Why using an app to track your sleep could make your insomnia worse

Excerpt from this article:

Achieving a precise measure of “good sleep” is becoming a new source of stress, say the doctors, and thus sleeplessness. Mr R is one of three case studies in the paper. “They were actually destroying their sleep by becoming so dependent on these devices,” one of the authors, Sabra Abbott, told Health magazine. The researchers coin a new term, “orthosomnia”, to describe a disorder caused by the quest to achieve perfect sleep.

Home Alone, With a Spy Cam

Excerpt from this article:

While parents of young children have long used nanny cams to keep tabs on the babysitters, companies are now marketing these products to parents of teens and preteens, too. This time, the camera lens is pointed not at the untrustworthy caregiver, but at the potentially rebellious adolescent.

“Parents use it to better understand when they come and go, what they’re doing, what time they go to sleep, when they have friends over,” Mr. Stohrer said.

“We are living in an age of fear,” she writes. Most of the dangers our children face — a changing climate, a vanishing middle class, spiraling health care costs — are beyond our control. And so our grip on the things we think we can control — like what our children do with their afternoons — grows tighter.

Activity Trackers Don’t Always Work the Way We Want Them To

Excerpt from this article:

Many parents probably hope that shiny new technologies, such as Fitbits and other physical-activity monitors, might inspire our children to become more active.

But a recent study published in The American Journal of Health Education finds that the gadgets frequently have counterproductive impacts on young people’s attitudes about exercise and the capabilities of their own bodies.

…The teenagers were asked to use the monitors for two months, and then complete more questionnaires and participate in focus-group discussions. During the focus groups, almost all the young people expressed initial enthusiasm for the monitors and said they had at first become more active.

But the allure soon faded. After about a month, most of the teenagers had begun to find the monitors chiding and irksome, making them feel lazy if they did not manage 10,000 steps each day. Many also said they now considered themselves more physically inept than they had at the study’s start, often because they were rarely near the top of the activity leader boards. Most telling, a large percentage of the adolescents reported feeling less motivated to be active now than before getting the monitor. (The researchers did not directly track changes in the young people’s activity levels, because the study focused on psychology.)

In China, Daydreaming Students Are Caught on Camera

Excerpt from this article:

In the halls of Yuzhou No. 1 High School in central China, students refer to them simply as “the cameras.”

When the first bell sounds before 7 a.m., their fish-eye lenses spring to life, broadcasting live as students sit at their desks and measure geometric angles, pass notes or doze during breaks. Before long, thousands of people — not just parents and teachers — are watching online, offering armchair commentary.

“What is this boy doing? He’s been looking around doing nothing, like a cat on a hot roof,” one user wrote. “This one is playing with his phone!” added another, posting a screenshot.

As internet speeds have improved, live-streaming has become a cultural phenomenon in China, transforming online entertainment and everyday rituals like dating and dining. Now the nation’s obsession with live video is invading its schools, and not everyone is happy about it.

Should You Spy on Your Kids?

Excerpt from this article:

Digital monitoring — from tracking those whom loved ones communicate with to snooping on their social media accounts to checking their locations — is becoming common even among people who view themselves as mindful of the boundaries with their children and partners.

Is there such a thing as responsible spying on loved ones?

The answer depends on whom you ask. Strong believers in privacy reject the premise of the question outright, while others believe it is possible if consent, trust and respect are involved.

“It comes down to power dynamics,” said Mary Madden, a researcher at Data & Society, a nonprofit research organization. “You can imagine a scenario where, in a family, it’s an unhealthy dynamic.”

…“The game changes when we’re talking about a 16-year-old who feels ‘stalked’ by their parents,” Dr. Boyd wrote in an email. “This is because the sharing of information isn’t a mutual sign of trust and respect but a process of surveillance.”

In her fieldwork with teenagers, she said, she was disturbed to find that the privacy norms established by parents influenced their children’s relationships with their peers. Teenagers share their passwords for social media and other accounts with boyfriends and girlfriends.

“They learned this from watching us and from the language we used when we explained why we demanded to have their passwords,” she said. “And this is all fine, albeit weird, in a healthy relationship. But devastating in an unhealthy one.”

Parents Monitoring Teenagers Online, and Mostly, Getting It Right

Image: KJ Dell’Antonia

Excerpt from this article:

“Children who felt like their parents were monitoring their activity online were noticeably less distressed by online conflict,” Dr. Underwood said. Particularly early in our children’s online lives, we should also monitor, but openly. When we help our children learn to socialize in this domain, we help them moderate their own behavior, and also help them put the world of the Internet into context as just one piece of a much greater whole.

Relatively few parents rely on technology to monitor technology. Just 39 percent of parents report using parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teenager’s online activities, while only 16 percent use parental controls to restrict their teenager’s use of his or her cellphone. That triumph of talk over tech may be in part because technology’s ability to help parents limit and monitor is still itself limited.

No matter how good the tools to monitor children and teenagers online get, talk will always remain more powerful. The goal, after all, isn’t to control our children and prevent their doing anything foolish or dangerous on the Internet, or even spending too much time there — but to raise adults who can control themselves.




For Refugees, a Digital Passage to Europe

Stranded migrants charge their phones on a field with electricity provided by a generator at the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Excerpt from this article:

While many of us might feel we cannot live without the Internet or our cell phones, for refugees access to digital technologies can be a matter of life or death.

Numerous media reports have highlighted how smartphones are essential and vital for refugees as they travel along perilous routes, contact lost family members, or find safe places before dark.

But focusing on one technology misses the bigger picture. Social media, mobile apps, online maps, instant messaging, translation websites, wire money transfers, cell phone charging stations, and Wi-Fi hotspots have created a new infrastructure for movement as critical as roads or railways.

Together, these technologies make up a digital passage that is accelerating the massive flow of people from places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to Greece, Germany, and Norway. The tools that underpin this passage provide many benefits, yet are also used to exploit refugees and raise questions about surveillance.

Governments and refugee agencies need to establish trust when collecting data from refugees. Technology companies should acknowledge their platforms are used by refugees and smugglers alike and create better user safety measures.

As governments and leaders coordinate a response to the crisis, appropriate safeguards around data and technology need to be put in place to ensure the digital passage is safe and secure.