Tech News

Ban Smartphones In Schools, Barack Obama Joins Twitter, & More… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 19-05-2015

Smartphone school ban, Obama tweets, Google mines public photos, YouTube Kids for adults, Anderson Cooper is a ClickHole, and how to schedule your poops.

More Schools Should Ban Smartphones

Schools should ban smartphones from the classroom in order to help kids perform better in exams. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from a study conducted by the London School of Economics. It has been published at a time when, having previously banned smartphones, some schools are starting to lift restrictions.

Titled, Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance [PDF link], the study found that teenagers studying in schools which have banned smartphones perform better by an average of 6.4 percent. This is the equivalent of one hour extra spent in school every week, or, as the LSE put it, the “equivalent of adding five days to the school year.”

This study suggests we should actually be toughening bans on smartphones in schools, especially as students deemed as “low-achieving and low-income” actually saw the biggest improvement (of 14.23 percent) in tests. Thus countering the claims of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who has suggested lifting restrictions on smartphones in schools would reduce inequality.

While this study was carried out in four English cities — London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Leicester — it stands to reason that the results would be replicated elsewhere in the world. Smartphones are obviously a hugely important innovation Are Smartphones Good or Bad for Society? [MakeUseOf Poll] Smartphones are now an unavoidable part of the world. Even if you don't own one, you'll find yourself exposed to them. The question is, are smartphones good or bad for society? Read More driving the modern world, but that doesn’t mean they belong in classrooms, where they’re likely to distract students from learning.

Agree? Disagree? Please let us know in the comments below.

President Obama Finally Joins Twitter

Barack Obama has officially joined Twitter, with the U.S. President adopting the username @POTUS. Obama has previously tweeted through the @BarackObama account, but while that is run by staff of Organizing for Action, this new account is believed to be meant for him to use independently.

As stated on the White House Blog, “The @POTUS Twitter account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him. President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them.”

Obama’s first tweet is embedded above, and he has (at the time of writing) sent two more tweets since. Notable people to have tweeted These 5 People Got Really Famous Just By Using Twitter There's tons of celebs who got famous and then made their way onto Twitter. And there's a few who did it the other way around. They got on Twitter, and then got famous. Read More at the President include his wife Michelle and former President Bill Clinton. What happens when Obama leaves office in 2016 remains to be seen.

Google Discovers Time-Lapse Mining

A team comprising engineers from both Google and the University of Washington have discovered what it calls “Time-lapse Mining”. As reported by Engadget, essentially, this method creates time-lapse videos of landmarks and places of interest by stitching together photos uploaded to the Internet.

Images are sourced by Flickr, Picasa, and others, sorted by location, and ordered by date. They are then melded together to create the kind of scenes featured in the video embedded above. Some of these are epic, containing more than 1,000 photographs. Thankfully, the results are breathtaking.

YouTube Kids Not Suitable for Children

YouTube Kids YouTube Kids App Hides the Sex, Iggy Azalea is Bullied off Twitter [Tech News Digest] YouTube Kids is launching, Iggy Azalea abandons Twitter, Apple repairs old MacBooks, a Facebook emergency, Photoshop hits 25, and an iPad magician blows Ellen's mind. Read More may not be as safe for children as Google intended, at least according to consumer groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. These two groups have already filed a complaint Stop Queuing at Apple Stores, YouTube Kids Is Bad M'kay, & More... [Tech News Digest] Apple Store lines, YouTube Kids complaints, Google Moderator closes, Imgur embed options, Hulu GIF searches, and Game of Thrones gets a modern-day makeover. Read More with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but they have now found evidence of some less-than-savory content on the app as well.

As can be seen in the video embedded above, this includes a Family Guy song containing curse words, a guide to red wine, a discussion of legalizing marijuana, and a TED talk about teenage suicide. Google has responded to the claims, telling VentureBeat it “make[s] the videos in YouTube Kids as family-friendly as possible and take[s] feedback very seriously”.

Anderson Cooper Discovers ClickHole

Until yesterday (May 18) Anderson Cooper had apparently never heard of ClickHole. Now, he’ll never forget the name. This is because Cooper noticed words attributed to him on ClickHole that he maintains he never said. Because he didn’t.

ClickHole is the spoof clickbait site Don't Tear Up On Clickbait -- Cull It With ClickHole From The Onion [Weird & Wonderful Web] You will have clicked on clickbait at some point, whether or not you're aware of having done so. The practice has recently evolved into something much more insidious and annoying. Enter ClickHole. Read More from the same people behind The Onion. It exists to mock the kind of content favored by BuzzFeed Why Buzzfeed's Business Model is Doomed to Fail BuzzFeed's really popular now, but their business model ensures no one will trust or like them in the long term. Read More and Upworthy Upworthy Isn't As Awful As You May Think [Opinion] Upworthy has got a lot of hate as a "clickbaity", sensationalist website that is out to steal content and promote itself. Is it pure evil in Internet form or does it deserve some credit? Read More . One of the regular features is a succession of made-up quotes by celebrities, and Cooper was recently one of the targets.

After tweeting a denial of uttering the quote, Cooper’s followers clued him into the nature of ClickHole. At which point he graciously took a step back. And to be fair, Cooper isn’t the first celebrity to react in this way, as Russell Crowe did the exact same thing last month.

Deuce Lets You Schedule Your Poop

And finally, we all have to use the toilet on occasion, and this can sometimes get in the way of doing something else more productive. However, with Deuce, taking a poop no longer has to interfere with the rest of your plans for the day.

Deuce is a calendar app designed to help you manage your time better. You just swallow a pill, sync it with your phone, and then plan your day around any impending loo time. Well, you could if Deuce was real, but alas, it’s just a spoof by comedic trio The Bilderbergers.

Deuce may not be real, but there are actual Android apps aimed at helping you pee and poo 5 Hilarious yet Useful Bathroom-Related Apps for Android From finding a bathroom to faking going to the bathroom, here are some interesting bathroom-related apps for you to peruse. Read More in comfort and style. Because the truth is often stranger than fiction.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Do you agree that schools should ban smartphones? Will you be following President Obama on Twitter? Are you happy for Google to use your photos for time-lapses? Have your children seen anything inappropriate on YouTube Kids?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Image Credits: Daveynin via Flickr

Related topics: Google, Photo Sharing, Twitter, YouTube.

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  1. Nobama
    May 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Obama on Twitter? I'm glad he's fixed everything that's wrong with the country and has time for tweeting. /sarc

  2. dragonmouth
    May 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    "More Schools Should Ban Smartphones"
    ALL schools should ban smartphones in the classroom. They are nothing but a disruption during class hours. Parents claim that their kids need the phones in case of an emergency. My wife has been teaching in our school district for about 15 years. During all that there hasn't been one emergency that justified a kid needing to call his/her parents. The schools have made emergency phone calls to parents but that was mostly because students have come to school inappropriately dressed.

    New York mayor Bill de Blasio is a left wing radical who, to correct the inequality, would provide smartphones at the city's expense to those who don't have them, rather than altogether ban the phones in schools.

    "Barack Obama has officially joined Twitter"
    Big Whoop! Another twit on Twitter.

  3. Scutterman
    May 19, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    "What happens when Obama leaves office in 2016 remains to be seen."
    The most recent tweet (at time of writing) says that the @POTUS handle "comes with the house".
    I imagine that Obama will either keep the account, and change the handle (meaning that the next POTUS gets to use the POTUS handle) or that the entire account will be transferred (meaning that the next POTUS gets all of the followers too). I would guess at the latter, if this really is about making the government more open.
    Tweet in question: