What's The Real Price Of Technology?

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What's The Real Price Of Technology? | Social Media TodayI’ll never forget it.

The story that my friend told me about her daughter who came to her crying, disappointed after she’d found out that Santa Claus is not real. “She Googled it,” my friend said.

It’s inevitable, you might say, they’ll find out eventually. And that’s true, but how about other feelings that we – both children and adults – experience because of our introduction to the Internet a bit early, or because of our addiction to it? Anxiety, anger, depression…

We all, men, women, and children, spend huge amounts of time online every day. And if that’s not enough, according to a 2014 study by HR firm Randstad US, 42% of adults admit to checking their work emails while on holiday – a time that they should be spending disconnecting and relaxing.

Why is it so hard to switch off? Is it because it’s addictive? Is it because we don’t want to miss out on anything? Is it because we use social networks as a place to stroke our own egos?

Whatever the reason, there are repercussions to be aware of. Smartphone and computer use can cause a number of psychological issues:

There’s also the risk of a range of physical health issues such as:

Not to mention the sheer amount of time that could be spent doing something more productive or enjoyable. And the possible future regret and embarrassment of having shared those unflattering photos of yourself while drunk on holiday when, a few years later, you’re applying for jobs.

On our honeymoons and vacations, in an attempt to usurp the random posts of unflattering wedding shots or bragging about our trip to the beach, we spend hours of our precious time away from our spouses and children, choosing and posting our preferred photos into an online album.

There is a fashionable trend on the rise – to go “offline” altogether. Disconnect. Spend time with nature or in absolute quiet, thinking, creating, exercising.

Why is that?

Because we want our lives back. Because relationships need effort and time to make them work. Any relationship. Without exception. Those brought up on social networking can too easily become accustomed to the “disposable” attitudes of online dating and the modern consumer world, with potentially horrific implications for the future of families and partnerships, with terrible implications for the long-term health of our society. Implications to:

  • Creativity and imagination
  • Productivity
  • Innovation
  • Relationships
  • Mental and physical health of both adults and kids.

We need to take charge. We need to be present when our families are talking to us. We need to take time to go outside and explore with our children. We need to disconnect so that we could allow for our thoughts to flow freely and creatively, and so that we could come back to work with the renewed vigor and passion rather than indifference.

Let’s not allow our work consume us. To do that, we need to become more productive during our work hours, minimize the distractions. There are apps that can help us do just that, such as Anti-Social.

Let’s keep our children safe. Technology can be a source of great learning. But organizations like SafeSurf® andOnGuardOnline provide tools and information to help parents in their quest for their kids’ safety. But we ourselves need to be mindful about what information we post about our kids.

The FBI has a worrying list of the types of cyber-attacks on users of social networking sites, plus some helpful tips on how to not become a victim.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am a technology addict. I am a social media marketer, it kinda’ comes with territory. I am also a workaholic, because I love what I do. It’s a consistent struggle to find the right balance. But over the past 5 years, while juggling projects, networks, friends and communities, I noticed that I’d developed a slight ADD. I’d gained weight. My sleep patterns were off. I’d somewhat neglected my daughter.

So I started to make changes, such as:

  • Family dinner together every night with our child (even if one of us is traveling)
  • No tech or toys at the dinner table (if the phone rings during dinner, we don’t pick it up)
  • No work between the hours of 6-8pm when my daughter is back from school and before her bed time
  • Giving my family an undivided attention during our family time
  • On the weekends spend time outside without technology (yes, without even a cell phone)
  • Play more board games
  • No technology in your bedroom (no cell, laptop, TV, nothing), it vastly improves sleep patterns

And that’s just basics. I’m still working on the right amount of time I spend with and without technology. And today I invite all of you to take the pledge to be mindful. To go screenless every now and then. To reclaim your lives. To keep us all sane and our relationships thriving.

Because it’s worth it

Because, when it’s all said and done, none of us will ever say on our deathbeds: “I wish I spent more time with my beloved technology.”

This post originally appeared on Ekaterina Walter’s blog

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Snapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price)

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Snapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price) | Social Media Today​Snapchat is probably the most divisive social network going around at the moment. For regular users, it’s an amazing tool, serving both personal and business purposes for many. But a lot of people still don’t get what all the fuss is about – for many Snapchat still carries the baggage of being that crazy app that kids use to share naked photos of themselves, an initial perception that’s it’s moved away from but is still associated with, at least to some degree.

And it’s kind of both. Not so much a sexting app, but it’s brazen, with its bold colors and the ability to scribble on your photos and add filters. Snapchat’s focus is on fun, on providing a way to mess arounf and do what you like on social without the ongoing consequences of that content sticking around or being shared amongst your wider networks of family and friends. So you can embarrass yourself, you can be foolish, and you can do this knowing that the content will soon disappear and no one will be digging it up again in future and holding it against you. And while there are tools to capture Snapchat images and you can’t just snap with impunity, the platform facilitates humorous, engaging interactions which can be as restricted or open as each user chooses.

Virtual Mutation

Staying true to this path, Snapchat has today announced two significant updates. The first is the addition of ‘Lenses’. Lenses enables users to add animations and effects to their selfies, transforming themselves into everything from elderly citizens to horrifying monsters.

Snapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price) | Social Media TodaySnapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price) | Social Media TodayHorrifying.

Lenses is powered by Looksery, a face modification app that Snapchat acquired for around $ 150 million. Looksery was originally a video chat app that enabled people to alter their appearance on their videos, making themselves look like cats or a pandas, but it had problems establishing itself as a new platform in an increasingly competitive market. Merging with Snapchat enables them to utilize their technology on a wider scale, within an already established network.

The addition of Lenses is already generating buzz online, with many users (like the ones above) posting pictures of their new looks through the function. Also, if you see people doing this to their phones:

Snapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price) | Social Media TodayNow you’ll know why. It’s a great addition to the app and goes completely in-step with Snapchat’s style and audience appeal.

Buy a Snap

The more significant element of this update is the option to re-view your snaps. In some ways, this goes against the entire ethos of Snapchat – as noted above, while most people know there are ways to capture snaps to ensure they live on beyond the set time limit on each, the concept of disappearing content is still, at core, what Snapchat is about. Or maybe ‘was’ all about is more accurate. In recent times Snapchat has deviated from this path – the introduction of ‘tap to view’ back in July acknowledged that people can and will save snaps (the original idea was that people had to hold a finger on screen to view content, which stopped them from taking screenshots) while the ‘Replay’ function, which enables users to re-watch one snap per day, has been in place for some time. In this sense, adding the ability to re-watch snap content is not really a big change, but it is still a significant step.

Also, while you can re-watch snaps, the option does come with a catch – you’re gonna’ have to pay for it.

From the announcement:

“Today, U.S. Snapchatters can purchase extra Replays, starting at 3 for $ 0.99. You can use a Replay on any Snap you receive, but you can only Replay any Snap once. They’re a little pricey — but time is money!”

This is an interesting angle for monetization, though one that seems pretty low-risk – if you don’t want to use it, don’t, just continue on as you always have. The majority of Snapchat’s revenue, currently, comes from its Discover platform, which enables publishers to share content with Snapchat’s user base via an unintrusive, additional area in the app. Discover has been pretty well-received, with some publishers seeing more than 1 million unique viewers per day. But Snapchat’s valuation is high, with recent funding putting the app’s value at around $ 16 billion. A price tag like that comes with expectation, and Snapchat will no doubt be exploring various avenues to increase monetization options with a view to an IPO. If Replays prove popular, this could be a quick and easy win in this regard, whilst also enabling the company to capitalize on its key strength in user engagement.

It’s an interesting announcement from Snapchat – a fun addition and a commercial proposition, rolled into one (very short) blog post. Lenses will no doubt get the focus here, which is good for Snapchat as it takes attention away from the slow shift towards monetization, which could alter the user-experience over time. In taking the focus off this aspect, they avoid it becoming a bigger issue – had they just announced Replays by themselves there’d be all sorts of talk of the platform’s need to make money and the necessary changes such moves will entail. Instead, regular Snapchatters are focused on morphing their faces, snarling at their phones and, importantly, using the app. And no doubt some of those Lenses-modified images will justify a few re-views.

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