Should we dumb down our smartphones to stop us becoming more stupid?

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Mike the Psych's Blog

Last September I asked on my other blog: Have we finally realised we need to unplug ourselves from endless apps and social media connections?

aansyq1I described the Light Phone and the fact that the old Nokia 3310 from 2000 was selling well on the internet. Now it’s been announced that the Nokia will be sold again with a larger colour screen but with only basic call and text facilities for around £49 in the UK.

It seems that the smartphone idea was being dumbed-down. Is that a bad idea?

Well in the Times Body & Soulsection last weekend they asked “is your smartphone making you stupid?.

41-epxoutyl-_sx309_bo1204203200_They thought it was – if you count a fleeting attention span, a poorer memory, and a more passive intellect as signs of increasing stupidity.

Arianna Huffington‘s book “Thrive: The third metric to redefining success and creating a happier life”

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Are men in UK leading the way back to Work-Life balance?

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figure_juggling_balls_500_wht_4301Men have traditionally been seen as the main wage-earners, even as workaholics. The best they could look forward to was a bit of spare time in their (usually short) retirement.

Then in the 1980s came the idea of work-life balance, when people were demanding more flexibility than the standard working hours (which had steadily reduced over the previous century). But with the banking crisis the term suddenly dropped out of fashion.

We were told it was now work-life merge! And who was promoting this idea? Well women were doing their bit to discourage us from thinking that you could have a healthy balance between work and home allowing you to have quality time with your family.

Women like Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook who encouraged women to “lean in” to have the best of both worlds. Or Marissa Mayer who was appointed to the top job at Yahoo when she was pregnant, built herself a crèche next to her office and banned staff from working from home.

Mayer is currently under pressure having lost about a dozen C-level executives this year and has been accused of having a controlling management style. She’s currently pregnant with  twins and plans to take two weeks maternity leave (her entitlement is 16 weeks). Mark Zuckerberg (head of Facebook) on the other hand is planning to take two months off work when his child is born.

But enough of theses highly paid female CEOs. The good news is that over a million men in the UK are now making an effort to get more out of life than just work by reducing their hours or working more flexibly. They are keen to stay fit, follow a hobby, see more of their kids, and contribute more to their communities.

NB This year there were 14.3 million men employed full-time and 2.1 million working part-time in the UK.

FYI Britain doesn’t come out too well in the OECD list of top countries for work-life balance. Denmark is No. 1 followed by Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and Norway. We come in at No.23! Sweden is 6th and currently experiencing an upsurge of interest in work-life balance

So a long way to go by comparison but don’t let these highly paid American female CEOs put you off!

If you want to be happier – ditch Facebook!

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stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170Research from The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen in Denmark (one of the happiest countries in the world) has found that giving up your Facebook account boosts happiness and reduces anger and loneliness.

Life satisfaction rose significantly in the space of a week when participants were unable to read the updates of their friends. The institute was surprised by the changes in such a short time and wants to raise awareness on the influence of social media on feelings of fulfilment.

Facebook and other social media sites are “a constant flow of edited lives which distort our view of reality” it said in its report The Facebook Experiment.

They recruited over a thousand people in Denmark and asked half of them to avoid Facebook for a week. Participants were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after the experiment.

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Workplace bullying and Facebook

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dislike_ink_stamp_1600_wht_9113I’m not referring to cyber-bullying here but the facility on Facebook to “friend” people.

An Australian employment tribunal has ruled that “unfriending” someone amounts to workplace bullying.

In this case a row developed between two people in an estate agent’s about a lost sale after which the  owner’s wife, Lisa Bird, stopped saying “good morning” to her colleague Rachael Roberts who had worked there for ten years. Roberts had already complained to the boss that she wasn’t getting a fair share of her properties displayed in the front window. After that the boss’s wife accused her of  being “a naughty little schoolgirl running to the teacher”.

Miss Roberts immediately checked her Facebook account to see if Mrs Bird had posted any comments about the row and saw that she had deleted her as a friend. (At this point I’m thinking is that what intelligent adults actually do at work? Check their Facebook accounts?)

Anyway the tribunal said that the act was “indicative of unreasonable behaviour” and ruled in Miss Roberts’ favour. Mrs Bird had “behaved in an unreasonable manner” and shown “a lack of emotional maturity“. I’d love to have eavesdropped on the conversation between Mr and Mrs Bird after that decision!

Once again Facebook has been someone’s downfall. What happens when Facebook introduces its “dislike” icon?

Save Facebook for your personal life, if you need it,and don’t assume all your work colleagues are friends

Facebook is best company to work for in Britain!

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stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170Shocked as I am to repeat that headline (because I detest Facebook’s disregard for privacy) according to website Glassdoor, which asks employees to rate their employers anonymously, it appears that it’s true.

Paying an average salary of £66,000 (More than 2.5 times the national average), providing free food (throughout the day) and drink and flexible working it came out ahead of other technology companies and way ahead of Amazon.

You may recall Amazon was criticised recently for providing a dystopian work environment with some employees working 80 hours a week.  The company denied the allegations but still didn’t even make the top 25. Loved by customers but hated by the staff it seems.

At the rate Amazon are progressing with its algorithms and plans for robot pickers and drone deliveries there probably won’t be many staff left to moan anyway.

Facebook pays its software engineers more than Google, Skype and Amazon although not as much as a principal associate at McKinsey & Company who came 16th.

It isn’t only about pay however, according to Mark Di-Toro of Glassdoor “For some workers it is about making the most amount of money but others told us it’s about perks such as healthcare for the family, free food, generous holiday allowances, game consoles in the offices and even spas“.

The number of Facebook employees in the UK is unknown but they employ 10,000 in 13 countries.

The top end of the list was  dominated by software companies and being cynical I wonder if there was any hacking going on to inflate the data in a positive direction.  Of course software companies wouldn’t do that kind of thing, would they? Except some employees seemed to be encouraged to write positive blogs at Amazon.

The good news is that more than half of the top 25 companies were located outside London with an online appliance company, appropriately called Appliances Online, based in Bolton coming in at No 5 and another software company, Netbuilder, based in Wigan

Is using e-mails a sign of old age?

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laptop_mail_pc_1600_wht_2103Recent reports suggest that using e-mails is a give-away about your age.

Young people apparently avoid using e-mails if they can preferring to communicate via Facebook, through texts (SMS), Twitter, or other social media. And some companies encourage their employees to do that.

It seems that e-mailing is only considered suitable for the older generation , the silver surfers.

So just when we’ve all got used to working on the internet something else comes along. Now I know what the Post Office must have felt like when people stopped writing letters that had to be sent in envelopes.

And then there is e-mail etiquette to consider.

There’s a lot to be said for e-mails which you can print off if you need to. However the downside is the fact that some senders feel the need to copy everyone into this missive. Personally I would ignore an e-mail if it wasn’t addressed directly to me. And some companies, in Germany for example, have banned e-mails outside working hours or when people are on holiday.

Let’s face it a backlog of e-mails can be stressful so I like the idea of all e-mails sent during holiday periods being automatically deleted. You have to start somewhere.

We might be living in an “always on” culture with a global 24/7/365 approach but you can always turn off your smartphone and ignore your in-box – if you’re brave enough!

There’s evidence that the over-use of modern technology only adds to the stress in our lives.