Do you carry your phone around all day? In this tip, Anastasia explains why it's important to set up the boundaries, of when and where you are available and connected, and when/where not. As with any tool, there is space and time to use the technology, and she shares a few tricks of how to do that.
Let us know if you found this tip helpful by posting your comments below!
Augmented reality is here, and is already having a strong impact on everyone, including those who never played a video game in their lives and never heard about augmented reality.
Pokemon Go, a smartphone game that lets users catch imaginary figures of Pokemon (pronounced the same way in plural) on real streets, has become a global phenomenon in just a couple of weeks. It is dominating the Appstore, already boasts more users than Tinder and Twitter, and will be officially launching in the UK in a matter of days. Millions of gamers who got out of their rooms to browse through the real cities in search of virtual monsters mark the beginning of the new era for all of us, where the virtual and real worlds collide. And judging by the news from the past week, no one is ready for this collision and it will likely be quite painful.
The game in a nutshell
Pokemon Go uses the player's smartphone GPS data (similar to Google Maps) and camera to navigate them across the real streets and parks of the city or village in search for little virtual monsters. As a player moves along, she comes across different Pokemon, which she needs to capture. Some physical locations in the cities have been labelled by Niantic Inc, a Google split-off behind the game, as Pokestops -- places, where gamers can collect tools to capture more Pokemon. Players can also purchase the "lure modules" and place them in a Pokestop, which will attract the virtual figures to their area for 30 minutes, so they can capture even more Pokemon.
Once a player collected her Pokemon, she can train them in a local "gym" to get stronger and fight with Pokemon of other players.
Many gamers are enthusiastically sharing on social media that they are finally motivated to get into the streets instead of sitting in their homes, in search of new Pokemon, and even make real friends with strangers, who are on the hunt for monsters.
So why should you care? At the end of the day, this all sounds like an innocent fun for teenagers and kidults, who refuse to grow up. Except that it is not, and has already affected many more people around who have nothing to do with gaming.
What's going on?
The first worrying news is, of course, that the number of people staring at their phone screens all the time, while walking in the streets, will increase disproportionally. There have already been multiple reports of smaller and larger injuries, with players damaging themselves while trying to get a virtual figure and not noticing the traffic or change in the landscape. Drivers will now have to be even more attentive, as there'll be more players crossing the streets chasing a Pokemon and ignoring the cars. Let's hope not many of them will be in the driving seat.
Second, and even more disturbingly, the in-game "lure" feature has already been already reported as used by criminals to attract the players into the less crowded places with many Pokemon and rob them. The police in the US, where the game was released among the first, issued a warning to "keep behaving as you would do in a normal environment", advising players not to go by themselves to remote places, where they can be attacked. Easier said than done when you're on the hunt for a Pikachu.
Third, the life rhythm of many people who had nothing to do with gaming was disrupted, as physical locations defined as Pokestops and "gyms" in the game attracted players who tried catching Pokemon at all times of the day, including at night. Imagine waking up at 3am and seeing a group of people across your house furiously tapping their phones. The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services in Australia issued a request to players not to go hunting inside the police station. So far Niantic Inc has not established the process of complaining and changing locations.
What we've learned so far
Over the last two weeks, we got yet another confirmation that software companies have an immense power to change the behaviour not only of single individuals, but also that of the masses. By simply placing a virtual figure next to a particular point, they can move thousands of people without any effort, disrupting the lives of businesses and humans. They might not still realize their own power, which isn't good news, because it means they aren't realizing their responsibility. Or they might realize it and only use it to earn money. Not good news either, let alone the fact that this power can be easily used and abused by criminals.
While the media is busy republishing the same press-release saying that the Pokemon Go is helping the gamers get into the real world, and hence helps their mental state, it's only a small part of the truth. What we actually witnessed is that people's brains getting totally confused with augmented reality. And this is only the beginning.
When the gaming company suggests we should "behave as normal", but claiming that is a hypocrisy at its worst or a total lack of understanding of how the human brain works. We are wired to look for unusual things, and Pokemon with their bright colours will be the first that our brain identifies. Not the "dangers" in the real world.
We all have certain "spacial maps" in our brains, according to which we navigate. Our brain is used to identify the obstacles and measure the distance to them. By stopping to use our side eyesight while staring at our phones, and stopping to rely on our sense of spacial awareness that has been developing for thousands of years, we put ourselves in the immense danger in the real world. A mobile phone is not an object that is capable to replace all of our 5 senses, and yet in the current version of the augmented reality this is what it encourages our brain to do. Again, all attempts to say that "people should behave normally" are simply a lie - you can not behave normally when your brain is overwhelmed and you are not using your normal perception channels.
Augmented reality as it is presented through Pokemon Go is not enhancing your life experience and perception, it is depriving you of your capabilities to react to the threats and opportunities of the real world.
Then again, the dopamine affect. Dopamine, the hormone of pleasure also associated with all sorts of addictions, gets released when we discover something new and unusual - and Pokemon Go perfectly fits the bill.
Add to that parents, who are clueless about what sort of things their kids are doing on their phones, as they "don't get this tech stuff" and we get a pretty apocalyptic picture.
What shall we do?
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to say that Pokemon Go is an ultimate evil and needs to be prohibited. In fact, it's a very average and a rather raw game, which will be on its peak for a few months, until it's displaced by other, more sophisticated games.
However, the game release showed us that the power has shifted. Software companies now have as much (if not more) power as policy makers, but they don't have policies and procedures to prevent the harm they might do, except of "issuing a warning", which isn't doing anything. Our minds and behaviours are impacted in the strongest possible way, and our daily lives might be affected even if we have nothing to do with the above. And the worst thing, we aren't realizing it and keep enthusiastically experimenting on millions of people.
Perhaps it's time that we recognize that technology isn't just about "people having fun" or companies just earning money, but is actually bringing massive shifts to how each of us lives and how our society operates. Perhaps it's time to start talking about it in a constructive way in the public space - involving policy makers, media, lawyers, and of course, developers, who need to start thinking about the social consequences of their work and make it part of their daily jobs. Perhaps there need to be certain legal frameworks, and sociologists and emergency services need to be involved in the discussion before games like Pokemon Go get released. It's too big of an issue to run it as a worldwide an experiment.
Last week I spoke at the Future Health Summit in Dublin about flourishing in an age of digital distraction, the impact of tech on our minds and behavior, and what it means for the health industry. What should health tech industry keep in mind to make sure it is really making a change to people's lives? I hope you enjoy this recording kindly taken by Lawrence Ampofo from Digital Mindfulness.
We are working on a new video course on digital marketing in an age of digital distraction and wanted to share with you the first episode. This course is about how to do email marketing in an age of digital distraction, when your customers are overwhelmed by hundreds of messages coming their way. What might have worked 5 years ago doesn’t work today, but a lot of email marketers still do marketing in the old way, and repeat the old mistakes (or even what used not to be a mistake).
It is not simply a promo for the course, but also has some useful exercises, that you can start using today to improve your email marketing.
Once you've finished watching it, I'd love to hear your feedback!
Text by Taylah Donegan
With reportedly over 2 million people in South Korea considered to have an internet addiction (one of the highest numbers in the world), Koreans have finally started to notice the dangers of unbalanced use of devices. A number of popular TV entertainment shows are choosing to focus on the relationships between humans and technology.
On the 19th March 2016, Lee Sedol, a Korean champion in an ancient intellectual game of Go (or baduk), lost to the artificial intelligence program AlphaGo, produced by Google. The game that can last for several hours and has been likened to Chess in the West is one of the most popular ones in Korea, and Lee's setback was covered by the likes of Sky news and CNN.
In spite of his loss, Lee Sedol's popularity in Korea rose even more, especially amongst people who weren’t originally a fan of the game. His loss became a talking point in many Korean shows, and became the inspiration for an episode on a very popular TV show Running Man, which focused on Man vs Machine and tried to show how overdependent we have become on our devices,
Low tech challenges
Running Man is a Korean variety show that has been on the air for almost six years and has become a household name. The cast meet weekly to film the show which follows the format of small missions that lead into a final mission. This time, producers chose to give the cast a variety of tasks that highlighted just how dependent its citizens are on technology.
Missions such as making the members navigate themselves around the city without the use of a GPS caused a panic within cast members, in which several members exclaimed that they have never even used a map before in their lives. Interestingly, this issue was seen to not be generational, as oldest member Ji SukJin, who is 50 years old, had the most problems navigating himself around Seoul.
Other tasks included trying to win a match against a robotic arm in a game of balloon popping, and playing against a high tech computer in a popular Korean word association game, which in many ways resembled Lee Sedol’s match against the AlphaGo.
They resisted, but then enjoyed it
The challenges were initially detested by most of the members, comedian Kim Junho even exclaimed that he felt like a stress test lab rat.
However, over the course of the week, the cast began to notice that actually spending time with each other, and without technology coming literally in-between them, helped them to appreciate the value of one another, and loved ones, gaining relationships over convenience, and experiences that were analog - not digital.
In later episodes after that particular mission was over, some of the members even stated that they did try and reduce their usage of smart phones when they could. Overall, this particular episode did well, and the program even extended the mission to female comedians, when the show later expanded.
Running Man is not the first Korean show to highlight the issue of tech dependency. In late 2012, entertainment show The Human Condition challenged a group of comedians to live for one week without the use of smartphones, the Internet and television for their pilot episode, in a sort of social experiment.
With Korean rehabilitation clinics for Internet and gaming addiction on the rise, and with 1 in 4 teenagers diagnosed with Internet addiction attending these clinics, it is extremely important and beneficial that these major entertainment companies continue to tackle this issue from the source, and continue to showcase the effects of Internet dependency in a light hearted manner that allows conversation to begin.
We've got more tech life balance stories...
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.