Tech-savvy kids still prefer personal communication by Jeremy Dickson

The new 2012 ChildWise Monitor survey takes a look at how children ages five to 16 years in the UK use technology and finds that despite unprecedented access to virtual worlds, children still prefer to communicate face to face.

It is the top communication channel for children talking about something serious (53%), for having a private conversation (43%, compared with 13% for phone and 11% for text), and for talking about last night’s TV (33%, compared with 21% for social networking sites, 16% for texting).

However, mobile phones are still increasingly important in the lives of this age group especially kids ages 11 and up.

Six out of 10 children ages seven to 16 have a mobile phone that can access the internet (61%), increasing to three in four among 11- to 16-year-olds (77%).

The survey’s results also support the popularity of eReaders especially among younger children and boys. Almost one in 10 five- to 16-year-olds now have an eReader (9%), highest among younger boys (14% of boys aged 5-10 years).

Reading every day is still a hard sell for children as only a minority of children read for pleasure every day (30% read books every day, 15% read magazines), but most read on occasion.

Seventy-eight percent of five- to 16-year-olds read books at all, and more than one in four read books or magazines for an hour a day or more (28%). Two thirds of nine- to 16-year-olds read online (69%) – reviews, stories, news, blogs and books.

For the survey, 2,770 children ages five to 16 years were interviewed via 108 schools across the UK during fall 2011. Full survey results can be found in the annual ChildWise Monitor Report 2011-12.

How many of your Facebook friends are robots? Tim Hwang on Socialbots

How many of your Facebook friends are robots? Maybe more than you think. New research from the University of British Columbia suggests that users of online social networks like Facebook are surprisingly susceptible to infiltration by socialbots — computer programs designed to pass themselves off as human beings.

This week on Spark, we’ll play Nora’s interview with Tim Hwang, a socialbot researcher and the organizer of a socialbot coding competition. They’ll discuss some of the techniques socialbots use to mimic us, and how we can tell the difference between bots and humans. You can hear the full, uncut interview by Nora Young with Tim Hwang on CBC Radio’s Spark, by clicking here.


Ref: CBC Radio’s Spark,


Stefana Broadbent: How the Internet enables intimacy

Facebook Friend Count Linked to Brain Region Size

The number of Facebook friends that people have may be related to the size of brain regions involved in social interaction, research suggests.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, scientists looked at brain scans of 125 university students in London who were all active Facebook users and counted the number of friends each had on the social network and in real life.
Some brain regions seem to link to the number of friends we have in both the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds.Some brain regions seem to link to the number of friends we have in both the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The researchers found a link between the number of friends on the social networking site and the amount of grey matter in certain brain regions that have previously been implicated in social perception.

“We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have — both ‘real’ and ‘virtual,'” study author Dr. Ryota Kanai of University College London said.

“The exciting question now is whether these structures change over time — this will help us answer the question of whether the internet is changing our brains.”

The investigators cautioned it isn’t possible to tell whether having more Facebook friends makes the regions of the brain larger or whether some people are “hard-wired” to have more friends.

“The relative contributions of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ therefore remain to be determined,” the study’s authors concluded.

In a series of experiments, the researchers found the volume of grey matter in the amygdala, a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses, was larger in people with a larger network of friends in the real world.

The size of three other regions were also tied with online social networks, but did not appear to be related with real-world networks:

* Right superior temporal sulcus, which plays a role in our ability to perceive a moving object as biological. Structural defects in this region have been identified in some children with autism.
* Left middle temporal gyrus, which has been shown to activate in response to the gaze of others and so is implicated in perception of social cues.
* Right entorhinal cortex, which has been linked to memory and navigation — including navigating through online social networks.

In the study, volunteers were asked questions such as how many people they would invite to a party to estimate the number of their friends in the real world.

“We cannot escape the ubiquity of the internet and its impact on our lives, yet we understand little of its impact on the brain, which we know is plastic and can change over time,” said Dr. John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, one of the funders of the study.

“This new study illustrates how well-designed investigations can help us begin to understand whether or not our brains are evolving as they adapt to the challenges posed by social media.”

The study was also funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the British Academy, the Danish National Research Foundation and the Danish Research Council for Culture and Communication, and the European Union MindBridge project.


How To Make Friends by Sheldon

Friendship Wordcloud

Friendship Wordcloud by Kaylyn

Survey Says: 13 Percent of Americans Fake Talking on Mobile Phone to Avoid Others, and More

A new study that says 13 percent of all mobile phone users fake talking or being busy on their phones to avoid having to interact with people around them isn’t such big news. I assumed the number was much higher.

But that’s what the numbers show, anyway. A report published this week by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 83 percent of American adults own some kind of cell or mobile phone and that more than one in ten fake using it so they don’t have to interact with others.

The survey was nationally representative, and conducted by telephone. And that might be part of the problem with the data, making too low. Stand at bus stops and or corners in most any metropolitan city, however, and one quickly sees that more than 50 percent of the people are fidgeting with a mobile communications device.

Certainly, some are having conversations or listening to music, but I’ve long surmised many are just feigning activity, in order to look busy so they can avoid having to interact with others. The phone fake as more than eight of of 10 adults has become as commonplace in everyday life now as the head fake is employed in basketball.

Other findings in the Pew study were similarly interesting, but not so revealing since now we are quite accustomed to the myriad of ways mobile and smartphones interact with if not dominate our lives.

The findings include:

–The study found that cell or mobile phones are used at least once by 51 percent of all adults to get information they need right away. The study didn’t not specifically say this but other information has revealed that one way mobile device users do this is by cross-checking prices at stores on the Internet on the spot. Reportedly this has been a boon to Amazon’s business, since the online retailer consistently has the lowest prices of all major retailers.

–73 percent of survey respondents say they use their mobile device for more than a phone — the primary uses are text messaging and uploading photographs.

–42 percent of mobile phone users say devices have saved them from boredom. One would only have to take a few trips on the New York subway system to verify this. There, the number is probably closer to 80 percent, if not higher, since riders listen to music and play games and write messages they’ll send when service restores once above ground while riding the trains.

–Forty percent of mobile phone users say they have found themselves in an emergency situation where having the device helped them out.

–29 percent of the Pew study resopndents say they turn off their mobile devices to get a break from using it — presumably this is done when nobody is around that want to avoid interaction with.

–23 percent of mobile phone users say they have experienced frustration because their phone takes too long to download information.

–16 percent said they have had difficulty reading something on their mobile phone because the screen is too small.




Internet users now have more and closer friends than those offline

Internet users now have more and closer friends than those offline
In a new study done by the Pew Research Center, collections of data from thousands of participants showed that people who use social networking services are now not only likely to have larger networks than those who don’t, but also have more close friends.

Can I be your friend?

We Are All Cyborgs Now -Amber Case