Dogs in Germany are the Top Victims of Smartphones

Cologne, Germany — The German Federal Intelligence Service has revealed that the German citizen checks his smartphone 90 times a day, and the number reaches up to 200 times among smartphone addicts. Generally, those who spend all their time using their smartphones would not pay much attention to their kid, dog, or cat.

A daily walk in nature is very important for dogs, but today, dogs’ owners prefer to “turn off” their pets on turning off their smartphones to take care of their pet, according to Ariana Ulrich, a dog behavior expert, from the Kennel Association.

About 9 million dogs are reported to live in German homes. Ariana pointed out that, on daily basis, she monitors smartphone owners’ lack of interest to play with dogs in public gardens. The daily walk with dogs lacks today from interaction.

Brigitte Bottner from the Animal Welfare Society said the distraction caused by the smartphone doesn’t just threaten pedestrians and drivers but also threatens dogs.

She added that dogs immediately notice when their owner is absent, so they would seek to entertain themselves with other dogs and children.

A dog’s mood could also change gradually, so it would become confused, tense and possibly a dangerous animal.

Thomas Rebe, a veterinarian specialized in dog psychology, said dogs learn and rejoice when they get a longer walk, and preoccupation with smartphones makes them mentally ill.

He said he receives many people at his clinic, especially young people, who complain about their dogs’ behaviors and disobedience. He pointed out that this change in the pet’s behavior is driven by the preoccupation with modern devices.

Asharq Al-Awsat Tests New ‘Nokia 8’ before its Release in Arab Market


Jeddah – After an absence from the smartphone market, Nokia unveiled its new Nokia 8 that includes a unique feature that allows users to capture photos and videos by using the front and back camera simultaneously.

Dubbing it the “bothie”, the Finnish HMD company is seeking to take the “selfie” to the next level.

Asharq Al-Awsat got its hands on the new Nokia model before its release in the Arab market.


In order to take a “bothie”, the user can take photos of what is taking place around him, while also capturing his own reaction. This feature can be activated with one touch and can also be used to record videos. For Facebook and YouTube streams, the user would be able to record his own video, while filming the reaction of the viewers.

While Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola had beaten Nokia to taking photos using the front and back cameras, the Nokia 8 is the first smartphone to offer this feature over social media. Using Zeiss optics, the phone boasts dual 13 megapixel back cameras and one 18 megapixel front camera and is able to record videos at [email protected]

Advanced features

The Nokia 8 relies on OZO audio that features three microphones and a surround-sound algorithm that allows it to record sound from all sides at high quality. This was demonstrated during a test conducted by Asharq Al-Awsat by using headphones and without them. The technology proved its effectiveness at loud events and could be useful to record vacation memories with family and friends.

The phone also boasts a unique cooling system to prevent overheating during heavy use. It relies on the Quick Charging 3.0 technology that can charge up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes.

Operating on the Android 7.1 (nougat), the Nokia 8 will appeal to photography lovers and HMD is preparing to introduce the Android 8.0 Oreo operating system to its phones before the end of the year. The update will include the Nokia 3, 5, 6 and 8.

Technical features

Featuring an aluminum body, the Nokia 8 is the first android smartphone to use the Carl Zeiss lens in all of its cameras. Its 5.3 inch screen can display images at 1440×2560 pixels at 554 pixels per inch. It operates on the Snapdragon 835 and enjoys 4 GB RAM and an internal memory of 64 GB that can be expanded to 256 by adding an external memory card.

The Nokia 8 will be available in the Arab market on September 24. It comes in four colors: Tempered Blue, Polished Blue, Steel and Polished Copper. It will sell for 1,699 Saudi riyals (around USD 453)

Children Listen to Smartphones more than Parents

Cologne (Germany)- A survey conducted by the Ipsos Research Institute showed that the majority of Germans asserted that electronic devices would have more influence on children than on parents in the future.

Most importantly, children themselves admitted that smartphones will be more important than parents in the future.

According to the survey, 58 percent of Germans believe that future children will listen more to electronic devices than parents; and 55 percent said that schools, teachers, politicians and priests would lose their status in the eyes of the children compared to the impact of the mobile phone.

In the same survey, 60 percent of young people aged 14-24 said they expect the influence of mobile phones on children to outweigh the influence of parents. Only 41 percent said the impact of teachers and schools would be weakened by mobile phone influence.

However, a researcher urged people not to be afraid of the survey’s results, pointing out that parents, family, and friends will always remain the most effective environment for the child. He said that parents, brothers, sisters and friends are always available for him, which is a very important advantage.

He added that losing their status in front of the new generation is not something new for the youth’s circles and schools.

In response to a question about the impact of technology on children in 1997, only 33 percent of Germans believed that electronic devices would outweigh the family’s influence on children.

The German press described the results of the survey as shocking, and reminded of another alarming study of the Pikk-Media project, which included several thousand German schoolchildren from both genders, published a year ago.

This study showed that 60 percent of children failed to resist the temptation to use their devices for more than 30 minutes. Doctors called for more scientific studies on this phenomenon, and criticized weak government support for such studies.

How Tech Can Ease Your Summer Travel

New York- The relaxation you crave from summer vacation can quickly deteriorate into anxiety when things go awry, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar place.

At the airport, rummaging through your luggage for your boarding pass is no fun. On a road trip, how annoying is it to miss an exit because you had a hard time following a map on your smartphone screen? Even before you leave, there’s stress in trying to book a flight for the right price.

Fret not, summer traveler. Here are some tech tools to help simplify your trip, based on my tests and some picks from The Wirecutter, the product recommendations site owned by The New York Times.

Managing your trip itinerary

When you’re rushing to catch a flight, digging around for your itinerary or boarding pass is a major time waster. Paper printouts are easy to lose, and emailed itineraries can easily be swallowed by your inbox.

What’s the best solution? In my tests, the free mobile apps TripIt and Google Trips were both great trip organizers. They scan your inbox for itineraries, hotel bookings and car rental reservations, then stitch all that information into a neat itinerary.

Between the two apps, I preferred TripIt because it was less cluttered and showed my trip information in a timeline that is easy to read; Google’s app is crammed with extra features like coupons and recommendations for things to do.

A major caveat for both apps: They regularly scan your inbox to find travel-related emails. So if you are paranoid about privacy, create a separate email account just for travel documents and forward all your itineraries and booking confirmations to that address.

Traveling abroad with a smartphone

When traveling overseas, the idea of a digital detox sounds romantic, but a smartphone is handy for retrieving maps or finding places to eat nearby. There are several options for taking your mobile phone abroad.

The cheapest way is to unlock the phone and use a foreign SIM card, which I detailed in a previous guide. The downside is that this can require more research because rates for international carriers vary widely, and if you travel to multiple countries, you may have to juggle several SIM cards.

Less confusing options include T-Mobile’s free international roaming, included with that carrier’s cellular plans, or signing up for Project Fi, Google’s wireless plan that costs at least $30 a month to use in more than 135 countries. The caveat for T-Mobile is that the free international data service may be slow, and the downside of Project Fi is that it works only with a small set of Android phones like the Google Pixel.

For Verizon and AT&T users, a simple but pricey option is to sign up for an international data pass, which costs $10 a day on top of the rates for their normal plans. For example, if you have an individual plan that costs about $100 a month and you want to use your smartphone for a 14-day trip to France, you would pay an extra $140, bringing your bill to $240 that month.

Battery life is crucial while you are out with your smartphone for many hours. To give your device extra juice, carry an external battery pack like the Anker PowerCore 20100, which has enough power to charge a smartphone a day for about a week.

A smoother road trip

When on the road, your top priority should be driving safely, your second priority should be finding the most efficient route to your destination, and your third priority is probably keeping yourself from going crazy by listening to your favorite songs and podcasts.

On long drives, I have found an inexpensive car mount to be the most important tool. The$11 TechMatte MagGrip, which attaches to your car’s CD player slot, is a great choice. It holds your phone with a magnet, and its placement on the CD player slot keeps the smartphone from obstructing your windshield.

For music, you could pack a standard audio jack that connects a smartphone with your stereo system. Or you could use a Bluetooth kit like the Anker SoundSync Drive ($20), which plugs into your stereo and includes a receiver that pulls audio wirelessly from your smartphone.

Finally, your phone will need constant power to provide maps. You could use one of the aforementioned battery packs, but a better option is a USB charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter, like the Anker PowerDrive 2.

Booking the right flight and hotel

A vacation can easily be ruined by a subpar hotel or the feeling that you overpaid for a flight. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix: Booking the best flight and hotel requires a number of tools and some research, and there are many travel-deal apps on the market catering to people’s special preferences.

For flights, the app Hopper is useful for tracking fares. You set your travel dates and destinations, along with some criteria like the number of flight stops. From there, the app uses big data to predict when the airfare drops to its lowest price, and it will send an alert when it’s time to book a flight. I used this app to get a great deal for tickets to Japan in October.

Booking the right hotel is trickier because people have different preferences and reviews are so subjective. I recommend using a combination of TripAdvisor and Yelp for reading customer reviews, and Kayak and Priceline for finding the best prices. If you are feeling spontaneous, you could use the app Hotel Tonight to look for a same-day booking at a reasonable price.

Keeping track of your luggage

Everyone has heard horror stories about luggage misplaced by an airline — and one day that bag could be yours.

There are companies that sell expensive luggage with built-in tech for locating it, but I prefer a cheap solution. Just slip a Bluetooth tracker like a $25 Tile into your luggage.

If you’re having trouble finding your suitcase at the baggage carousel, use the app to get the Tile to ring. Or if the luggage has vanished, you can tap the “Notify me when found” button in the Tile app, and if any Tile customer comes near your Tile, you will be alerted with its approximate location on a map.

The New York Times

Google’s New Parental Control App Has Flaws

New York- The only consensus among parents about the right age for a child to have unfettered access to a smartphone is that there is no magic number.

But if you sign up for Family Link, which is Google’s new parental controls software for managing children’s Android phones, Google decides for you. At the age of 13, a child can choose to “graduate,” as Google calls it, or lift restrictions, getting the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad things that come with it.

That’s too bad, because at first glance, Family Link has all the hallmarks of a winner. It is free, well designed and packed with thoughtful features for regulating a child’s smartphone use, like the ability to monitor how often a game is played or even to lock down a device during bedtime.

Yet nearly all of those benefits are undermined by Google’s decision to let children remove the restrictions the instant they become teenagers.

“The fact that the kid can graduate themselves is just preposterous,” said Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety speaker who gives presentations to parents, schools and law enforcement officials. “It takes the power out of the parents’ hands, which is a big no-no.”

Google made Family Link available for public testing in March, though the software is still in development and available for use on an invitation-only basis. Before it goes wide, I tested the parental controls for a week and assessed the features and policies with child safety experts.

The takeaway: If you are contemplating the purchase of an Android phone for your child but want to restrict access, there are better parental apps out there that give you more control. Or you could buy your child an iPhone, which has restrictions that can’t easily be removed.

An Overview

Family Link has lots of perks that may be a boon for parents. To set it up, request an invitation to the program on Google’s webpage and wait for an email with a link to install the software. The app is available for both iPhones and Android devices.

Inside the app, you can create Google accounts for your children, sharing information like their names and birth dates. Then when your child logs in to an Android phone, the device immediately requires you, the parent, to log in and install the Family Link app onto the device so it can be monitored.

From there, Family Link is a breeze to use. On the parent’s phone, tapping on the child’s account profile brings up a list of options. You can follow a child’s location, which can be useful for safety purposes or for picking the child up from school. You can also approve or reject apps that a child is trying to download — so if you’re reluctant about Snapchat or an addictive game like Boom Beach, simply block the apps. Parents can also get a weekly report to see how often a child is using a certain app, like a game, and choose to have a conversation with the child about using the software responsibly, or block the app temporarily.

Parents can also use Family Link to create restrictions for how children browse the web. You can turn on a filter that blocks mature websites, though Google acknowledges the filter is imperfect and some offensive sites may get past it. For a more nitpicky approach, you can also require the child to get permission for each site visited, blocking the ones you disapprove of.

Parents will probably love a feature called screen time, which can be used to set limits for how long a child can use a phone each day. For instance, you could give the child three hours of screen time on weekdays. You can also schedule regular bedtime hours that lock down the device at specific times — between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., for example. Before the device is about to be locked, the child gets a notification; when the screen locks down, the child will still be able to answer phone calls to talk to the parent or tap on an Emergency button to call the police.

Caroline Knorr, the parenting editor of Common Sense Media, which evaluates content and products for families, applauded the screen time feature, noting the difficulty of getting children to put down their phones. But she said sticking with time limits and schedules would be complicated. A child may not be done using a device to work on a science report by the time the screen locks down at 9 p.m., at which point the parent would have to manually unlock the device, she said.

“It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing where parents think, ‘Oh, great, this is going to solve all my problems,’” she said. “We’re all still learning this technology, and life is very unpredictable.”

Why 13?

All these neat parental controls start to come undone the day the child turns 13. At that point, Google gives the child the option to be free of the Family Link restrictions or stick with them — and I can’t imagine any child choosing the latter.

Saurabh Sharma, Google’s product manager for Family Link, said the policy was designed this way because 13 is when people can register for Google accounts without parental consent. That complies with a federal regulation in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which forbids companies from collecting data from children under 13 without a parent’s approval.

Yet I would argue that Google should design a policy with parents’ best interests in mind. It could let the parent decide when the child has demonstrated safe, responsible smartphone use and graduate from all restrictions. That might happen when the child turns 13, 15 or even 17. But the children should not be allowed to strip away settings just because they turn 13.

“It’s hard for me to understand why a parent would give a kid a phone and then turn off all the features through the app and then grant them all the features once they turn 13,” said Ms. Knorr of Common Sense Media. She said the age of 13 was related purely to the federal regulation, not safety or childhood development guidelines.

By comparison, Apple’s iPhone includes restrictions like limiting adult content on websites, turning off in-app purchases and preventing a child from burning through your cellular plans. The restrictions can be changed or removed only with the correct passcode set by the parent — it doesn’t matter how old the child is.

Google’s Mr. Sharma said Family Link was still in testing and the company was continuing to collect feedback from parents on issues including the age policy.

“This is a tricky subject,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out what works for every family.”

Bottom Line

If you agree that your child should get unrestricted access to a smartphone at the age of 13, Family Link is an excellent product. But how can parents ever predict that?

Ms. Weinberger, the internet safety expert, said she had heard stories from parents and children about a 9-year-old addicted to pornography, a fourth grader being “sextorted” by a 13-year-old, and child predators stalking minors through social networking apps. In other words, any child is subject to danger, no matter how old.

For Android users, Ms. Weinberger highlighted a parental control product called Qustodio, which lets parents monitor their children’s text messages, disable apps at certain times of day or even shut off a smartphone remotely — restrictions that don’t vanish the day a child becomes a teenager.

She called Family Link “depressing” because of the age policy.

“We want our kids to have some access and we want to be able to decide,” she said. “We need for Google in particular to be the leader on this.”

The New York Times

Honolulu Bans Pedestrians from Looking at Smartphones while Crossing Streets


London- In an unprecedented procedure in the United States, the city of Honolulu has decided to ban pedestrians from looking at mobile phones or texting while crossing the street.

The ban decision, which will take effect in Hawaii’s largest city in late October aims at reducing injuries and deaths from “distracted walking.”

First offenders caught gazing at devices, including laptops and digital cameras, face $15-$35 fines. Urgent calls to the emergency services are exempt from the ban.

The bill, also known as the Distracted Walking Law, was signed off by the mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell, on Thursday, after the city council approved the measure by a vote of 7-2.

The new legislation, which will come into effect on 25 October, states that “no pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device”.

Repeat offenders face fines of up to $99.

The new law has met opposition from some members of the public, who accuse the government of over-regulation.

Distracted walking incidents involving mobile phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries in the US between 2000 and 2011, according to the US National Safety Council.

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Share Your Location Using a Smartphone

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Share Your Location Using a Smartphone

SAN FRANCISCO — Last week after my motorcycle malfunctioned and crashed on the freeway, I wanted only two simple things from technology: to call 911 and to tell loved ones where I could be found.

Coincidentally, I had been testing location-sharing tools from Apple, Google, Facebook and Snapchat. So before calling the police, I texted my partner, who was already tracking my location with several apps, letting her know I was hurt. When she opened Google Maps, she could see precisely where I was on the 101 South freeway.

But when she refreshed the map to follow the ambulance, she ran into the app’s shortcomings: Google showed I was at Costco (not where I wanted to be, injured or not) when I was actually strapped onto a stretcher heading toward San Francisco General Hospital.

Such is the state of location sharing on smartphones.

For years, tech companies have offered different ways for people to tell one another where they are. Yet all the popular location-sharing tools are limited or flawed, and in some cases broadcasting your location may not be worth the effort or worth draining your phone’s battery life. Even worse, location tracking raises numerous privacy concerns about who can snoop into your whereabouts.

Yet security experts agree that on smartphones, it is now practically impossible to stop location tracking. There is a multitude of ways for third parties to find out where we are, including cell towers, the metadata transmitted from telecommunications, and data logged on our phones.

So we might as well embrace location sharing and reap the benefits.

“For the vast majority of people and the vast majority of circumstances, the benefits they get from sharing their whereabouts way exceed the risks that might be out there,” said Jeremiah Grossman, the head of security strategy for SentinelOne, a computer security company.

Here are some tips for the best- and worst-use cases for sharing your location using a range of old and brand-new location-sharing tools.

A Comparison of Tools

First, a primer on how different location-sharing products work.

Apple and Facebook offer location-sharing tools to drop a pin on a map to share your current location, or to let others follow your location in real time as you move around. Google recently added real-time location tracking in Google Maps. And Snapchat last month released an interactive map letting people share their location with friends indefinitely.

Apple’s location-sharing features are integrated into several apps: Apple Maps, Messages and Find My Friends. To share your location, open a text message, tap the information icon and tap Send My Current Location. To broadcast your location, tap Share My Location and choose to share a live update of your location for an hour, until the end of the day or indefinitely. From there, your friend could follow your location on a map through the Apple Maps or Find My Friends apps.

Google’s location-sharing tool is built into Google Maps. On the map, just tap the blue dot that indicates where you are and tap Share your location. From there, you can choose to share your location for a set duration, like one hour, or until you turn the feature off.

Facebook’s location sharing is embedded into its Messenger app. In a message, tap the + button, select Location and drop a pin to share your current location or broadcast your live location for up to an hour.

Finally, on Snapchat, with the camera open you can pinch the screen to open a map. From there, you can share your location with all your friends or specific friends. Your location is represented on the map as a cartoon figure called a Bitmoji. This isn’t useful for real-time location sharing because your location on the map updates only when you open the Snapchat app. To turn off location sharing, select Ghost Mode.

Be aware that even if you haven’t turned on location sharing in Snapchat, some people may be able to get a hint of your whereabouts if you use Our Stories, a feature for publishing public images or videos.

The new Snapchat map has raised privacy concerns among some parents and law enforcement officials, who said it was too easy for Snapchat users to add random people as friends, which could potentially let predators track a child’s location. A Snapchat spokeswoman said it was not possible to share your location with people who are not your friends on Snapchat.

In my tests, Apple’s Find My Friends and Facebook Messenger were quicker and more accurate with real-time location tracking than Google Maps, which had significant delays before refreshing with a current location. Google said its app reports someone’s location at intervals, from every few minutes to an hour, partly to save battery life.

The Best Times to Use Location Tracking

Location-tracking features have stirred controversy for the last decade. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit, said location-tracking technologies enabled law enforcement agencies to monitor people’s movements or advertisers to connect people’s online activities with their real identities.

In other words, used carelessly, location tracking may hurt your privacy. But used thoughtfully, it can be a powerful and efficient communication tool.

After testing location-sharing tools for two weeks, here are my suggestions for the best times to use them.

• When you make plans to meet friends somewhere like a movie theater, get in the habit of sharing your location through Apple’s iMessage, Google Maps or Facebook Messenger to broadcast your location for a short duration, like an hour. This way you can skip saying things like “I’m on my way” or “I’m running a few minutes behind” because people can simply follow you on the map.

• Consider using Apple’s Find My Friends, Facebook Messenger or Google Maps to share your location occasionally with your romantic partner. Location sharing can be useful for being considerate of your partner’s time and space. For example, I am less inclined to text my partner when I see she is at the office or driving on a freeway, but I am more inclined to text when I see she is at the grocery store to ask her to pick something up.

• Parents who have caved in to buying a smartphone for their child at a young age might consider using Find My Friends to track their child’s location for safety purposes. If you are paranoid about third parties constantly tracking your child’s location, rest assured that Apple’s privacy policy says location data is stored on servers in an encrypted format for only two hours before it is deleted.

• Next time you plan an event at a large outdoor space, like a picnic in a park, do your friends a favor: Use Apple Maps or Facebook Messenger to drop a pin on a map with your current location so they can find you. Wandering around aimlessly in a crowded open space can be annoying.

And When Not to Use It

Here were some situations where broadcasting your location may be undesirable.

• Don’t share your location when meeting in an indoor space like a specific store in a mall. Most mapping apps are not yet designed for indoor spaces and are thus inaccurate for location sharing.

• Likewise, don’t bother sharing your location on a nature hike. Most national parks, for example, are in remote areas with no cell connection, so turning on location sharing in this situation would waste battery life.

• Parents should make sure children are not sharing their locations with strangers or bullies. With iPhones, you can create restrictions that prohibit your child from changing settings or adding followers inside Find My Friends. For Android phones, sign up to use Google’s parental controls tool Family Link to manage your child’s location-sharing settings. Parental control settings can block apps like Snapchat from being installed altogether.

• For safety reasons, avoid sharing your location publicly. Google makes it easy to publish a web link where anyone can follow your live location. To fend off the creepers, send the link only to the intended recipients; avoid posting it on public sites like Twitter or Facebook.

• The bottom line: Know your limits. “Use common sense,” Mr. Grossman said. “If you’re trying to hide from people, don’t publish your whereabouts.”

(The New York Times)

Electric Glove Translates Sign Language into Text Messages


San Francisco, London- US Researchers from the University of California have developed new electric glove that transforms sign language into written texts to appear on smartphones and laptops.

The device consists of a standard sports glove kitted out with nine flexible strain sensors that are placed over different knuckles. When a user bends their fingers or thumb, the sensors stretch, their electrical resistance goes up, and thus signs will be transformed into a written language through a special electronic app.

Motion sensors on the back of the glove work out whether the hand is still or in motion, a necessary step to differentiating similar letters. For example, both the signs for “i” and “j” involve extending just the little finger. But for “i” the hand remains still, whereas to signify “j” you rotate your hand.

All these signals are then sent via Bluetooth to an app on your phone, which will display what you want to say.

Quoting Timothy O’Connor who is working on the technology at the University of California, the New Scientist website reported that the flexible sensors mean that you hardly notice that you are wearing the glove.

That would be an improvement over earlier, similar technology, other translation gloves can have brittle parts and be an effort to use.

Jesal Vishnuram, the technology research manager at the charity Action on Hearing Loss said for thousands of people in the UK, sign language is their first language. Many have little or no written English. Technology like this will completely change their lives, she added.

Beyond translating sign language, O’Connor and his colleagues are also working on using the same techniques to control robots.

“One application in the pipe line is a 3D printed robot hand that we can control using the glove,” says O’Connor.

Being able to control a robotic hand this way could find a use in robotic surgery or for bomb-diffusing robots.

Celebrity Voices to Be Used in Smartphone Apps

A Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

San Francisco, London- A new technique allows the use of voices of celebrities in reading messages of a new app that serves in determining locations through satellites “GPS” on smartphones.

AI startup Oben is creating avatars of South Korean celebrities that’ll live in your phone, and it wants to rope Hollywood into the action too., specialized in technology topics reported that in the future, Daniel Radcliffe, Gal Gadot or whoever your favorite celebrity is could live inside your phone and other smart devices.

Artificial intelligence startup Oben has partnered with South Korean talent agency SM Entertainment to launch AI Stars. AI Stars will see avatars of celebrities created using AI technology for use in lifestyle applications.

The project will recreate a celebrity’s voice, image and character within an avatar that replicates its human counterpart. Expected to be introduced later this year, the avatars will be incorporated into smart devices, robots, chat-bots and self-driving vehicles.

Quoting Oben’s spokesperson, CNET said the company will begin a steady roll out of the technology so it becomes available to consumers by end of this year. Oben is indeed working to secure deals with other talent agencies globally to exploit celebrities’ voices and pictures in this new technique, according to the spokesperson.

Teen Smartphone Addiction Causes Emotional Disabilities


London – A new report issued in May by Common Sense Media found that 59 percent of parents see that their teen children are addicted to mobile devices. However, surprisingly, 50 percent of teens confirmed their addiction.

While parents feel uneasy about their kids constantly being tethered to a device, most are not sure what real harm tech addiction does to teens. It turns out that it has multiple ill effects.

Loss of Empathy

Empathy, the ability to understand and appreciate the feelings of other people, is a trait that is essential to the well being of society. Empathy is the reason people are kind to each other, donate to helpful causes, and avoid harming other people and their possessions. When empathy is diminished or absent, the opposite often occurs — and criminal behavior can spike.

Preteens who were deprived of screened devices for five days dramatically improved at reading people’s emotions (nonverbal skills) compared to children who continued using screens, according to a UCLA study. Reading someone else’s emotions correctly is a function of empathy.

Without empathy and human connection, young people can become cold and cruel to others. Then, when they encounter cold and cruel responses from other young people, the cycle perpetuates itself and grows.

“Lack of empathy seems to be a forerunner among cellphone users,” suggested Chantale Denis, a clinical social worker and sociologist.

“Whether users are addicted or not, cellphone use can perpetuate a lack of accountability, breed irresponsible behavior, feed malevolence, and retard the ability to effectively nurture social skills inherent in our civility to be kind, thoughtful, caring, loving and understanding,” she told TechNewsWorld.

Limited Career Success

Smartphones summon information and entertainment on demand. Thus, instant gratification becomes a constant expectation on and offline.

“Smartphones and computers socialize us into a pattern of communication that then carries over to our everyday non-tech communication lives,” observed Psychsoftpc CEO Tim Lynch, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology of computers and intelligent machines.

“We expect answers right away, become impatient, use shorter sentences, get right to the point instead of engaging in small talk, and can ignore feelings of others in expressing ourselves,” he told TechNewsWorld.

This lack of soft skills, which include people skills and critical-thinking skills, can interfere with getting a job and with getting promotions.

“Socializing and building authentic relationships in real life with others is a muscle,” said psychologist Wyatt Fisher.

“The more we use it, the better we get at it,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The reverse is also true. Therefore, as teens interact primarily with people through a screen, they often lose the skills needed to connect in person.”

Emotional Disabilities

Smartphones offer young people more access to the world, but they also give more of the world access to young people. Without buffers and filters, teens and preteens can be influenced in all the worse ways.

Researchers reported a strong association between heavy Internet use and depression in a National Institute of Mental Health study.

They also observed a link between heavy Facebook use and depressive symptoms, including low self-esteem.

It’s not just the constant barrage of posts, texts, and messaging from peers and bullies on smartphones that can have a negative effect on the mental health of young people.

“Social media is now a space for advertisement and influencing the masses, and teenagers are the most susceptible and vulnerable to these marketing campaigns,” said clinical psychologist David Mitroff, founder of Piedmont Avenue Consulting,

Breaking Smartphone Addiction

Most experts advise parents to encourage their children to limit the time they spend online. “Put down the phone” has become the new “go play outside.” The key is to help kids find balance in their activities.

There are specific steps parents can take to achieve that balance, said Lynette Owens, global director of Internet Safety for Kids & Families.

Talk about it. Don’t just lay down rules — discuss smartphone use with kids and explain why they need to seek balance and do other things. “Help your child understand technology isn’t bad,” Owens said, “but ask them, ‘do you control it or does it control you?'”

Set boundaries. Be smart and practical about it. “Not all online time is equal,” Owens said. “Sometimes kids simply have to be online for schoolwork, and other times, it’s for fun. It’s the latter that needs some boundaries.” Consider forbidding devices at the dinner table and leaving them outside bedrooms after bedtime.

Set a good example. Put your own devices down. Model what you preach — it could be good for you. After all, many parents also are addicted and need to regain their life balance. Twenty-eight percent of teens think their parents are addicted to their mobile devices, and 69 percent of parents admit to checking their devices, at minimum, every hour, according to the aforementioned Common Sense Media poll.

Help them find balance. Offer alternatives or suggest other activities. Find some activities that they can do alone, some they can do with friends, and others they can do with parents. Again, the keyword is “balance.”

Technology is not going away. If anything, it will become more pervasive. The key is to ensure that tech remains a tool — a servant and not a master. By staying aware of your and your kids’ use patterns, you can keep tech tools in their rightful place.