and accomplish this goal. This is where Instagram becomes such a powerful tool.

The platform is growing at a fast rate with over 300 million users logging on every single day. These users make an average of 95 million posts, which generate 4.2 billion likes!

The 18 to 30 demographic (the holy grail for a lot of businesses) accounts for 55% of Instagram’s users in the United States.

Furthermore, around 50% of all users follow at least one business’s account.

If you want access to consumers, Instagram offers a direct link which an audience broad enough to benefit any business large or small. Where the network really stands out, however, is its ability to engage users like no other.

Despite having far more active users every day, Facebook, for example, is not able to generate the same rate of likes, shares, and comments on posts. This is because Instagram focuses mainly on visual content, including photos, video clips, live streaming, and stories that expire after 24 hours.

Visual content is simply much more eye-catching and requires less mental attention than walls of text. The savvy marketer who can post professional shots of products, add value with informative videos, and craft a friendly and accessible brand image by showing the inner culture of the business – is almost certain to boost conversions and sales.

The Right Approach

Of course, accomplishing this is easier said than done. Fortunately, the infographic also gives us some insight to get you on the right track.

Building trust requires you to tread a fine line between over-selling and under-selling. Top brands post on average 4.9 times a week, so it’s wise to follow a similar pattern.

You must also remember to post at the most opportune times. Business accounts offer all sorts of analytics, so over time, you can narrow down what time is the best for your individual target audience. However, in general, the most users are active on Wednesdays at 5 pm. For newcomers, this would be a good time to post your most important content.

The data also explores the most popular emojis and hashtags, which can also be important when targeting your audience and getting them engaged.

10 Useful Apps for Your Tech-Savvy Aged Parent

Are your parents aging but still wanting to keep in touch, be in the know, and continue to be avid fans of their smartphones? Now is a great time to be a tech-savvy senior, as they have far more options to choose from when it comes to applications designed to keep their lives simpler and more streamlined. While your mother or father may be huge fans of the new phones available, they may not be aware of all the great options.

They can do more than shop for best deals for catheters online; now they can take control of their lives with some great new products.

Here are ten apps every tech-happy parent should download onto their phone.

1. Pillboxie

This useful app, which is only available for iPhone, gives a visual guide to help with daily, short-term, or weekly medications. Rather than just a note that pops up on your calendar, this is a virtual medicine cabinet that helps users see and organize their meds easily, gives them a gentle reminder to mark what they have taken and see if they missed anything. This app is great for anyone taking medication that just needs a little reminder not to miss a day.

2. Mint Bills and Money

This application is here to make sure you never miss a bill payment. Available for Android as well as iPhone, the app is especially nice because, after its initial set-up, all that’s needed is a quick confirmation to go ahead and digitally pay a bill. This app makes sure that the power never goes off, the cable is always on, and the gas is available. It can also monitor your bank accounts and credit cards to show you any unusual activity or just help you check your balance. No more forgetting a payment or making troublesome trips to the bank.

3. Goodreads

Reading is such a great activity for all of us but, especially, for those of us getting on in years. This app completes the experience with a social element—users can make friends with other fans of their favorite books and leave messages for one another. Book reviews are also encouraged, and readers can list books they plan to read in the future, as well as communicate with their favorite authors. Best of all, the app is free and available for all phones and tablets.

4. Words with Friends

This app goes beyond note writing or just chatting. With this popular word game application, users can challenge friends, family, or random users to a game of scrabble. While traditional rules apply, this app puts a new twist on an old favorite. The game has no time limit, so one match can last if the two opponents need to do other things, they can message one another in the chat section, and those who want to play alone have the solo play option.

Anyone looking for a new friend to play also has the Smart Match option. This option evaluates one’s skill level and matches them to someone at a similar level. Scrabble champions can easily find others who can keep up with them while beginners do not have to get creamed by a pro.

5. Spotify

You may think of Spotify—for Android as well as iPhone—as a place to find new music, but it is also a great place to find old favorites. Does your dad go on and on about the genius of Lawrence Welk? He can find the man’s music here. Users can create personalized radio stations based on their interests and even use the app on their desktop computer to fill the room with their favorite tunes. Don’t be surprised if you catch them dancing once they have their membership.

6. Skype

Keeping in touch is extremely important to everyone in your family, especially those who are getting older. Skype is a wonderful, free app that can be used on a desktop or any phone. The technology combines video and audio for a great option to catch up. Group conversation options are also available, as well as calling a landline or cell phone if necessary. See new babies, check in on distant relatives, and even go exploring together with the help of this very fun application.

7. Lumosity

Designed to keep brains active and memory alive, Lumosity is essentially a gym for your brain that you can access from any phone or tablet. The games on this application were designed by neuroscientists in hopes of helping people challenge themselves mentally and do so in a way that is entertaining and helps them have fun.

You will not feel like you are taking a test, but rather like you are playing a low-key, entertaining video game. The application can help prevent mental issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also just improves general cognition so anyone can jump in on the fun. The app has gone worldwide for a reason—it is just great!

8. Blood Pressure Monitor

Only available for Apple phones, Blood Pressure Monitor helps users take control of their heart health and keep track of their pressure, their heart rates, and their activity. The app comes complete with reminders to take medicine or do an activity, as well as help to export any unusual activity to a doctor’s email. While this is not meant to replace any professional tools, it can help anyone with heart concerns feel better with a visual chart of just how their heart is doing and give a clear warning when something is going wrong.

9. Evernote

Evernote is an especially good one for senior citizens living alone or with limited care. The digital notebook comes in three versions, from free to premium, and offers all kinds of things. Listing different things to remember, a to-do list, audio notes, digitizing business cards, and just writing out documents are all available for both Android and Apple users. Also, it syncs up phones with desktop computers so that it can be used from any interface. Never forget a thing with the help of this great digital personal assistant.

10. WebMD Pain Coach

You have likely already used the WebMD website, which helps identify problems through symptoms, but you may not have tried this great app, though you and your parents absolutely should. It is designed to be a holistic approach to pain management and to take the mystery out of health problems, the app has a pain tracker, offers advice on pain reduction, and helps the user keep a kind of journal to show their doctor to help explain the problem. The app also has a daily goal tracker, dietary suggestions, and a built-in library of articles about preventative health to help users.

How to Make Professional Presentations

Presentation software has advanced to the point where you no longer need to be an experienced designer to put together a compelling piece of collateral that sells your message in exactly the right way. With the right materials, the right presentation software and a little bit of time, you can visualize any data that you have in the form of a terrific presentation that sells your larger idea better than numbers alone ever could.

However, this does not mean there aren’t few things you need to keep in mind. As both a marketing tool and a way to convey information, presentations are great because they’re malleable – the format can essentially be anything you need it to be at any given time. The flip side of this, however, is that there are certain traps that are all too easy for even pros to fall into that will harm your ultimate message, not help it.

If you really want to learn how to make professional presentations and you want to put your best foot forward as you send your collateral out into the world, there are a number of mistakes that you will do well to avoid at all costs.

Mistakes to Avoid

In the past, we’ve written about the fact that the role of a marketer is primarily that of a storyteller. Whether you’re communicating the story behind your brand, behind the road to release a particular product or service or even just all the ways that your company has been involved in your community, you’re still doing exactly that: telling a story.

Presentations are absolutely no different. Every story has a beginning, middle and end and you need to make sure that the content in your presentation is arranged for proper narrative flow.

Think of it like a piece of music. A piece of music might start out slow, then crescendo and build into something more powerful before hitting you with a “grand finale” and tapering off again.

In many ways, your presentation will operate on exactly the same ideas. To that end, remember that you MUST make sure information is presented not only in the right way but in the right order to complement intent and maximize impact.

If you have three subtopics within a presentation, all of which are related but are still different ideas, don’t mix and match content. Tackle one, then move onto the second, then the third, then bring it all home and show how they’re all related. Don’t jump from one to the other and back again – you’re only going to lose focus and, as a result, the attention of your reader.

Also never forget the most important rule of storytelling – find the spine and never lose focus. If you start building out your presentation and realize that you’re actually kind of covering two distinct and different topics, don’t be afraid to break one presentation into two. You’ll be able to devote more attention to selling each idea and you’ll walk away with two great pieces of marketing collateral instead of one “okay” one.

Pace, Pace, Pace

Another element of your presentation that you’ll want to pay extremely close attention to is length. This goes back to another one of the old rules of storytelling: “whatever you do, don’t overstay your welcome.”

While it’s true that presentations are naturally designed to be longer form than something like an Infographic, it’s important to recognize when you’re asking too much of your reader/viewer. Again: a presentation isn’t just a visualized form of something like a white paper. It’s a unique medium all unto itself.

When you start building your presentation for the first time, feel free to include as many slides or as much information as you want. But also don’t forget that there are three versions of your presentation that will exist – the initial outline, the “first draft” of the presentation and the heavily edited version that you release.

Only include as much information as you need to sell a particular idea and not a bit more. If you have five slides devoted to a particular sub-topic, try to get that down to three or less. Go through your presentation from start to finish and really try to experience it with fresh eyes – the same way your targets will.

Does it feel like the end of your presentation is getting a little sluggish? Does it really feel like it should be over, but there are about ten slides to go? Be cutthroat in your editing process – rest assured that you’ll thank yourself when the end result is much more powerful than it would be if it had remained bloated.

The Power of Presentations

In many ways, presentations are like the natural evolution of visual marketing by its very nature. In one single experience you can have text, images, video and more. When you consider that most consumers are up to 85% more likely to buy a product or service after watching a video, including video content inside the body of your presentations suddenly looks like a very, very good idea.

But at the same time, you need to resist the urge to fall into certain traps that are all too easy when dealing with a medium this malleable. The central message you’re trying to convey – the thesis, if you will – needs to be strong enough to justify the creation of a presentation in the first place.

It needs to be a big enough topic to warrant a lengthy experience and a compelling enough story that demands to be told in this particular format above all others. If you start from that simple foundation and build outward, you’ll be left with the best type of marketing tool – one that does your selling for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week that people can’t wait to share with their friends, family members and colleagues.

How Technology Is Improving Brain Health

In the modern age, excessive use of technology is seen to have a negative impact on an individual’s mental health. Critics ask the question: ‘If computers, and other media, do mental work for people, when are people thinking?’

Healthy brain function is extremely important for living fully. If used purposefully, technology can help boost brain activity.

Market place of better-brain function

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During the past decade, in the therapeutic void created by over 20 failed Alzheimer’s disease drugs, a new technological marketplace for ‘brain fitness’ products has emerged. From mobile apps to video games, these products aim to enhance memory, visual and spatial skills, verbal recall, concentration and executive functioning of users.

Back in October 2015, Chicago gathered over 30,000 scientists and professionals for the annual Neuroscience conference proving that there’s a growing interest in the field. With the recent boost in tech-commercialization, scientists have studied the widespread landscape of Pervasive Neurotechnology patents, helping us answer the aforementioned question.

Data-enhanced diagnostics and treatment

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Today, brain health systems are leveraging a larger population-measurement than ever before. An analysis by CNSResp helps understand precisely how individual reading pattern changes overtime, allowing better understanding of diagnoses based on the effectiveness of treatments.

Companies like Advanced Brain Monitoring and CNS Response are already deploying systems that utilize the power of big data, as shown by neurometrics-driven report systems in the image above.

Solution for aging’s varied issues

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As we advance further into the 21st century, it is fast becoming clear that we need new ways to think about healthcare, especially aging. Perhaps, we need to ask the question, ‘How can we help you live a better life?’  

By addressing the everyday health concerns of our aging population, the strategic ‘brain’ movements rely on advances in technology to detect, treat and prevent multifarious health problems prevalent amongst older adults.

Novel approaches such as wearable technology, distributed networks embedded in the living environment and health services from remote locations target several pressing needs of aging adults, facilitating early diagnosis, adequate treatment as well as physical function and social interaction.

Their real value, at a population level, lies in helping compress morbidity and in keeping with the goal of healthy people to increase the quality and years of healthy life.  

A pan-Canadian network of researchers, non-profits, government, older adults and caregivers, AGE-WELL, is harnessing the power of modern technology to provide useful solutions for healthy aging.

At present day, AGE WELL research teams are developing humanoid robots that can assist older Canadian citizens with dementia by reminding people of tasks and routines at their homes, playing brain strengthening games with them, and even acting as remote avatars for healthcare professionals.

Another team is testing the vibration-damping technology of a smart glove that stabilizes buildings against earthquakes, and uses it to reduce hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. A new tablet software that detects and analyses speech of individuals with Alzheimer’s. The list goes on.

The prevention and cure to mental illness

The past few decades have seen incredible progress in medical science; cures have been found for several incurable diseases and remarkable advances have been made in repairing and even replacing parts of the human body. In fact, the first human head transplant is due to take place in December 2017.  

The advances in mental health medicine may seem moderate in comparison, but new ways of thinking and technologies are set to revolutionise both the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and could have life-changing ramifications for patients.

Traditional approaches towards helping people with mental illness include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication, counselling, exercise and a healthy diet. New technology can be used in conjunction with the aforementioned customary methods.

Virtual reality exposure

To treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Rizzo et al. have used virtual reality (VR) (simulated real environments through digital media). By offering a sense of realism in a safe environment, the VR system gradually exposes an individual to a virtual state of being, allowing them to face his or her fears. Once the patient understands the triggers, the problem ceases to exist.

This form of treatment has also been applied to other mental health problems, where anxiety is triggered by a certain situation such as the phobia of flying or closed spaces (claustrophobia).

Computer games are therapeutic for adolescents. Many young adults are unwilling to seek therapy, and a computer game is an anonymous, fun way to receive therapeutic advice. An example of such a computer game is SPARX, which has proven to be as effective as face-to-face therapy in a clinical trial.

Mobile devices

Mobile phones have also been used to help people with mental health problems by providing timely information. A computer application produced by David Haniff aimed to present media to patients with depression in an effort to uplift their mood, and designed a game to examine the triggers of the condition; for instance, the pictures or voice of the patient’s family. Another way to lift the mood of patients is subliminal, soothing music on a mpg file to get rid of surrounding noises.

A website was released by MyPsychTES in May 2013 to connect counsellors and therapists with smartphone-users to track their emotions and lifestyle. This website effectively streamlined therapist-client communication.

The system provides real time alerts, data and automated correspondence. Technology can also be used to combat intrusive thoughts; providing positive approaches to cognition such as text on mobile phone with optimistic affirmations.

Technology and memory

Memory and technology share a complex relationship, mainly because of the argument that excessive use of tech-devices like smartphones and tablets is actually resulting in brain disengagement; causing our memory functions to suffer.

For example, the smartphone-GPS programme has made it less important for us to know our way around the city, while Google answers every question before you can work up your brain to try and remember it naturally.

Cognitive training video-games

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Software applications accessible via mobile devices and online include gaming systems that target emotional and cognitive makeup of the brain. Companies like Lumos Labs and Posit Science have secured neuro-tech patent protection on products in this area.

Getting inside the head

A certain type of technology has been developed to enhance memory, although it is primarily designed for individuals who suffered head trauma or injury and are facing memory-related challenges.

The research, which was funded by the US military, calls for implanting electrodes in the brain as a form of ‘neuroprosthetic’, allowing artificial parroting of the complex electric patterns in the brain.

These electrodes can bridge the gaps in memory, especially for individuals with brain damage or memory loss, and help recapture lost memories.

Since, there is still limited treatment for many brain-related conditions, this could be a hugely important treatment option for millions of people.

A futuristic drive

Fulfilling the promise of these rising tech-advancements depends heavily on on-going research and funding. Continued projects such as the Brain Initiative, Allen Institute Brain Atlas and Cell Types and the Blue Brain, are all paving the way for discovering new technologies and a deeper understanding of how the human brain functions.

How is Technology Transforming the Healthcare Industry

Since the turn of the millennium, the technology industry has sky-rocketed and there are many types of technology which have become a huge part of our lives. We can now get almost anything with the click of a button, be it a meal, taxi or even renting out an apartment. With the healthcare industry, many people believe it is lagging behind in regard to how some of the other industries have developed their technologies. However, there are many companies which have been working on developing the latest pieces of technology which are slowly transforming the industry.

The Issues with the Health Care Industry

The healthcare industry has certainly not had its shortage of issues over the past few years, and this has driven a number of external companies to try and solve them through designing more pieces of technology. Taking the UK as an example, it is a country where the government provides free healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS). Even though this is great because it saves a lot of money, the government are lacking sufficient funds to develop the NHS, and the rate of healthcare is actually beginning to decline.

Firstly, there is a shortage of staff, and this means that the current staff are extremely stretched and not able to provide a quality service to any of their patients. Secondly, the other big issue is that they are unable to develop the technology used in the hospitals, surgeries and care homes.

This means the healthcare industry has worsened, and people are unable to get the adequate care required. However, many people are not just relying on the government anymore and they are instead starting to utilise the companies which are trying to develop alternatives to traditional healthcare.

How is Technology Transforming it?

Because of the aforementioned issues, the healthcare technology market is now flooded with different pieces of technology which are starting to shape the industries future. A lot of these are only available to private healthcare companies, and can be accessed by paying a fee to these companies – but there are also lots which be accessed on the mass market.

For instance, the popular Fit Bit wristbands are a small item which can let you know information about your body which was previously only accessible by a doctor. They can track your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, recommend a diet and track how well you are sleeping. This is stopping people going for the same number of check-ups they would usually need and is helping to reduce the strain on staff.

There are also items such as GrandCare which can eradicate the need for elderly or disabled people to receive around-the-clock care. This is an item which is installed into the person’s home and tracks when the person takes their medicine, eats their meal or hasn’t moved for a long time. They can also use the device to communicate with their family and friends through video calls and if they haven’t moved for a long time it will send an alert to their family’s or carers phone.

To Sum Up

The healthcare industry was slightly late to the party, but there is no doubt that it is fully starting to get a grasp of how technology can help elevate to the next level. The two examples mentioned are popular now, but within the next few years there will be many more that will help further develop healthcare for people all around the world.

Erick Eiting, MD (GrandCare Systems) Interview @ 2017 Digital Health & Fitness LIVE

How Our Educational System Run With The Power Of Technology

In the future, there will be some promising new technologies discovered maybe it will include the time machine, flying cars or outer space as a vacation destination. However, these fascinating possibilities make us all the more excited and invigorated to help our future generations discover math, science, and engineering in order to achieve the impossible.

But, how will technological innovation impact our educational system and our ability to discover future technology? What sort of technologies will excite our engineers, investors, and scientists in an effort to shape their minds? Such questions keep our minds boggled when it comes to the future of our children and their education. Here, in this article, I’m going to discuss some future technologies that will shape the future of the classroom and the mind of children.

Augmented Reality Eye-Wear:

Augmented reality is an amazing technology and it seems far closer since Google validated the launch of the AR eye-wear glasses. Actually, this eyewear acts as a data layer on top of our eyes. No matter what style of glasses students wear; all data is sent to their augmented reality eyewear directly. We already have digital media textbooks, but it would be more interesting and exciting to visualize having Hitler Sitting in front of you and telling about the World War. Students will definitely enjoy this enriching experience inside and outside the classroom, which makes this technology a wonderful one.

Biometrics:

When it comes to Biometrics, it will surely bring revolution to the world of science. This future technology will actually help in understanding the physical and emotional state of children and their learning within the classroom. Depending on the signals of biometrics, each student will get customized course material. In order to understand the student’s performance, his physical traits such as facial expression, heart rate, skin moisture, and odor can be calculated, studied, and taken action on. Moreover, teachers will easily know if any student will need further assistance along with the behavioral signs like rhythm, gait typing, and voice of children. Biometric technology will also help teachers understand what teaching techniques will work out best for children.

Multi-Touch Surfaces:

Since the huge success of the iPhone, the concept of multi-touch has been a sizzling topic in the world of technology. A lot of companies including Microsoft have experimented with multi-touch surfaces. The developments in technology have made this multi-touch surface more advanced as well as cheaper. There will be more products with multi-deck surfaces in the upcoming future and a great help in student learning and change the future of technology in the classroom. Can you imagine a classroom where each student is working together with their friends around the world while using computer-generated objects?

What’s more…Other Than Technology

Introducing Children With SMART:

Make children familiar with the SMART acronym in order to keep them motivated and focused on the things they want to achieve.

The S stands for specific. Tell students to be explicit about their goals. If they want to help the community, then encourage them to specify the group of people that they want to help. It will assist in making the aspiration realistic.

The M stands for measurable which means that once you have specified the goal, then you should estimate how much your goal is going to cost you.

The A is for achievable, which implies that see whether the goal you are setting is feasible or not. Look at the size of the goal and then see if you have the time or resources to achieve it or not.

The R is for writing, which means that putting your aspiration into writing is the best way of making them realistic and achievable.

T is for the time frame, and it means that you should always have a time frame for achieving the target.

SMART is an effective way of teaching students to learn about goal setting and making dreams into reality.

The UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children Offered in Free Online Course

For the first time, the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children will be shared with learners around the world, including policy makers, practitioners and carers, in a free online course. The course has been developed by academics and practitioners from CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland) with the support of Education Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde.

Across the globe, for many different reasons, hundreds of thousands of children cannot live with their parents. To address this, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously welcomed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in 2009 driven by two fundamental principles – the ensuring of both the necessity and the suitability of alternative care.

What is meant by ‘alternative care’ is the provision of a safe and caring setting for children to live whilst they are unable to stay with their families – foster care being one example of this.

An understanding of the implications of the UN Guidelines, at a theoretical and practical level, will be explored in the ‘Getting Care Right for All Children’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered in partnership with the social learning platform, FutureLearn. The course will be conducted in English with some course materials (including text and videos) also accessible in Spanish and French, reflecting the truly global nature of this issue.

The initial concept for the course was proposed and sponsored by the Geneva Working Group on Children Without Parental Care, comprising of a number of major international child protection and child care organisations.

Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of CELCIS, comments: “Preventing unnecessary placements in alternative care is as important as ensuring appropriate alternative care when necessary.

“The UN Guidelines have been internationally agreed and we at CELCIS have collaborated with international experts, including those at UNICEF and with Nigel Cantwell, one of the influential developers of the UN Guidelines, to create this six-week course designed to make a difference to the lives of children in communities across the globe.

“We hope to attract a range of participants, from child protection professionals, those working in health and education, community volunteers and state and government officials. By the end of the course, participants will have a grasp of the key principals, pillars and implications of the UN Guidelines, taking in a view from across the world.

“To bring the learning to life, each week we’ve included an episode of a specially-made film which follows the experiences of a family with two children living in vulnerable circumstances as they move through an alternative care system.”

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, commented, “We’re delighted to be the chosen partner platform for these courses. The people that provide care for vulnerable children, in the instances, when they cannot live with their families, do an amazing job for society. We’re proud to play a part in extending the reach of the UN Guidelines to as many people as possible and we hope our platform provides an opportunity for discussion and support for those involved.”

The ‘Getting Care Right for All Children’ MOOC follows the success of the University’s ‘Caring for Vulnerable Children’ MOOC, run in partnership between both the University of Strathclyde and CELCIS, which, in its sixth run, has had over 50,000 participants from more than 189 countries since it launched in 2015.

For details and to secure a place in the “Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” course, visit the FutureLearn website.

Twenty-Two Apps for the 21st Century Therapist

Mobile applications have a lot to offer therapists.  Whether you are looking for games to play with patients, productivity or billing tools, or something to help you research, there’s an app for that.  Many supervisees, students and consultees have asked me lately what apps I recommend, so I thought it was about time I gave you a list sampling those I find most helpful and fun.  Many are cheap or free, and available for the iPad, iPhone and Android:

1. GoToMeeting

Planning on doing online therapy?  Gotomeeting has desktop and app versions of videoconferencing software, which is HIPAA-compliant.  The app version allows you to attend meetings, but the meeting needs to be initiated from the desktop version.  I use this program for the majority of my online sessions with patients and supervisees.

2. IbisMail

If you are juggling multiple roles or a portfolio career, or simply want better therapeutic boundaries, this is the email program for you.  Installed on your iPad or iPhone, this program allows you to set up automatic filters, so you can sort through junk mail.  But it also allows you to set up folders for patient emails, so that you can have them all in one place.  Then it is up to you to decide when you review your patient communications, rather than have everything coming through one inbox.  Supports multiple email accounts.

3. Flipboard

If you are wanting to add value to your twitter followers or consultees, this is a great app.  It provides a slick intuitive interface on your mobile device that pulls in stories from feeds you set, from you Facebook account to the Harvard Business Review blog.  When you find something you want to share, the app allows seamless sharing on a variety of social media platforms.  In a few minutes you can browse and share selected readings and keep up to date on current interests.

4. Bamboo Paper

This app allows you to write notes on your iPad.  It is great for note-taking during evaluations, and allows you to send these notes to Evernote as a .pdf or email yourself a copy.  NOTE: Doing this is not HIPAA-compliant if you have distinguishing identifying information in the note, so I recommend you refrain from using the cloud-based features if you have any concerns about patient privacy.  If you are using it for workshops or other personal uses, however, no worries.  And if you keep the notes local to your password-protected device, it can be a great tool.

5. Evernote

I was hesitant to add Evernote due to the recent hack they experienced, but their quick and effective response to this have actually made me more confident that this cloud-based note-taking device is still useful.  It is NOT HIPAA-compliant, so I don’t use it for patient notes ever.  That said, it is great for dictating notes about workshops, blog ideas, snapping pictures of things for study aids, and a myriad of other useful tasks.  The notes sync up between every device you have them on, so you’re always up to date.

6. iAnnotate

One of my favorites.  iAnnotate allows you to markup .pdf files on your mobile device.  If you need to sign off on a document someone emails or faxes you, no more scanning, printing, scanning again stuff.  And if you are a student or researcher this is a must-have, as it supports highlighting and annotating research articles.  Syncs with Mendeley and Dropbox so you can store your research library with notes online.

7. 1Password

How can you make your mobile device more secure and use your web-browser more safely? This may be the answer for you.  1Password installs on your mobile or desktop, and allows you to save and generate extremely long and secure passwords.  The level of encryption can be adjusted for the most cautious of password protectors.  This program also syncs over the cloud so that you always have the up-to-date passwords on all of your devices.  Even more convenient, it can bookmark your sign-in pages.  All of this is secured by double-password protection on your iPhone.  Stop using the same lame password for everything and start generating unique hard-to-crack ones for true HIPAA-compliance.

8. Mendeley

One part social network, one part research library,  Mendeley allows you to store research articles and annotations online and on your device.  It allows you to network with other colleagues to see what they are researching, share articles, and store all of your articles in one place.  Often it can even pull up the bibliographic entry from the web just by reading the .pdf meta tag.  Geeky research goodness!

9. PayPal

This is one option for billing patients and paying vendors that is good to have. You can invoice by email, transfer money to your bank account, and keep track of online payments on the website. The app works well in a pinch if you aren’t ready to swipe credit cards in your office.  NOTE, each transaction has a small fee.

10. Prezi

I’d love to see more therapists using this one.  This presentation software allows you to create dynamic visual presentations on your computer or mobile device.  You could use it to convert boring DBT worksheets to a dynamic online presentation.  Prezi supports importation from powerpoint, and provides free online hosting of your prezis as well as tons of templates and tutorials.  If you do public speaking, upload some of your prezis on your LinkedIn profile to give potential clients a vivid sense of your work.  You can see a sample here, but bear in mind that it would make more sense if I was there giving the talk.

11. DCU

I haven’t been to a bank in over 2 years, and this app is the reason why. Digital Credit Union’s Mobile Branch PC, allows me to deposit checks from patients via my iphone.  Just login, scan the checks, and in 10 minutes you’ve done your deposits for the week.  Meanwhile, the online interface allows you to keep track of your spending easily and export to Excel or accounting software if you need to.  Great for tax season!

12. Dropbox

Dropbox is a great and free way to store non-private information on the cloud.  The app allows you to email items easily, so I use it to email intake instructions to patients, press kits to people inquiring about keynotes, and a number of other items.  I also keep all my DBT worksheets on it so that they can be sent quickly and easily to patients should they be feeling in need of extra support between sessions but not acute enough to warrant hospitalization.

13. TED

This app allows you to stay inspired and experience innovation daily, by beaming TED talks to your mobile device from the offical TED site.  You can favorite, search, and share your favorite ones, or hit “Inspire me” for random ideas.  As I wrote this, I was listening to Amanda Palmer speak on “The art of asking.”  This app can allow you access to ideas outside of the filtered professional bubble with therapists often get ourselves stuck in.

14. Line2

Want a second phone line on your iPhone? This app allows you to have one. You can port your practice number to it, and stop carrying two cell phones. At $9.95 a month you can have unlimited US/Canada calling, at $14.95 a month you get a toll-free number and virtual fax.

15. Micromedex

Keeping up-to-date on medications is pretty daunting, but this app, with frequent updates, helps you keep track od a medication, its Black Box warnings, contraindications, drug interactions, adverse effects, alternate names, standard dosages and more. And now for some games!

16. Plants Vs. Zombies

This game is great for helping patients who want to learn about strategy and pacing.  Choose a certain number of plant types to plant in order to stop the zombies from overrunning your backyard.

17. Zombies, Run!

Continuing my zombie kick, this game is better than any pedometer I’ve ever used.  The more you walk or run, the further you progress in this game of fleeing zombies.  Go on multiple missions, play with friends, and even train for a 5K.

18. Kingdom Rush

This game is a classic tower defense game, which helps patients learn to make choices, control impulse spending as part of a winning strategy, and work on pacing, problem-solving and a host of other cognitive abilities.

19. Minecraft Pocket Edition

This mobile app version of Minecraft is a great way to connect with a patient’s gaming, and the app allows you to play together on a wireless LAN, so you can fight for survival or create an amazing construction right from your office together.

20. Flower Chain

This is a completely nonviolent game that focuses on setting up a chain reaction of flower blooms in order to complete each level.  Great eye candy, and a fun game for clearing the mind after a difficult session.

21. Trainyard

This puzzle game requires you to plan out and design multiple railroad tracks.  The trick is to set them up and pace them so that they all meet their goals without running into each other.  Great prompt for talking with adolescents about how they can learn to negotiate peer relationships in the same way, or learn to compromise with adults in order to get along with them.

22. Lavalanche

This puzzle game is reminiscent of Jenga, in that you have to dismantle a tower without letting the Tiki Idol fall into lava.  Another great one for executive function capacity-building around sequencing, planning and problem-solving.

So there you go, give some of these a try and let me know what you think.  Have a favorite app that you want to share?  Please feel free to comment and include the link.

How Cloud Technology Is Helping Small Businesses Work More Efficiently

Cloud technology has changed the way we work with data. It is easier to store, analyze and manage small and large bits of information from anywhere in the world. Small business owners are quick to adopt new technology because they are always looking for efficient solutions that fit their small budgets.

Stacking paper documents in files and then saving them from theft or environmental degradation is not only time taking, but also a very risky practice.

Cloud solves the problem by providing a virtual solution and making all your data available, anywhere, anytime when you need it. Let’s take a look at some areas where the cloud helps the most:

Providing security:

Regardless of the debates going on in the business world, your data is more secure on the cloud than it is on traditional storage. It was an unbelievable idea when cloud was first introduced, but small businesses jumped to the opportunity and saved all their confidential files without worrying about a private server.

There’s a reason why its so easy to trust these companies with your data. They have earned this trust by creating several layers of physical and virtual security. They hire the best people to do the job and don’t take any risks.

If you want only some managers to view confidential data, you can limit the audience. You can always encrypt your data and monitor it as you like. HIPAA approved cloud providers have their servers in different locations so natural disasters don’t wipe out the hardware. With so much security, businesses, particularly small ones, are able to flourish and expand their operations with cloud.

Being accessible:

The scare of ‘power going off’ and losing files has become unrealistic. Small business owners rely on file editing on the go without worrying about saved changes. Cloud takes care of saving documents as you keep on editing them.

The changes are updated in real-time. This means that if one employee is editing, others will be able to see the changes right away.

Accessing files is easy, any internet connection can do and an employee won’t get locked out of the file if another is working on it. Co-working has become easy and time is saved. Backups and storage is more efficient now, because cloud service providers make backups their first priority.

Easy sharing:

If you have ever dealt with Google Photos or Dropbox, you would know what this means. It is so easy to have a business meeting without worrying about printing out files and placing  them in folders to present to a client. With tablets, smart phones and laptops, your files can be brought up in a second through the cloud.

When Adobe announced its easy subscriptions via cloud to desktop applications like Adobe Acrobat Pro, Indesign and Photoshop, Media Manager of First Federal Savings Bank, Cornelius Brackett thought it was time to move to the Cloud.

“To be honest, we weren’t very taken with the idea at first because it was so different from the way we’d always done things, but when we learned that all of our print houses, sign makers and other partners were making the switch, we really had no choice but to go to the cloud,”

First Federal’s creative team enjoyed great success in their endeavors because all their subscribed apps were updated on the cloud and sharing the work was so easy. They got so used to cloud computing that Federal built an in-house creative team to manage all the bank’s creative needs.

Options of BYOD:

This is still a debatable issue, but small businesses can enjoy a lot of ease if the employees go BYOD (bring your own device). This further cuts down on the costs of hardware and equipment when the employees just bring their own device and take it back home.

Cloud plays a huge role in this because the files are just one tap away for all employees. Any emergency is easily dealt with, and sudden steps are more easily planned and taken with the cloud.

The first months after the launch of a business are the toughest, and cloud also takes the worry of security away from business owners.

Room for innovation:

Since all employees and managers have easy access to data, there is a lot of room for innovation in a small business. New ideas can be brought up and floated around without a problem.

No more email chains are needed and no more stacks of papers are waiting to be placed in their designated folders. Cloud covers these basic needs so small businesses can dream new ideas.

If someone has a new idea, everyone in the company can be brought onboard almost immediately and can comment on the idea. This document can be discarded or saved and improved for further detailing, and a new product or service is formed.

Easy maintenance:

All the cloud computing solutions are easily automated. The owner of a business doesn’t have to worry about maintaining and storing data, it is outsourced to the cloud solutions provider.

These companies hire the best people to do the job, so they never take your business lightly. Small business owners can now pay more attention to critical tasks, instead of worrying about maintenance.

There is simply no need for an in-house IT department, because all IT needs are being met. Some internet providers also offer cloud services, so both needs can be met by the same company. For example, Verizon offers both internet and cloud solutions to its customers.

Last word:

“Leveraging the cloud is just more efficient from a cost management standpoint. It’s predictable, and we can implement services without making new capital investments or putting together complex implementation and deployment plans,” Hodo at Cision

Big, medium and small businesses all enjoy the perks of subscribing to the cloud. Sharing on-the-go, using updated services, securing data and creating new ideas is easy as a breeze with this technology. Employee efficiency is increased and the workplace looks so much better without a lot of clutter.

Cyberbullying Rarely Occurs in Isolation, Research Finds

Cyberbullying is mostly an extension of playground bullying – and doesn’t create large numbers of new victims – according to research from the University of Warwick.

Professor Dieter Wolke in the Department of Psychology finds that although cyberbullying is prevalent and harmful, it is a modern tool used to harm victims already bullied by traditional, face-to-face means.

In a study of almost 3000 pupils aged 11–16 from UK secondary schools, twenty-nine percent reported being bullied, but one percent of adolescents were victims of cyberbullying alone.

  • Cyberbullying doesn’t create large numbers of new victims, says University of Warwick researchers
  • Most bullying is face-to-face – with cyberbullying used as a modern tool to supplement traditional forms
  • 29% of UK teenagers reported being bullied – only 1% were victims of cyberbullying alone
  • Bullying intervention strategies should focus on traditional bullying as well as cyberbullying
Professor Dieter Wolke

During the survey, pupils completed the Bullying and Friendship Interview, which has been used in numerous studies to assess bullying and victimization.

They were asked about direct victimisation (e.g., “been hit/beaten up” or “called bad/nasty names”); relationalvictimization (e.g., “had nasty lies/rumours spread about you”); and cyber-victimization (e.g., “had rumours spread about you online”, “had embarrassing pictures posted online without permission”, or “got threatening or aggressive emails, instant messages, text messages or tweets”).

All the teenagers who reported being bullied in any form had lower self-esteem, and more behavioural difficulties than non-victims.

However, those who were bullied by multiple means – direct victimisation, relational victimisation and cyber-victimisation combined – demonstrated the lowest self-esteem and the most emotional and behavioural problems.

The study finds that cyberbullying is “another tool in the toolbox” for traditional bullying, but doesn’t create many unique online victims.

As a result, Professor Wolke argues that public health strategies to prevent bullying overall should still mainly focus on combatting traditional, face-to-face bullying – as that is the root cause of the vast majority of cyberbullying.

Wolke says, “Bullying is a way to gain power and peer acceptance, being the ‘cool’ kid in class. Thus, cyber bullying is another tool that is directed towards peers that the bully knows, and bullies, at school.

“Any bullying prevention and intervention still needs to be primarily directed at combatting traditional bullying while considering cyberbullying as an extension that reaches victims outside the school gate and 24/7.”

For more information, the research can be viewed in the European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry journal.

Five Apps to Help Sort Out Your Life

While only you can sort your life out, it is true that little things like your app can make the whole process so much easier for you and enable you to bring about some organization in your life. There is an app for everything now a days – from making you a schedule to prompting you to get on or off one, the push to change your life for good is in your hands.

Wondering what all apps can there be that hold the much wished for support? Here’s a list for you:

1. Shoeboxed

This app is for everyone who wonders where all the money went every month’s end. It lets you keep track of your spending by taking image of the purchase receipts. Shoeboxed gives the opportunity to see where you are spending the most every month, thus helping you curb those expenses.

From the simple personal usage, you can use Shoeboxed to manage your business cards, track mileage, make expense reports, and prepare taxes. The fact that the app makes it so easy to track receipts has made it a prime choice for companies all across the globe.

2. Evernote

This is your one stop solution for all haphazard notes issue. Evernote lets you keep all your to-do lists and ideas to class or office notes in one place and then allows you to view and edit them across a series of devices.

Evernote is not merely a note-taker, it can be the to-do list manager, note-taker, read-later app, reminder, cloud storage service, and you can even use it to scan business card, edit and capture photos, or any document you want.

3. Vent

If there is one thing that scan keep you from bringing you’re a game forward, it’s the pent up feelings. How many times have you found yourself disoriented and confused because you didn’t had anyone to talk to? Vent app helps you talk about your feelings with someone who is willing to hear you out.

The app reads “Voice your opinion to our supportive community without the worry of being insulted or disrespected, de-friended or upsetting people you know” and stands by it through the anonymous feature it offers.

4. LastPass

The one thing that takes most of our time, every day, is trying to remember passwords for the plethora of platforms we are always active on. It either takes a pen and paper or a herculean memory size to store all passwords in. With both being unreliable, LastPass gives you a secure space to store all your email ids and passwords in one place. It saves your passwords even in different browsers.

LastPass is much more than a password storage app, it lets you maintain digital record and online shopping profiles, on the go.

5. Namerick

One of the easiest way to make people like you is by remembering their names. While it sounds easy in saying, it can be much difficult to apply in practice. We meet so many people every single day and with such new faces coming in and out of your life, it can become extremely difficult to keep track of their names, especially when you need their service. Namerick helps you here by associating names to sounds or places or things thus making it easier for you to remember them on time. And the best part is, it lets you store information of when and where you met them and even why you would need them in future!

While the ultimate power to change your life remains in your hand, these five apps can make the transition a little easy for you. You will find a number of other productivity apps in the market that promises just the same. Which one do you use?

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