Monday, December 29, 2008

You Aren't Going Steady Until Facebook Says You Are

One of the key features of Facebook is the relationship status indicator. Mine is set to married and I don’t plan on ever changing it! However, among the high school and college crowd, changing that indicator from single to in a relationship is a big deal. It’s the 2007 equivalent of giving your girlfriend your class ring. Facebook is how kids today announce to the world that they are either taken or on the market. I’ll give the kids this. It’s certainly cheaper than handing over a $200 ring or $100 jacket that you may not get back if you really piss her off in the breakup!

It gets more complicated though. In order to couple yourself to another Facebook member, both parties much confirm. So connecting yourself romantically to a girl only to have her reject it is the Facebook equivalent of not having your ring accepted. Other dangers would include having your date for this weekend see that you are listed as in a relationship with somebody else, or listing yourself as single when your date has other ideas about your availability. It’s certainly a lot more complicated these days. However, I can see how the transparency of being expected to maintain that status on a global network would promote a certain level of honesty in the dating game. In fact, had Facebook existed when I was in college, my first date with my wife may have never happened. It would have depended on her willingness to be the other woman. However, that story really doesn’t need to be repeated here!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The XBox 360 - Now with Built-In Egg-Timer

Microsoft has announced the availability of a built in timer for Xbox Live that will give parents a way to enforce video game usage without actually dealing with the kids.

A similar Microsoft survey conducted in the United States last month found that 62 percent of parents say they would use a timer if it were available to help them manage their children’s interactive entertainment use.

62% of parents can’t deal with their kids video game time without the help of a software tool from Microsoft? That’s just sad. If your kid can’t get off the Xbox when you tell him to then he is obviously not mature enough to have an Xbox in the first place. However, in today’s guilt laden word of permissive parenting, few parents actually have the backbone to make that call.

So they rely on Microsoft instead.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are TV Time Control Devices a Good Thing?

Phil at A Family Runs Through It has an interesting post up about his experience with Bob, a TV and computer screen time controller. It is an electronic device that once plugged in between the device and the power, can control use time for up to six people. The idea is that if junior is spending a little too much time on the TV or PC, Bob will electronically control whatever time limits you set. I’m not a fan of these devices.

First, I don’t see why any parent can’t handle this conflict without paying for Bob. I could see the utility if the kids are home alone after school each day and you want to keep them offline. That could be useful. However misdirecting the source of conflict to the inanimate object doesn’t seem that useful to me. The disagreement about screen time still exists. Phil says as much in his post. The kids haven’t accepted his view of how much screen time they should have. They have given up arguing because Bob doesn’t listen.

More importantly, the whole idea of teaching kids that an electronic device is in control is way too 1984ish for me. It probably would not have helped sales if they had named this thing HAL, but that is exactly what I thought of when I read Phil’s blog post. If I put one of those things in my house (just as an experiment) I’d be disappointed if my kids didn’t work together trying to defeat it. Teaching obedience to the black box, even if the black box is a proxy for the the parents, just strikes me as creepy.