To post or not to post on social media, that is the question

Privacy-wary parents are increasingly pausing before they post photos, names and other information about their wee ones on social media. Some are choosing a complete blackout, while others opt for nicknames and a few carefully selected snapshots.

Here are some social media tips for parents, relatives and friends.


If you don't know how a parent feels about having photos of their kids posted on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere, ask before uploading a photo and before you tag the parents in a photo. This goes even for close relatives. Actually, it's not a bad idea to ask everyone you post a photo of if they're cool with it, especially if the snaps were taken at a party, swimming pool or any other less buttoned-up situation. It can prevent awkward conversations later.


Facebook's privacy settings are complex, but they also offer granular settings that let you pick who can see your updates. One way to do this: Create a "secret" group and add the members you want. The problem here is that anyone in the group can add new members to the group.

Another way to limit the audience of each post you share is to click on the right tab under your update, which may currently say "friends" or "public." Click on "custom" and choose which of your Facebook friends you want to share with and which ones you'd like to exclude. It's simpler on Instagram, where you can either lock your account or set it to public.


Opinions on the age at which parents should start talking to their kids about Internet and social media use vary. Some parents start as soon as their child is old enough to use a smartphone, which can be as early as 2 or 3 years. Amy Heinz, who blogs about her kids, often talks to her 8-year-old about posts she writes about him, but says her younger children, who are 5 and 3, know about the blog but "don't have a concept" of what it means exactly. Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit Common Sense Media, waited until her son was 15 before posting a photo of him on Facebook — and asked his permission first.


Some parents opt for e-mailing or texting photos to one person or to a small group rather than sharing them more widely on social media. Online storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox also let you distribute photos privately, as do photo-sharing sites such as Flickr. Of course, there's always the old-fashioned snail mail method, if you can still find a place to print snapshots.


That photo of your little one with pea soup all over her face, or the one that shows her first time on the potty might be funny at the time, but think about what she may think of the photo if it's still online when she's a teen. Today's generation of parents did not grow up with the reality that their private moments growing up will be documented and often posted on the Internet for all eternity. Before posting a photo or anecdote, take a moment to imagine a conversation about it with your child 10 or 15 years from now.

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New data reveals shocking details of human sleep habits

As it turns out, New York is far from “the city that never sleeps”

By Ian Lang, Daily Digest News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014



Jawbone, best known as the high-tech hand-free headset used by only the world’s coolest and most important cell phone talkers, also has a nifty device called UP, which can monitor both its wearers sleep and activity levels. Thanks to a study Jawbone conducted using data from UP wearers, they’ve given us a fascinating insight into not just human behavior, but culture around the world, as well. Some takeaways? New York doesn’t sleep much (but it’s undeserving of it’s “city that never sleeps” moniker), and almost no one sleeps enough.

In the US, New Yorkers average 6 hours and 47 minutes of sleep per day, and they start things on the later side – by 9 am, 30% of New Yorkers are still snoozing. They are, however, the most active city in the US, averaging 8,704 steps per day. Contrast New York with Washington, DC, and you see the military influence on the differences in culture: DC sleeps about the same amount of hours, but by 7:30 am, just a third of DC residents are still asleep. The smaller, more localized nature of the city also leads the Hill crowd to take fewer steps at 8,262.

World wide, Tokyo is hands-down the busiest city – they sleep, on average, just 5 hours and 46 minutes of sleep per night. They also happen to get there by being the last to go to bed at night and the first to wake in the morning. Dubai, though not the sleepiest city, has the most flexible sleep schedule with 10% of UP users still asleep at 11 am. The honor of best rested city in the study goes to Melbourne, Australia – their residents showed an average of 6 hours and 57 minutes of sleep per night.

Most health professionals recommend getting anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and no city in the study averaged out to even the minimum of seven – signs, possibly, that as a species we’re over-extended. The cultural differences are also interesting – workers in Beijing, for instance, can be seen taking afternoon naps in the workplace, as can citizens of Madrid. All told, no city ever had anywhere close to 100% of its residents asleep at once (the maximum was 95% due to early risers and shift workers). In that regard, it seems that every city is truly the city that never sleeps.

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Mystery disc-shaped UFO could be world's clearest pictures of 'flying saucer' so far

    Aug 19, 2014 12:53
    By Gareth Roberts

Houston, is this a problem? Social media buzzes with talk of 'aliens' after unexplained object twirls above the streets of Texas


Stunned skygazers were wowed by a close encounter with a mystery object that appeared to spin through storm clouds in Houston.

Gobsmacked snappers took to Twitter and Facebook to reveal their 'extraterrestrial' experience – with several amateur snappers posting up their pics of the hovering 'alien' craft.

The bright spaceship-like object, which appears to have lights underneath it, has sparked speculation of an alien invasion across the pond but experts have dampened talk of a real-life Independence Day.

Footage above was filmed by YouTube user Andrew Pena who was trying to film a lightning storm.

He said: "The lights that i saw with my own eyes were tracing and streaking left and right and in half circles. It was absolutely crazy stuff."

Dr. Carolyn Sumners, vice president for Astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science told KPRC: "I think the trick in UFOs is figuring out what else they could be."

"It's easy to say that it could be aliens," she added.

"If it's a real object and it looks like it is, the more people who see it in different directions, the more likely we are to figure out where it is, what it is and see if we can explain it.

"All the way back in recorded history there have been things we can't explain. That's what makes it exciting."

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Trouble identifying satire? Get all your news from Facebook? You're in luck, dummy There's a special tag. (That means label)

By Kelly Fiveash, 18 Aug 2014

Facebook is experimenting with a "satire" tag on the free content ad network to help users with reading comprehension problems to distinguish real news from parody pieces that use ironic exaggeration.

The po-faced decision to editorialise such links on Facebook's News Feed remains an experiment for now, the Mark Zuckerberg-run firm told Ars Technica, which first spotted the "satire" tag.

The tag only appears in a user's News Feed after they have clicked on, for example, an Onion link via the desktop version of Facebook. Related articles from the parody site then appear below that story with the word "Satire" wrapped in parenthesis in front of the headline.

As noted by Ars, the Onion's "Police officer Doesn't See A Difference Between Black, Light-Skinned Black Suspects" piece becomes "[Satire] Police officer Doesn't See A Difference Between Black, Light-Skinned Black Suspects".

Facebook confessed in a statement that some of its users were a bit thick:

We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units.

Google similarly frets about users mistaking an Onion article for a real story. All such links come with Satire warnings on Google News.

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Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain


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    THIS month, many Americans will take time off from work to go on vacation, catch up on household projects and simply be with family and friends. And many of us will feel guilty for doing so. We will worry about all of the emails piling up at work, and in many cases continue to compulsively check email during our precious time off.

    But beware the false break. Make sure you have a real one. The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.

    Every day we’re assaulted with facts, pseudofacts, news feeds and jibber-jabber, coming from all directions. According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986. As the world’s 21,274 television stations produce some 85,000 hours of original programming every day (by 2003 figures), we watch an average of five hours of television per day. For every hour of YouTube video you watch, there are 5,999 hours of new video just posted!

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited. This is a result of how the brain’s attentional system evolved. Our brains have two dominant modes of attention: the task-positive network and the task-negative network (they’re called networks because they comprise distributed networks of neurons, like electrical circuits within the brain). The task-positive network is active when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted; neuroscientists have taken to calling it the central executive. The task-negative network is active when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode. These two attentional networks operate like a seesaw in the brain: when one is active the other is not.

    This two-part attentional system is one of the crowning achievements of the human brain, and the focus it enables allowed us to harness fire, build the pyramids, discover penicillin and decode the entire human genome. Those projects required some plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

    But the insight that led to them probably came from the daydreaming mode. This brain state, marked by the flow of connections among disparate ideas and thoughts, is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. You might be going for a walk or grocery shopping or doing something that doesn’t require sustained attention and suddenly — boom — the answer to a problem that had been vexing you suddenly appears. This is the mind-wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected.

    A third component of the attentional system, the attentional filter, helps to orient our attention, to tell us what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. This undoubtedly evolved to alert us to predators and other dangerous situations. The constant flow of information from Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, text messages and the like engages that system, and we find ourselves not sustaining attention on any one thing for very long — the curse of the information age.

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    My collaborator Vinod Menon, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford, and I showed that the switch between daydreaming and attention is controlled in a part of the brain called the insula, an important structure about an inch or so beneath the surface of the top of your skull. Switching between two external objects involves the temporal-parietal junction. If the relationship between the central executive system and the mind-wandering system is like a seesaw, then the insula — the attentional switch — is like an adult holding one side down so that the other stays up in the air. The efficacy of this switch varies from person to person, in some functioning smoothly, in others rather rusty. But switch it does, and if it is called upon to switch too often, we feel tired and a bit dizzy, as though we were seesawing too rapidly.

    Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

    If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

    Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

    Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.

    Daydreaming leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment. Music, for example, turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.

    This radical idea — that problem solving might take some time and doesn’t always have to be accomplished immediately — could have profound effects on decision making and even on our economy. Consider this: By some estimates, preventable medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. You want your diagnostician to give the right answer, not always the quickest one. Zoning out is not always bad. You don’t want your airline pilot or air traffic controller to do it while they’re on the job, but you do want them to have opportunities to reset — this is why air traffic control and other high-attention jobs typically require frequent breaks. Several studies have shown that people who work overtime reach a point of diminishing returns.

    Taking breaks is biologically restorative. Naps are even better. In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue. If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.

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