Categories
Computers Gadgets Games Media Smartphones Technology

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology

Last month the Northwestern University in the USA published a national survey entitled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology. The report is available for free download through the Parenting CC Portal , but here I would like to take a quick look at some of the findings and questions raised and see if we can provoke some debate.

Multiple Screen Viewing
Multiple Screen Viewing

The study explores how parents are incorporating new digital technologies (iPads, smartphones) as well as older media platforms (TV, video games, and computers) into their family lives and parenting practices, and it gives an idea of how parents use and view this technology.

We should point out that this is a US based survey.

The 10 key finding could be seen as the following:

1 While new media technologies have become widespread, a majority of parents do not think they have made parenting any easier.

2 Parents use media and technology as a tool for managing daily life, but books, toys, and other activities are used more often.

3 Parents still turn to family and friends for parenting advice far more often than to new media sources like websites, blogs, and social networks.

4 Parents do not report having many family conflicts or concerns about their children’s media use.

5 There is still a big gap between higher- and lower- income families in terms of access to new mobile devices.

6 Parents are less likely to turn to media or technology as an educational tool for their children than to other activities.

7 Parents assess video games more negatively than television, computers, and mobile devices.

8 For each type of technology included in the survey, a majority of parents believe these devices have a negative impact on children’s physical activity, the most substantial negative outcome attributed to technology in this study.

9 Many parents report using media technology with their children, but this “joint media engagement” drops off markedly for children who are six or older.

10 Parents are creating vastly different types of media environments for their children to grow up in, and, not surprisingly, the choices they make are strongly related to their own media use.

Some other interesting points arise, such as that 40% of families are described as media heavy and spend more than 11 hours a day in front of the screen. Half of all families surveyed have 3 TV’s or more in the house. 40% of 6 to 8 year olds have a TV in their bedroom. 70% of parents state that having mobile devices has not made parenting easier with 40% stating that they have a negative social skills effect upon the children.

The conclusions are in some ways surprising though as the authors demonstrate evidence that parents are still more likely to resort to traditional means of entertainment as rewards and punishment, and they are convinced enough about the educational possibilities offered by so called new media to not worry too much about their negative effects.

An interesting read if you have half an hour, but comments and debate about the summary above would also be educational.

Categories
Gadgets How To Guides Technology

Looking after your gadgets

Gamers, office workers and tech fans who lead a busy lifestyle might not rate tidying up their technology as their highest priority. However, there comes a point where all the wires and cables become so intertwined that they become almost impossible to prise apart. This is where keeping all your tech in check could prove useful.

It doesn’t have to involve hour after hour of moving your devices around or untangling cables. With a combination of hi-tech and low-tech solutions, you can make your tech at home or in the office look a lot cleaner and easy to find, use and transport when you need to access it.

Cable management

Messy cablesFor gamers in particular, this is essential. The problem of cables becoming tangled is common for many console owners. The best thing to do to avoid this problem is to use a series of cable ties. They’re cheap, easy to use and help to keep numerous cables bound together behind the back of your TV screen.

At the same time, you’ll want to make sure that all your gadgets are well-ventilated. Keeping the holes in your computer, consoles, TV and other devices clear from obstructions like wires or cables will ensure that they’re less likely to overheat. This should extend their life and help keep them running fast.

All-in-one charging

Many of us own quite a few gadgets, many of which have mains chargers. In some cases, e-readers, smartphones and tablets can be powered up using the same charger, but to save space and energy when two or more of them need recharging, a multiple docking station could be helpful.

They’re relatively good, but they’re not too expensive, plus they can work well in the office as well as at home. If you own a range of Apple products, you’ll surely want one in order to reduce the stress of trying to find the right charger for each device. It could also become an important addition to any office desk, especially if you need access to all your gadgets at all times.

Smart labelling

Labelling your technology is a simple but effective idea, especially in the workplace. If, for example, you work in a large office, you’ll want to be able to find your computer/laptop straight away. Putting a label on it could save you time in trying to find it, especially if you feel like you’ve mislaid it somewhere after a meeting.

Asset labelling is useful too. It can be used to track your tech if it goes missing or gets stolen. As seareach.plc.uk point out, it’s useful for devices other than computers as well. It could be used to keep track of printers, scanners, tablet PCs, photocopiers, monitors or even items of furniture such as tables, chairs and sofas.

Categories
Computers News

Android Operating System Moving into Appliances

The Android operating system may be best known as an OS for mobile phones, but Google’s operating system is branching out and getting into your kitchen.

Google Android's LogoNever mind your smartphone or tablet; what about your fridge, or your oven?

Soon, Google Inc. is hoping to be controlling devices in your home from televisions to rice cookers.

There’s already Android-enabled TVs, with the Android mini 4.0 that turns your television into a smart-TV. You can get hold of these from places like Appliances Direct. Just with the dongle, you can connect to the internet via your Xbox or Wii U, or even hook it up with your tablet or smart-phone. It’s easy now to watch YouTube or browse the internet in the comfort of your own front room and thanks to Wi-Fi there’s no fiddling about with cables and wires.

The main hook with smart-TV is the apps available on your television, including the capabilities to make Skype calls on the big screen.

So what exactly is in store for your kitchen?

Appliances like fridge freezers could be operated by Google in the near future. Take Samsung’s T9000 refrigerator, which will be available to purchase shortly. It’s kitted out in full for the modern home, with a 10 inch Wi-Fi touchscreen and the option to download such kitchen-friendly apps as recipe-maker Epicurous or note-taking Evernote.

And what about a rice cooker? Able to determine the type of rice and exactly what cooking instructions to follow, gear like this will be able to keep track of your shopping habits, keep tabs on your favourite brands for research purposes and suggest new brands to try.

Soon you can have a kitchen full of appliances sending information to each other. With the Andriod OS in tow, products like LG’s ThinQ refrigerator can connect to the LG SmartOven, telling it when to start preheating and to what level depending on your choice of dinner that evening.

Most smart appliances are set to run by your instructions via text, too. Put your dinner in the oven when you set off for work and a quick text on your way home turns the oven on so you’re greeted with a cooked meal when you walk through the door.

With microwaves, washing machines, ovens, fridges and even coffee machines and getting smarter, how long will it be before your home is full intelligent stuff? The kitchen of the future is apparently closer than you’d think.

Categories
Blogging

Quality vs quantity – the blogging dilemma

When I write, I want to write quality articles; articles which interest, amaze and inspire. Mediocre content annoy me. If ever I write something which I consider of low quality, I never publish it – I will either review it or scrap it.

A Wordle of blogging wordsI want to make a difference in the world, be it a small or big difference (I would prefer big) I have to start on a personal scale. If I can improve your life by changing the way you think and feel (for the better), and enriching your knowledge and understanding, then I am doing my job.

I love reading Jonny’s posts every week, they always interest me and many have inspired me to make (usually small) changes in my life and have often caused me to write something myself. Jonny posts once a week, on a Thursday – with the odd exception. Would he be able to post such great content if he posted twice a week? What about three times? I don’t know.

I am not meaning to pick on Jonny, once a week is just great and very appreciated. One day Jonny will stop writing as often, and one day he will stop writing all together. I hope that day is a long way off, and by that time I have no doubt that we will have other writers writing the quality and quantity of content that he writes.

The same goes for me. I get a lot from blogging at the moment, I love the researching and crafting process that goes into making an article, and I also love the responses. But one day I shall probably stop too.

Think about your favourite TV show, how often does it air? Usually (with exceptions) the best shows/series take months to produce and don’t launch every day/week of the year.

Blogging is the same. I want us to post 6 great articles a week. Jonny gives us one of those posts. I am usually able to provide another, and we often get the third from another writer – like Steve, Ron, Alan or another writer. Usually we only post 4 or 5 articles a week, and that’s fine. I would like to post 6, but would rather post 4 quality articles than 6 mediocre ones.

Blogs that post less often, usually don’t have such a great readership. It’s a fact. There are exceptions of course. What would a news site be, if it only published once a week?

If I was able to monetise Technology Bloggers so that I could run it as a business, then I could dedicate more time to it, as it would become a job, not just a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we do host the odd bit of sponsored content, to help pay the hosting bills, and fund competitions, but this site is never going to make millions. I am not sure I would still want to blog, if it was solely for money though, so I don’t want to monetise the site.

So, here is the dilemma I have: produce okay content, daily; or produce quality content, less often.

I want to post 6 articles a week, only 3 are provided, who plugs the gap? Usually me. If I don’t I feel bad, as I don’t feel I have fulfilled my duty to the site. If I post the extra posts needed, but they aren’t quite as good as content I have produced before, I am angry that I let the posts go live.

There is a very fine balance which needs to be struck, and I am not sure I am there just yet.

Would you prefer to read 5 star articles once a week, 4 star articles twice a week, or 2 star articles daily?

The reason I am writing this is because I feel we had a great 2012, I had a great 2012 as a blogger, especially in the last few weeks. That said, I know my diary for 2013 is already looking pretty full. Friends, family, education, work and recreation all take a lot of our time, and rightly so. However other commitments I have, do mean that I will have less time to write in 2013.

Rest assured, I am not throwing in the towel and am going to continue to do my best to keep us up and running at full capacity, but there is a lot to do.

If you want to help, I am more than happy to accept suggestions. I would love to promote more users to author status, and give everyone more control.

Categories
Internet

How to get the most from your fibre optic broadband

While fibre optic internet coverage continues to grow, internet prices are continuing to decrease, meaning it’s never been a better time to upgrade your internet. That being said, if you intend on shelling out on fibre optic, its best you consider how you can ensure you make the most of what you pay for.

Upgrade your wireless router

If your internet supplier has not already provided you with a new wireless router, you may find the need to upgrade to make the most of your new high speed internet. Older routers on the whole tend to be around 50% slower than newer models, meaning investment is paramount if you want to make the most of your fibre optic connection. There is a huge array of routers on the market, with many different features. It’s advised that you go for a dual band router if you have many devices on your network as it will ensure a better connection that is less prone to interference.

Use an Ethernet cable

If you’re after the highest internet and data transferral speeds, connecting via an Ethernet cable is by far your best option. Wireless data is transmitted at a snail pace when compared to a cabled connection, which now has speeds of up to one gigabit on some routers, so really cuts down on the benefit of fibre optic broadband. Though far from practical, having a wired connection will enable you to really make the most of your internet connection.

The end of an Ethernet cable
The end of a red Ethernet cable – the colour has no significance, red just makes for a more vibrant image!

If you own a desktop, setup your router nearby so you can always have a wired connection for your PC. If not consider hiding cables in the wall throughout your home so you can have high speed connectivity throughout your home. If done right, it can even make your home more attractive when it comes to selling it!

Set up a media server

Modern hard drives now have functions which enable them to be used and accessed over your network, meaning you don’t need it to be plugged directly into your computer for it to work. Not only is this highly practical, it also allows multiple users to access information at the same time, without the need of cables.

Splash out on modern technology

Many modern devices now have some form of use for wireless internet, so splashing out on the latest devices will mean you can really make the most of your fibre optic connection. Many consoles such as the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3 will allow users to stream content from the internet or computer onto the TV. With a high speed connection, you can have many devices operating at full pelt without feeling like your connection is being throttled.

Categories
Computers Gadgets

Sponsored: Samsung launches Samsung Memory campaign

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Samsung. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

Samsung has recently started an innovative new campaign, to raise awareness of ‘Samsung Memory’.

Their campaign includes three evil characters: Battery Brutus; Fiona Freeze; and Loading Ball Larry. These three characters are presented at the ultimate enemy to any techie! After all, who wants their device (be it a TV, smartphone, tablet etc.) to run out of juice, freeze or take forever to load?

Battery Brutus, Fiona Freeze and Loading Ball Larry - SamsungSamsung have been working really hard to improve user experience, which is why they have decided to launch the campaign, to let people know about it!

Taking an Environmental Approach

As time goes on, more and more firms appear to be altering the way they provide their products and services in order to make them more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately there are many firms which still refuse to take environmental factors into account, however Samsung is (I am sure proud to say) not one of them!

In their recent upgrades and updates, Samsung have gone that step further to ensure that your devices stay ‘alive’ longer, need fewer charges, and perform better for longer.

That means you should be able to keep Battery Brutus at bay for longer! Check out the video (Samsung ad) below to see him in action.

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The below image shows just how much power Samsung’s devices conserve. That saving means less charges, which means less power being used, which is ultimately better for the environment!

Power savings Samsung devices haveSamsung also take into account the environment in terms of the materials they use. Below is a quote directly from Samsung.

“Our products continuously evolve. We use the latest technology. The most advanced materials. The safest components for you, and for planet earth. Samsung Memory is only manufactured with the most environmentally responsible materials.”

Top Speed Processing

Samsung’s latest devices are fitted with the high-spec memory and processors, to ensure that you can multi-task with ease, without your device freezing or loading. This means that you can also keep Fiona Freeze and Loading Ball Larry at bay!

Here is the Samsung ad which features Fiona Freeze at work.

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The last of the characters in the Samsung campaign, Loading Ball Larry, demonstrates just how frustrating loading can sometimes be. Please don’t smash up your device though, next time it loads!

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To find out more about the campaign, the characters and the technology involved, please visit the Samsung Semiconductor webpage.

Categories
Gadgets Technology

Technology and the future of gaming

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how technology is going to impact the way we work in the future. Now I am going to let you into some treat that may be in-store for us, sooner than you might think, in the world of gaming.

More Family Integration

Critics believe that in the future, despite popular belief, gaming will not be more individual, each of us in separate rooms, but more communal, with entire families uniting, in order to play together.

This is mainly due to the rapid developments in home entertainment systems based on competition, and also movement. In 2006 we saw this trend start to develop with the launch of the Nintendo Wii. This immediately pulled people together to game, more so than ever before. Games like Wii Play, and Mario Kart have brought families (and friends) together to play across the world.

In 2010, Kinetic for the Xbox 360, adding further elements of full body participation to gaming. Later this year, Kinetic will be available for computers too. Also later this year, we are going to see the release of the Wii U, the next model of the Wii.

The Wii U
A preview at Nintendo’s new Wii: the Wii U

It is devices like the Kinetic and Wii that are making gaming more social, with even more exciting and innovative devices coming out soon, also aimed at bringing us together.

Mind Control

You read right, mind controlled games are much closer than you might think. Thanks to the developments of advanced brainwave sensors, it is now possible to control things using your mind. All you need is to wearing a simple headband and earpiece with the advanced sensors attached, as brainwaves can be captured and interpreted on your scalp.

In the near future, we could potentially have ditched the controller, and be doing battle with our minds. Games where the the more you concentrate, the better you do, are a leap forward that has been made, and will be released to the mass market very soon.

Mind control could work with all sorts of games, however currently the technology works best with simple ones, like a game of tug of war (the harder you think you pull, the harder you pull!) and archery – focus on the bullseye, and you are more likely to hit it.

Mind control can help to create a much more personal experience, when gaming. This technology can also be applied to movies. Multiple scenes can be shot, and depending upon your emotions and how you are reacting to events, you could see different things. Sound cool hu?

More Interactive Experiences

I have already talked about things like the Wii, and Kinetic, but other systems, like the the Trixter Xdream are going to revolutionise the way we play, and the way we keep fit. The Wii let us play golf and tennis in our living rooms, but it didn’t feel all that real, did it? The Xdream accurately simulates riding a bike outside, using a computer display and a modified exercise bike.

Trixter Xdream Exercise Bike
The Trixter Xdream exercise bike

This means that you can feel like you are going for an outdoor workout, on a real bike, but becoming totally immersed in the experience, in the comfort of your own home – you may need to open some windows to create the draft effect! The bike is currently on sale for around £6,000 GBP, however in the future more and more of these devices (which will get cheaper and cheaper) are going to make their way into gyms around the country, and also even our homes.

TVs are set to get smarter soon too, with firms like Samsung and Google revolutionising the way we use our televisions.

3D

3D has been around for a while now, decades in fact, however there has always been the need to wear glasses. In the very near future, we could see glassesless 3D TV’s in our homes, providing us with 3D entertainment with no goofy glasses.

This technology will be able to offer gamers total 3D immersion, making the experience feel even more real. Match that with motion technology and the gap between fiction and reality narrows even further.

To Conclude

There are so many other revolutionary technologies and products that are set to change the way we have fun in the future. I have written about just a few to wet your appetite for what is going to be appearing on the high street within the next few years.

By all means research this further, and if you find anything interesting, let me know!

Gaming is set to change, quite radically and quite soon. The question is are we ready for it?