Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tech Column: When Adults Create Tech for Younger People

by Bill Adler

Sometimes adults can create amazing things for younger people, including toddlers and even teens. Maurice Sendak, who died today, made the enduring and incredible world of Where the Wild Things Are. Lego has endured for eons, despite its being as un-tech as things can get. And Etch-A-Sketch endures forever.

Two new creations caught my eye recently. One is among the oddest ideas ever; the other is brilliant.

First, the odd: Hashtagmom, www.hashtagmom.com, you add the hashtag, #mom, to your Fourquare check-in. Hashtagmom will text or read your Foursquare message to your mother, letting her know that you've arrived at your destination. (You register your mother's cell phone number when you sign up.)

When you check in at a restaurant or your local supermarket --as you become closer to your goal of being "mayor" of that locale-- you can let your mother know that you're alive and well at the same time. Just by adding "#mom." Because all mothers love to be informed by a computerized voice about their kid's life, just as all mothers would love to be called by their adult child's office assistant to say, "Hello, Ms. Smith. Your son asked me to call you and tell you he's having a fine Italian restaurant for lunch."

Nothing says "I don't want you to worry, Mom" quite like being copied on a Foursquare check-in.

A tip: If you use Hashtagmom, remember *not* to add #mom to your 2am last-call check-in at your local bar.

Now the brilliant idea: So you think you can text and drive a car at the same time? In Belgium they came up with the idea of making kids prove they can multitask while behind the wheel. (This isn't actually part of the official Belgian road test; it was a one-time demonstration.) Watch what happens when teenagers are told that they *have to* text while driving in order to get their driver's license: http://bit.ly/IHKF0U. I've seen many anti-texting public service videos, but this is by far the most creative approach to breaking the texting-while-driving habit.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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