The Rise of Paranoia Apps

The NSA’s tapping our phones, kids aren’t safe in their own schools, and there’s a sex offender on every block. Welcome to the age of paranoia. Being afraid of risk, illness, and threats to personal safety are certainly not new phenomena, but these days fear seems to have reached a fever pitch; and technology has given a new twist to terror. Today, there seems to be an app for every fear that we might have.

While these apps and tools like them may help alleviate fears in some ways, they are likely to only amplify them in others. Like the constant media attention given to fear-mongering stories in the last two decades has made Millennials feel they are almost always at risk, the constant presence of apps like these could make users feel like the world is a more dangerous place than it actually is. Our Q&A with “America’s Worst Mom” Lenore Skanezy, and look at some of the hypotheses about the next generation last week both delved into the affect that living in a fear-ruled world might have on post-Millennials. In using paranoia apps, many of which are aimed at keeping children safe and parents’ fears at bay, from a young age, they are potentially being taught that they need these tools in order to safely navigate the world. For young and post-Millennials, connectivity and easy access to information meant to assuage fears might instead serve to increase those fears; which could influence their view of the world. Here’s a look at some of the paranoia apps and tools available now:

 

1. Evado Filip

In 2009, Sten Kirkbak lost his young son Filip in a mall. His son was found quickly, but the panic he felt ultimately led to the invention of Evado Filip, an app to keep parents constantly connected to their kids. This year, the company is premiering their first product: VIVOplay, a small…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is a two-way street of respect and telling the truth.”—Female, 17, WI

One teacher has declared war on homework. A note that has gone viral on Facebook and Reddit outlines a teacher’s new policy that homework will be limited to the work that students did not complete during the school day. They explain, “Research had been unable to prove that homework improves student performance, Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eating dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.” Schools in Massachusetts have also adopted a “no homework” policy, signifying the start of a larger trend. (Mashable

Adidas is winning out with young consumers of all ages in China. According to RTG Consulting Group’s brand relevance report, Chinese Millennials and teens agree on similar brands as the most relevant in the apparel and footwear industry. Adidas came in first for both groups, for its products and social media strategy, and Zara, Uniqlo, and Nike followed. The least relevant fashion brand was H&M for Millennials, and Converse for teens. (Sourcing Journal

Game developer Blizzard is using the Broken Windows Theory—the idea that disorder breeds more disorder—in its war with cyber bullying. For its team-based shooter game Overwatch, Blizzard has implemented a chatbot to keep an eye out for negative phrases and turn them into “charming, self-effacing statements.” For example, “gg ez,” a commonly used phrase to let opponents know that victory was too easy, is automatically turned into phrases like "I'm wrestling with some insecurity issues in my life but thank you all for playing with me." The developer hopes that by hiding toxic behaviors, others won’t be encouraged to do the same. (Motherboard

Millennials are more likely than Boomers to marry someone with a different approach to finances. A recent TD Ameritrade survey asked respondents to categorize themselves as either savers or as spenders, and found that although more than half of Millennials and Boomers agree that savers being married to savers prevents financial disagreements in a marriage, 66% of Boomer savers are married to other savers, compared to 52% of Millennial savers. The younger generation is also more comfortable with it: only 23% of Millennial savers said they wouldn’t be happy with a spender, versus 40% of Boomers. (Investor’s Business Daily

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, schools should be teaching coding as a second language. Computer programming been shown to help “kids see the world algorithmically, in patterns, and in cause and effect,” and some experts say coding education is crucial for kids to stay competitive. Although the youth of North America are well versed in Snapchat and YouTube language, one media theorist argues: "Unless kids understand how [the platforms they use] ­­are created…they're at a disadvantage to those who do know how to build and take apart these platforms." In the British Columbia province of Canada, students will soon be required to take coding from Grades 6-9. (CBC News)

Quote of the Day: “I follow the news because it’s there and I can't avoid it.”—Female, 28, ME

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