Do We Really Need Second Screen Live?

Disney's presenting a play-along second screen

Disney has just announced a new feature to go along with the re-release of “The Little Mermaid” next week.  Children will be invited to bring their iPads to the movie theater and to play interactive games a along with the movie while watching.  Perhaps it’s a great publicity gimmick; perhaps it’s a way to sell more Apple Products; perhaps it reflect a feeling that a simple movie is no longer interesting enough for this new generation of kids who (like their parents) are  addicted to their digital devices.

But I’m not very sanguine that this is a good idea.  We know that people can’t multitask effectively. Anything we do while trying to do something else comes at the expense of the quality of both tasks. A movie offers a rich array of visual and auditory images carefully designed to produce just the right emotional experience at the right tempo. Is Disney ready to abandon the impact they know they can have? No doubt kids will find it amusing to have this second stream of content.  They probably won’t know what they’re missing. But will the next movie seem lame if it’s presented by itself? What about the other people in the theater who are distracted by other kids’ second screens.

Going to the movies can be such an intense and personal experience on its own.  I hope this doesn’t become a trend.

On the other hand, movies like “The Little Mermaid” can be intensely scary for young children.  Maybe Disney could build in an app that purposely distracts kids during the scary parts or allows them to  access a reassuring therapist before they’re so traumatized they’ll have nightmares ;-)


The Creative Wisdom of Louis C. K.


I found this in the current issue of Rolling Stone, in an interview with comedian Louis C. K.
“When you sit down to write “Louie,” what are your work habits?
Louis (slightly edited for family content): When it’s time to write, I have one computer that has no ability to get on the Internet. Because the ability to just…


The Boston Bombings: 5 Things Parents Should Know


Since I’ve been getting repeated calls from the media asking for expert advice to help parents comfort their kids, here’s my advice in a nutshell:
Advice for parents to help their kids cope with the Boston bombings
1) Turn off the TV!!!
News stories like this are especially frightening to children. They raise issues of their own personal…


Want Innovation? Ditch the Radio

woman driving and changing radio station

In last week’s New York Times Sunday Review section, there’s an interview with J. B. Straubel, founder of Tesla Motors, which makes electric vehicles.  According to the introduction, some people compare the companyto Apple in terms of “obsessive attention to design, intuitive user interface and expense.” Obviously, Mr. Straubel is a great thinker and innovator.


Exercise Your Brain By Ditching Your Gadgets

Troubled with Questions

I went to a bar to play team trivia with my family last week.  It was extremely fun but also eye-opening.  It’s not that I discovered how much I didn’t know – I already was aware of that.  But what kept hitting me in the face was how often I started to reach for my…


Productivity vs. Digital Etiquette

Angry businessman

A recent New York Times article by Nick Bilton discussed an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  How do we hit just the right note interpersonally as most of our communications go digital?
Should we call, leave a voice message, send an email, or a text? Or bother with a face-to-face meeting?  There’s the need…


What Can We Learn from the National Day of Unplugging?

Little Girl Holding Power Cords

I was very interested when I heard about the National Day of Unplugging (sunset February 28  to sunset March 1).  Since conquering cyberoverload is all about becoming the master and not the slave of our gadgets, I thought I should give it a try. But it wasn’t the easiest day for me to try to…


Media Violence IS Part of the Problem

violence in tv

Recent debates over the surge in horrific tragedies involving gun violence have rekindled the debate over media violence effects. Clearly, there are multiple contributors to the problem, especially the easy availability of guns, including assault-style weapons. But media violence is part of the problem, too, and neither of these influences should be ignored. Because I’ve …


Must We Turn Off Our Kindles on the Plane?

passeggero d'areo

Once you move to an e-reader, as I have, you’re bothered by the fact that you have to give it up for two relatively short periods of time—during airplane take-offs and landings. We’ve been told for years that anything with an on-off switch can interfere with the plane’s navigation system.
An article in the New York…


Is a Real Vacation Even Possible Anymore?

surfing on the beach. Laptop display is cut with clipping path

Now that we have these wonderful gadgets that allow us to stay connected at all times, most of us never seem to be able to truly get away.  No matter how far we go, we can usually be reached on our cell phones, and with our Smartphones we’re tempted to log in to see what’s…