Wednesday, March 29, 2017

5 New Digital Age Brain Disorders

The Week has an interesting article by Tammy Kennon about five new brain disorders that are a result of the digital age in which we live. According to Cognitive Neuroscientists, all the time we spend in front of screens has changed the way we read and comprehend.

The five new disorder are:

1. Nomophobia
Also know as "No-Mobile Phobia," nomophobia is the fear of "being separated from one's phone or tablet." Feelings can range from panic to desperation.

2. Technoference
Tech devices can interrupt leisure time, conversations, and meals and intimacy with others. The researchers found the higher technoference the lower relationships and one's satisfaction with life.

3. The phantom ring
The terms refer to the perception that one's mobile device is ringing or vibrating when it is not.

4. Cyberchondria
Hypochondria is not a new disorder, but the internet has taken it to the next level. In the broadest definition, cyberchondria refers to people who research and diagnose their own illnesses online. Some take this to the extreme and the self-diagnosis may, in fact, be wrong.

5. Truman Show Delusion
Named after the 1998 move, The Truman Show, The Truman Show Delusion is the false perception that ones life is being broadcast, according to Colin Lecher at Popular Science. "The resulting delusions aren't real, but they certainly aren't random: They're a half-skip past reality, a snippet of the world taken and blown out of proportion." According to leading experts in the field of psychiatry, the disorder is not a new diagnosis but a fresh twist on persecutory and grandiose illusions.
Personal note: In the 19 years since The Truman Show, that fact that our lives are being broadcast is more fact than fiction (eg: Facebook live, snooping by The Internet of Things devices, online tracking).

Source: 5 new brain disorders that were born out of the digital age - The Week

Related reading: Internet addiction disorder Wikipedia

Monday, March 6, 2017

Your Smart TV May Be Spying On You

Your Smart TV may be going far beyond tracking the programs you watch. It may listen into to your conversations and even watch you from its built-in video camera.

Last month Vizio, maker of Smart TVs, agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission after the company collected second-by-second viewing data from its customers and did so it without purchaser's consent. Until multiple new reports about this spying, many consumers did even know this was a possibility.

The data amassed by Vizio included customers’ sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership status. The data was sold to third parties.

Court Order Against Vizio
The stipulated federal court order:
"requires VIZIO to prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices, and prohibits misrepresentations about the privacy, security, or confidentiality of consumer information they collect. It also requires the company to delete data collected before March 1, 2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program."
Other Smart TV makers may be doing the same. For example, in their privacy notice (small print) Samsung says they: "capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features."

If you have a Smart TV, read this WIRED article How To Stop Your Smart TV From Spying on You. It includes tips such as disconnecting from your internet or Ethernet connection. If you can't, they advise that you reset the TV to its factory default setting, and don't give it your W-Fi password during the set up process.

Any device connected to the internet has the capability of tracking you. In addition, it can be a target of hackers.

If you don't have a Smart TV, don't buy one. In fact, think before you purchase any internet connected home device.

FCC press release - Vizio collected viewing histories on 11 million smart televisions without users’ consent