Posts tagged with "Instagram"

An Apple Watch for a five-year-old child? Many parents say yes!

September 2, 2022

lorian Fangohr waffled for about a year over whether to buy an Apple Watch SE as a gift. The smart watch cost $279, and he worried that its recipient would immediately break it or lose it. In May, he decided the benefits outweighed the costs and bought the gadget.

The beneficiary: his eight-year-old son, Felix, reports The New York Times.

Fangohr, a 47-year-old product designer in Seattle, said he was aware that many people were pessimistic about technology’s creep into children’s lives. But “within the framework of the watch, I don’t feel scared,” he said. “I want him to explore.”

Felix, a rising third grader, said he actually wanted a smartphone. “But the watch is still really, really nice,” he said.

Across the United States, parents are increasingly buying Apple Watches and strapping them onto the wrists of children as young as five. The goal: to use the devices as a stopgap cellphone for the kids. With the watch’s cellular abilities, parents can use it to reach and track their children, while the miniature screens mitigate issues like internet addiction.

Children and teenagers appear to have become a disproportionately large market for smart watches. In a 2020 survey of American teenagers by the investment bank Piper Sandler, 31% said they owned a smart watch. That same year, 21% of adults in the United States said they owned one, according to the Pew Research Center.

The use of smart watches as a children’s gadget shows how the audience for a consumer technology product can morph in unexpected ways. It has also given new life to the Apple Watch, which was unveiled in 2015 and has been variously positioned as a fitness tracker, a style statement, or a way to free yourself from an iPhone.

Apple has deliberately turned the watch into a device that can be attractive for children and their parents. In 2020, the company released the Apple Watch SE, which had fewer features than a premium model and was priced $120 cheaper.

Apple also introduced Family Setup, software that enables parents to track their children’s locations, manage their contacts list, and limit their notifications.

The Silicon Valley company’s moves to make the Apple Watch a child-friendly cellphone took about three years, said two people involved with the project, who were not authorized to speak publicly. A chief concern was battery life, since the watch used more power when it functioned independently from an iPhone, they said.

Apple plans to compete more aggressively soon for young smart watch customers. The company’s COO, Jeff Williams, said, “For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, [and help them to]be more active and stay safe.” The company declined to comment on the new watches at its coming event.

Apple does not break out sales of the Apple Watch. To date, there are at least 120 million Apple Watch users—most of them in the United States—according to estimates by Counterpoint Research.

In China and South Korea, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung also have rapidly increased wearable sales among young people.

Any technology used by children raises questions of risks. Social media platforms, in particular, have faced scrutiny in recent years—with lawmakers holding Congressional hearings on the issue in 2021 and homing in on whether sites like Instagram have led to poor self-esteem among teenagers.

But smart watches are inherently limited in their abilities, said Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that reviews media and technology for families. Since smart watches have minimal apps and no web browser or camera, children are less likely to be exposed to distracting games, sexting and other adult content, he said. Not owning a smartphone also encourages children to continue learning how to do things independently, like completing homework assignments without looking up answers online, he said.

“You want to be able to contact them, but you don’t want them spending all day on a screen,” Steyer said.

Jean M. Twenge, who writes books on how tech contributes to generational differences, added that the longer that parents could hold off on providing children with a smartphone—and increased accessibility to social media and other internet wormholes—the better.

Receiving a smartphone later means children “will be older, more mature, and more able to handle the challenges and potential dangers of having their own smartphone,” she commented.

Research contact: @nytimes

His emotional support animal is an alligator. They sleep in the same bed.

August 30, 2022

Joseph Henney’s emotional support animal WallyGator goes with him almost everywhere—from the grocery store to walks in the park. They hug each other and sleep in the same bed. WallyGator is an alligator, reports The Washington Post.

“When he turns his nose toward you, that means he expects a kiss,” said Henney, 69, who goes by Joie (pronounced “Joe”) and lives in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, about two hours from Philadelphia. “He’s super sweet-natured.”

The two watch television together on the couch, and when Henney takes him to the farmers market, WallyGator gives hugs to shoppers—as long as they are okay with being that close to a 70-pound reptile with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.

“Wally is definitely not your average crocodilian,” says Henney, explaining that most people in his community are familiar with his seven-year-old, 5½-foot emotional support alligator.

WallyGator has a following on TikTok and Instagram, and he made headlines on  Friday, August 26, after Henney took him to Love Park in Philadelphia.

“He’s a very special gator, but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get one,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit.”

Henney’s unusual relationship with WallyGator started in 2015, he said, when a friend called from Florida and asked if he could take in a few gators that had been found in a pond in Orlando. Henney makes a living in woodcrafting, but he has always enjoyed caring for reptiles as a pastime, he said.

Alligators are legal to own in Pennsylvania, and Henney has helped relocate unwanted alligators, snakes, and iguanas to wildlife sanctuaries as a hobby for about 30 years. He keeps his rescue reptiles in his home in separate indoor enclosures that he purchased for this purpose. He then finds sanctuaries or zoos that will take them.

He is usually called to rescue alligators when people take in cute baby gators as pets but they inevitably turn into large animals that can be difficult to handle, he explains. They are, after all, a species that has not changed since the time of the dinosaurs.

Henney told his Florida friend that he could take in three juvenile alligators. After a while, he sent two of the gators to reptile refuges in New York and New Jersey, he said.

But Wally stayed behind: “I bonded with him and was committed to caring for him,” says Henney.

“One of the problems when someone gets an alligator for a pet is they don’t realize they’re in for a long haul,” he said, noting that the reptiles can live 80 years or longer in captivity.

They breathe air and generally live in freshwater, but their skin does not need to stay wet for survival. It isn’t common for people to want alligators as pets, though it does happen more than most people realize, he admits.

“When they get to three feet, nobody wants them,” Henney said. “They can bite and they’re extremely hard to handle.”

Wildlife experts agree: Alligators generally don’t make good pets, and they’re illegal to own in many states. “The jaw pressure from an alligator’s bite force is incredibly strong, and their powerful tails can whip you,” adding, “They are also predators who are hardwired to believe that other creatures want to eat them, so they are defensive early on, he said.

“I definitely assume that [Henney] is an exception when it comes to caring for an alligator—he’s done a good job,” Diaz said. “But most people don’t have that kind of time to devote to a pet alligator’s care.”

The large reptiles require a special diet and enrichment such as logs or live plants to hide under; and running or spraying water to thrive under human care. They should never be handled by people who aren’t trained, said Matt Evans, assistant curator of Herpetology at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C.

“If you are interested in working with alligators, volunteer at your local zoo or nature center or get involved with citizen science,” Evans said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

He’s here! Cincinnati Zoo announces the name of adorable newborn hippo

August 22, 2022

On August 3, the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed an adorable male baby hippo. The zoo team held a fan vote to decide on the name for the newest member of the hippo family, and it came down to a decision between Fritz and Ferguson. After over 200,000 votes were cast, the zookeepers happily announced that the chosen name for the hippo is…Fritz, reports My Modern Met.

“We would have been happy with either name, but we really think the name Fritz fits this spunky little guy’s personality,” Cincinnati Zoo’s head hippo keeper, Wendy Rice, says. “We also thought it was funny that it was suggested because ‘Fritz’ is here due to Bibi’s birth control being ‘on the fritz.’

Bibi is a 23-year-old hippo who previously gave birth to a premature baby girl named Fiona, who required human intervention to survive. Due to this, the hippo keepers were nervous about Bibi’s second pregnancy.

Fortunately, all went well, and Fritz was born twice the weight of his sister. Currently two weeks old, he is already walking and exploring his habitat under the supervision of his mom.

“We will continue to expose Fritz to the habitat more and more in the coming days,” Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch, shares. “Once we’re confident that he and Bibi are comfortable in all corners of that space, visitors will get a chance to see them.”

You can keep up with baby Fritz by following the Cincinnati Zoo on Instagram.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Hungry pup on a train is hilariously desperate to get his human’s snack

Augsut 17, 2022

What would you do if you saw this sweet face peering back at you on the train? For ‘pawrent’ Ursula Aitchison, her pup Huxley’s desperation was not enough for her to give up her tasty snack, but it resulted in some adorably hilarious images, reports My Modern Met.

Aitchison recently shared photos of the Golden Retriever realizing that his mom was rudely refraining from sharing her Walker’s brand prawn cocktail-flavored chips—and trying to do something about it. In an image carousel on Instagram, the first photo shows him innocently peering through the narrow view between the train seats.

Then, Huxley uses an innocuous technique: just barely putting his paw through the opening. The following photos showcase a more distraught side, with the pooch shoving his muzzle in the gap, using all his might to get as close as he can. He tries angling his snout closer, then he uses his tongue. Once that proves fruitless, the determined pup bares his teeth and continues to push forward.

This mighty battle of canine versus upholstered seating sadly did not seem to end with a prize of crispy potato goodness, but it did make thousands online smile. Aitchison’s Instagram post has over 10K likes, and seemingly endless comments supporting the pup’s attempts to get closer.

Huxley’s antics recently went viral again on Twitter when four of the stills were posted with the caption, “A story about crisps in 4 parts.” Walker’s crisps ambassador, and former professional footballer, Gary Lineker even re-shared it.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Aitchison’s puppy has gotten such adoration and attention online. Back in 2019, a very similar situation happened on Huxley’s first flight from London to Ibiza. Huxley was seated next to her, until “he got in a mood which he often does when I don’t pay him enough attention,” Aitchison said. He then opted to trade his spot for the empty seat next to a nice man in the row in front of them.

Soon though, she said, “he quickly changed his tune when he heard me eating my crisps.” The images she captured garnered a lot of attention on both Instagram and Facebook.

It seems this golden has had a weak spot for snacks for years now, and the pattern will continue as long as there are moments of boredom on public transportation.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Meet Murph, NERF’s first-ever official mascot

July 21, 2022

Rhode Island-based Hasbro is expanding the NERF team with the brand’s first-ever mascot, named Murph, reports The Toy Insider.

 Made entirely of NERF foam darts from head to toe, Murph personifies the playful spirit that kids can unleash through NERF. Murphy is a natural athlete, an expert at surprise NERF Super Soaker ambushes, and a fantastic trick shooter with any NERF blaster.

 Hasbro is placing Murph in the center of NERF’s new advertising campaign launching this  summer  to drive the new brand mnemonic: “Unleash the Play in You.” The campaign encourages families to get up and get active with NERF and Murph to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

 During the multi-year campaign, fans will begin to see Murph appear more and more, including in stores where NERF toys are available, pop-up surprise moments, and on social media. Stay tuned for Murph’s next moves on NERF’s official social media channels on TikTokInstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

 

Research contact: @TheToyInsider

Shell game: Tiny pet turtle Sergio scoots around house on a speedy set of Hot Wheels

July 19, 2022

Turtles aren’t known for their speediness, but a cute one named Sergio has finally found a foolproof way to get past the hare. In an adorable Instagram reel, the tiny reptile can be seen zooming around his owners’ house on a little Hot Wheels car. And once you see him in action, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the endearing display, reports My Modern Met.

The way Sergio “drives” his car is both simple and ingenious. The turtle manages to attach himself to his “speed racer” by using non-toxic Silly Putty to stick the car to the bottom of his shell. And according to his human Kenny James, it’s one of Sergio’s favorite things to do.

Sometimes the turtle takes his Hot Wheels car for a spin with no hands. And once, he even brought one of his amphibian friends, Tubby the toad, along for a ride.

But when he’s not driving his car, Sergio can often be found taking a dip in his custom pool. What a life.

See Sergio the reptilian speed demon in action on Instagram and TikTok.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Loving dog brings his mom presents while she’s in the shower

June 29, 2020

A dog named Fin misses his mom while she’s in the shower—so, he has devised an interesting strategy to get her attention: He leaves little gifts outside the bathroom door, reports My Modern Met.

Whether he’s giving the gifts selflessly or has an ulterior motive questionable, though. Fin isn’t the biggest fan of his mom taking showers. She’s gone so long, which means there’s less time to play. So, the thoughtful pup came up with an intriguing strategy to get her attention. He began delivering gifts—all kinds of household items—to the bathroom door, in hopes of getting her to open the door again.

“From what my fiancé says, Fin brings a couple items to the door while I’m in the shower to see if any of them will get me to open the door,” says Fin’s mom, Vee Thayer. “Sometimes I’ll open it to find an assortment of items; other times, it’ll just be one thing.”

At first, Thayer was understandably confused. But soon, she came to look forward to the surprise gifts. There’s no way to predict what they’ll be. Some of her favorite things he’s brought her have been duct tape, tongs, shampoo, socks, his dog bed, a bowl of his food, hangers, and a pack of Post-it Notes.

She and Fin even have a little ritual now: “When I open the door, I always say thank you and check out each item. His face is the cutest when the door opens—it’s a mixture of pride and concern, like, ‘Oh jeez, I hope I brought the right thing!’”

Fin is also a very playful pup  and seems to think the right assemblage of items is the key to getting his humans to come back from wherever they’ve gone and play with him instead.

He even has devised another endearing ritual, in the hopes of getting his dad back from work sooner. “When he senses it’s about time for dog dad to get home from work, he’ll sit in a specific spot at the corner of the carpet in our living room and wait,” says Thayer. “The longer the wait, the more toys and items he’ll grab. It’s like he’s trying to find ‘the thing’ that will make his dad walk through the door.”

Fin’s adorable offerings have earned him many appreciative followers on both TikTok and Instagram, and he doesn’t seem to have any plans to stop soon.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Artist folds paper and canvas into expressive faces engaged in passionate kisses

June 17, 2022

For many, learning how to draw a portrait is one of the most challenging goals  they ever will set. Artist Polly Verity, however, manages to render human features without ever reaching for a pencil or paintbrush. Instead, she cleverly folds and creases thick pieces of watercolor paper, canvas, and sometimes wire mesh to create a human visage (or two), reports My Modern Met.

Each of her sculptures interacts with a light source to reveal realistic features, like the nose, nostrils, lips, and eyes that Verity has pinched and smoothed into existence. She makes realistic profiles of individuals as well as portraits of couples kissing one another.

According to My Modern Met, “The beauty of these delicate works of art is in their simplicity.”

Verity begins her process with an ordinary square or rectangular sheet of paper and manipulates the 2D surface until she achieves the desired effect. Instead of relying on another medium to bring her vision to life, Verity harnesses the natural elegance of paper and canvas—letting her work shine when the light hits the folded portrait.

You can purchase original sculptures via Verity’s online shop, and keep up to date on her latest projects and upcoming exhibitions by following the artist on Instagram.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Facebook parent Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down

June 3, 2022

Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from her role as Chief Operating Officer at Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reports CNBC.

Sandberg joined Facebook in early 2008 as the No. 2 to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and helped turn Facebook into an advertising juggernaut—and one of the most powerful companies in the tech industry, with a market cap that topped $1 trillion at one point.

Javier Olivan, the company’s chief growth officer, will take over as COO this fall. Sandberg, who informed Zuckerberg of her decision this past weekend, will continue to serve on Meta’s board of directors.

“Over the next few months, Mark and I will transition my direct reports,” Sandberg said in a lengthy Facebook post discussing stepping down. Meta is also planning an internal reorganization to go along with the change, Zuckerberg said.

“Looking forward, I don’t plan to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure. I’m not sure that would be possible since she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“But even if it were possible, I think Meta has reached the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely integrated, rather than having all the business and operations functions organized separately from our products,” he said.

Meta has come under fire in recent years for its massive influence, its lack of success in stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful material, and its acquisitions of one-time rivals like Instagram and WhatsApp. Zuckerberg and other execs have been forced to testify before Congress multiple times in the last three years, although Sandberg has largely escaped that spotlight. The company currently faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission and could see scrutiny from other agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission after a whistleblower filed a complaint about its efforts to combat hate on its platform.

Speaking with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, Sandberg said the decision to step down will allow her to focus more on her philanthropic work. The move is not because of the company’s regulatory overhang or its current advertising slowdown, she said.

Prior to Facebook, Sandberg served in the Treasury Department of the Clinton Administration; then joined Google in 2001 and helped grow its advertising business.

Research contact: @CNBC

What lies beneath: Long nails may not be as hygienic as you hope

May 4, 2022

Long nails are a major trend these days—seen on the hands of superstars like Cardi B and Billie Eilish. But a biologist warns this new trend may come with health hazards, considering what may be growing underneath.

Jeffrey Kaplan, a biology professor at American University, recently told USA Today that the area under the fingernail in the crevice is where most of the bacteria live.

“The longer the nail, the more surface area there is for microorganisms to adhere,” he said. “Studies have found 32 different bacteria and 28 different fungi underneath fingernails.”

Kaplan said it doesn’t matter if you have long artificial nails, long natural nails, gel nails, acrylic nails, or nail polish, because there is an increased probability of carrying microorganisms which makes it more difficult to decontaminate with handwashing or scrubbing.

One study found MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that causes serious infections in hospitalized patients, underneath half of the fingernail samples collected, according to Kaplan.

Also, some of the bacteria under nails can be found on the skin, like staphylococcus, which can lead to an infection.

“You can transmit fingernail bacteria to your system by scratching, nail-biting, nose-picking, and finger-sucking,” Kaplan said. 

He said the worst thing that could happen from the bacteria and fungi is a nail infection, which would not be life-threatening, but could leave your fingernails disfigured.

That is why most, if not all healthcare workers, are required to wear short nails due to being at risk for transmitting disease, according to Kaplan.

Two nurses at an Oklahoma City hospital may have contributed to the deaths of 16 babies in 1997 and 1998 because of bacteria found underneath their long nails, The New York Times reported.

Epidemiologists found a link between the deaths of the infants in the neonatal unit and the bacteria under the nails but did not prove it was the definite cause.

“When surgeons scrub for surgery and then they test their hands, there’s always bacteria under the fingernail and you can’t get rid of it,” Kaplan said. 

Kayla Newman, a nail tech based in North Carolina, told USA Today that none of her clientele has had infections or “nasty nails” in her eight years of service. “Generally people who have long nails know how to maneuver with them and keep them clean,” she said. “If you’re spending upwards of $60 to get your nails done and you don’t keep them clean, that doesn’t make sense.”

Newman has seen the trend for long nails grow over the last couple of years and social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, showcase artistic designs on nails that can be over two inches long.

Research contact: @USATODAY