Is social media taking advantage of kids?


Generation Like examines the impact of social media on young people. (PBS)

Here’s a look at five ideas that impact how we live, work and play.

1. Social media vs. kids. Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has a new documentary for “Frontline,” called “Generation Like,” which explores social media marketing and young people’s obsession with accruing likes and followers. It premieres Tuesday night on PBS at 10 p.m. Rushkoff is concerned about our youth, as explained on CNN:

It’s our young social media users who are out of touch — or at least painfully oblivious to the way the tools and platforms they’re using in turn use them. They grew up with this stuff in their lives, and they accept these tools at face value, as features of the natural landscape. Not so. They were made by companies whose interests go far beyond helping kids express themselves and make friends. Our kids are not the customers here; they are both the product and the unwitting labor.

I had the chance to get an early look at Rushkoff’s work. It’s thoughtful, and there are interesting case studies of young people using social media in ways we’ve never seen before. Ultimately just as he argues that young people accept these new tools as natural and normal, I think older generations — Rushkoff included — are often immediately wary of new technologies and how they change future generations. The ways we grow up and live are changing, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While there are reasons to be concerned, ultimately the story of social media is a positive one.

I encourage you to check out “Generation Like,” and share your thoughts of Rushkoff’s arguments.

2. Man vs. machine, on the ping-pong table. Via the Verge:

For industrial-robot maker Kuka, its new factory in southwestern Shanghai is being celebrated with a battle between man and machine. On March 11th, the company’s squaring off one of its Agilus robots against German table tennis player Timo Boll. While Boll has storied career of victories against human players, he’s playing against a model Kuka says is the fastest in the world.

3. The social network with STDs on its mind. Via Mashable:

A company called Hula is attempting to execute the concept in a way that is discrete and promotes healthiness. By enabling sharing of verified test results, the Hula app, which formerly went by Qpid.me, aims to make a certain conversation between prospective romantic partners “less awkward,” according to the company’s Web site.

4. Doors that open like origami. Via Fast Company:

Vienna-based artist Klemens Torggler designs doors, except they don’t feel like doors. They don’t swing open or shut. Instead, you tickle them and they unfold. Part sculpture, part origami, Torggler’s doors seem less like doors than optical illusions of geometry.

5. The Internet on your wall. From Jake Levine on Medium:

The Internet is stuck. It’s stuck inside devices and patterns of interaction that don’t live up to its creative and expressive potential. I’d like to change that. I’m building a new type of screen, and I’m going to put the Internet on your wall.

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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