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Monday, March 28, 2011


Touted as the app that allows us to indulge our inherent voyeuristic impulses, the iPhone app "Color" was released a short time ago and is already growing in popularity.  The more I learn about this app, the more it baffles me as to why anyone would use it, and the more it concerns me about kids getting their hands on it. Here's how it works:

Once the app is installed on my iPhone or iPad2, any pictures I take using that device are broadcast to everyone around me (within a 150 ft. radius).  Anyone else who has this app installed will receive my photos along with the photos of everyone else who is using the app.  I'm not choosing who get's the pictures (like Facebook) - everyone gets them.  It gets stupider... Not only does it share the pictures I take at that moment in time, it broadcasts all the pictures I have ever taken since the app has been installed (yes...those embarrassing pictures your friend took of you at the bar last weekend are now being broadcast to everyone you work with). broadcasts all the time.  So even if my phone is in my pocket and I'm not using it, it's still sending my photos to everyone within a 150 ft. they can save and/or share with others.

My first question is why?  As a society, we continue to march down this moronic path, sacrificing more and more of our privacy in the name of entertainment.  Those of you who are old enough to have read George Orwell's 1984 should be recognizing that most of the invasions of privacy that "Big Brother" did on behalf of a dictatorship government, we are now doing to ourselves in the name of entertainment.  It's bad enough that I get updates (via Facebook) whenever someone I barely knew in high school visits his dentist, now I get to see pictures of his root canal whether I want them or not.

Let's think about this app in the context of teenagers.  We all know kids do dumb things, and most certainly, if something dumb can be done with a camera on their cell phone, a kid is going to do it.  How many articles do you see in the news these days about sexting?  In the midwest there is a growing problem/trend involving kids taking pictures of each other in school gym locker rooms or bathrooms and sending them out to everyone as a prank.  They don't see the harm in taking a picture of your child in some state of nudity and sharing it with their friends.  Let's now put this new app in the hands of these kids.  Or what about the college kid who thinks it's so awesome to get drunk and take pictures?  You may have read my posting of my friend who's daughter got drunk and her friends stripped her down, wrote vulgar things on her with a marker, took pictures with their cell phones, and posted the pictures on Facebook.  What will happen when we put this app in their hands?

We have reached a point in our evolution where our own reputation is beyond our ability to protect.  It was hard enough to teach young people about the dangers of posting objectionable pictures or information about themselves - how that might prevent them from getting a job or might cause them to lose a job later in life.  Now anyone can take a picture of me at any time, instantly share it with everyone within a city block, post it on Facebook against my wishes and say whatever they want about me.  Am I the only one who see's how dangerous this is all becoming?  To make this all worse, this Color app is free from the iTunes store, which means it will likely spread like wildfire and soon be as prolific as Twitter.

My recommendation to parents of teens is to keep your eye out for this app.  If you see the icon above on your kids' phone's or 4th gen iPod touch, it's time to have a talk about privacy and the dangers of sexting.

I wonder what idiotic app someone will think of next.

BTW, you can read about this app on CNN.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Could it Be? Facebook Finally Doing the Right Thing?

It's still a dangerous place for kids and I still recommend kids under 16 not having Facebook pages BUT... After many years of ignoring the safety and wellbeing of children who use their service (as well as their own rules and regulations), Facebook seems to finally be moving in the responsible direction.

Facebook just announced a concerted effort to revoke the memberships of underage users.  A preliminary investigation revealed over 20,000 users who do not meet Facebook's minimum age requirements (I know, I know...then why do they have profiles?  Don't get me started) that will be removed soon (if not already).  You can read about the effort on CNN.

Don't get too excited...Facebook currently has no plans to identify children who lie about their age in order to create a profile (which is what most kids do).  But at least they're enforcing rules that until now have been completely impotent.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks to SAFY

Yesterday I presented to an impressive group of people.  The organization was Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY).  For over 27 years, SAFY has been caring for children who are victims of neglect and abuse in their own homes. Headquartered in Delphos, Ohio, SAFY now has offices in eight states, focusing on treatment, intervention, adoption and the placement of children whose intensive needs cannot be managed through traditional foster care.  Their mission is to provide a loving home for children in need. Today, SAFY is expanding into communities across the nation by providing programs and services that go beyond therapeutic foster care.  Here is a link to their website.

It was a great experience to interact with people who offer so much charity and compassion to children in need.  I am very appreciative for the opportunity to present to them.  I encourage everyone to check out their website and learn more about the good they do.

Per my promise to the conference attendees, here is the presentation from the session.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Facebook Targets Cyber-bullying

It's about time!  I hope this isn't a lame attempt on their part to quell the criticism regarding how unsafe Facebook is for kids, or to jump on the Obama bandwagon, with his recent statement about cyber-bullying.  As much as I have complained about Facebook in recent years, this is a good move on their part.

Amar Toor form does a good job explaining the new features:

Facebook Introduces New Tools to Combat Cyberbullying