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Bud Freund of API: “Put simply, technology use, like alcohol or drugs, can be addictive”

The ability to afford the latest gadget, gizmo or widget has absolutely no bearing on the owner’s ability to use or understand it. Making a difference between my iPhone and Warren Buffet’s being whether he knows how to turn off location services to extend the battery life. As a part of my series about 5 Ways […]

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The ability to afford the latest gadget, gizmo or widget has absolutely no bearing on the owner’s ability to use or understand it. Making a difference between my iPhone and Warren Buffet’s being whether he knows how to turn off location services to extend the battery life.


As a part of my series about 5 Ways To Create a Healthy Relationship With Screens and Technology, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bud Freund.

Bud Freund has been self employed for over 40 years. After graduating from Ithaca College, his national and international photography assignments were from corporate, magazine and public relations clients. He migrated into digital imaging and has been providing IT solutions to homes and small businesses for over 20 years. He has taught Technology Life Skills at King School and managed the Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy network. As a Certified SCORE Mentor, he regularly presents technology webinars. His workshops have been run at libraries throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?

For about 20 years, I worked as a photographer shooting people, products and architecture for ad agencies, PR firms, designers and corporations. I was inspired to capture “decisive moments” from a book my brother had, “The World of Henri Cartier-Bresson”.

Then the world moved from film to file and I got the digital imaging bug. My viewfinder (computer monitor) got larger, and my gratification more instantaneous. For several years, I worked in multimedia, but eventually found that there were far more computers to repair than PowerPoints to create. I had good mentors, and like many others, lots of trial-by-fire / on-the-job trainingconfiguring HIPAA-compliantnetworks and workstations for local medical practices. Today, I still solve tech problems for small businesses and teach technology life-skills at a local school.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Over 25 years in technology, that’s a tall order. Since starting to teach technology life skills, I would have to say it was the class I did with 5th graders. At a comparable age, I knew NOTHING. These kids were sharp, and worldly; “products” of a digital world. They had great answers and great questions.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

I have several things “in the hopper” right now.

The first is an ongoing bibliography that I compile; https://techandparents.wordpress.com/tech/ .

This is a list of 142 articles (and growing) that have 2 things in common. . .

  1. They all address some aspect of the risks and dangers of minors and technology.
  2. None state the fact that a minor cannot enter into a legally binding contract; only their parent or guardian — which places the responsibility and liability on us. . . and if you think that’s a bunch of “hogwash”, consider underage drinking in your home or the town of Shawano, Wisconsin’s bullying law.

The second project, I’ve had in development for several years is https://ptotechfundraiser.com — a website that can provide much needed tech education for parents and funding for schools.

The third is that I volunteer at Fairfield County SCORE where I am on the chapter’s tech team. The webinars that we produce are about many different small business topics and can be found at. . .

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcsIYPTzkAZZSVtogJGD1Eg

Creatively, I make these images I call, Equivalents, on my mobile devices.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?

First of all, I consider these devices we use as the “Everything Thing”; and in our current quarantine situation, it’s hard not to be heavily engaged. It’s communication — written, visual and verbal. It’s billing, bank and investing. It’s research, recreation, shopping, education and inexplicably, binge-watching cats on YouTube. So depending on the information you get, a full range of emotions can ensue. Stocks go up or you get that job offer, jubilation. Social media bullying or job termination, depression.

Physiologically, since we’re not standing fully erect, but instead somewhat hunched over looking down at our mobile devices, our necks are supporting extra weight, so we’re growing “extra-strong” neck bones.

https://www.livescience.com/65711-humans-growing-bony-skull-spikes.html

Additionally, studies are now being conducted about “Phantom Vibration Syndrome”; thinking your phone is vibrating when it isn’t.

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20160111/phones-phantom-vibration

Also, there are studies showing direct correlations between cell phone use and dopamine “pings”.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/

Put simply, technology use, like alcohol or drugs, can be addictive.

Finally, too much screen time can affect your vision. We blink less when we stare at computer screens. This dries our eyes and can result in blurry vision.

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/eye-health/is-screen-time-making-your-eyes-dry

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

What a double-edged sword! The device we’re trying to regulate / monitor / control / manage / pick-your-verb is our gateway to the information we need and use constantly. Here goes. . .

  1. Separate — Tear yourself away from your phone; especially during “family time”. Most of us who remember rotary dial phones, don’t recall seeing them on the dinner table and Mom or Dad waiting with baited breath for a call.
  2. Self discipline — Just like too much candy or ice cream, there’s a point where your will power needs to say, “Take a break.”
  3. Slow down — Every text and email does not require an IMMEDIATE response. “Delay of game” gives you time to think about your reply and more importantly, manages expectations (“He ALWAYS replies immediately. Something must be wrong.”).
  4. Speak courteously — Recent events have shown us too many times that what you post online can have serious and damaging effects on you, your relationships and your business. I tell students to speak online as if they were talking to their grandparents. Put differently, if you don’t want to see it on the front page of your local newspaper, don’t put it online.
  5. Suspect — At my lectures and in my classes, I encourage people to have a healthy skepticism about what they see online. Too often outrageous reactions are the result of outrageous (and untrue) claims.

Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?

It’s hard to do, but walk away. When social media becomes too UNsocial, take a break. uninstall the app-of-irritation, unfriend or stop following that nudnik. Step out of the fray and get away from the noise. The Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma”, explains how social media uses persuasive design, notifications (A lot has happened since you last logged in — SO WHAT? Don’t care!) and FOMO (fear of missing out) to keep us attached and engaged. And yes, it is hard to break away.

About 10 years ago at a parent coffee, the head of King’s Upper School, Marnie Sadlowsky, made a statement that has stuck with me. . . “Unless you’re planning to go to college with your child, they are going to have to set their own boundaries and find their own way.”

As parents, one way we can help them figure it out is by keeping technology in public places and not in bedrooms (especially when it’s time to go to sleep). More importantly, we need to set the example that we want our children to emulate. Keep your phone away from the dinner table and make the meal a family time. If you’re on your phone constantly, the “message” you send to your children is that it’s OK — and it’s not.

Another strategy I suggest is to have your children write their passwords on an index card and put it in a sealed envelope. This creates a pact. As parent, it provides access IF. . . IF needed. As family member, it shows a respect for their privacy. Here are the caveats. . . It is important for family members to understand that if there is a problem you will open the envelope and solve it TOGETHER and if the passwords in the envelope don’t work, the problem that everyone thought they were going to solve will be nowhere near as big as the problem that was just created from the bogus passwords.

80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?

Unfortunately, I admit to coffee, reading the news and chatting with my spouse before toothbrushing, so I’m not a very good example. With that said, everyone’s “relationship” with their Everything Thing is different. However, consider getting yourself together before engaging with the world. In other words, showering, breakfast, news headlines, getting dressed and tooth brushing may be better things to do before early morning re-engaging in emails and texts.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

For many years, I have been asking audiences to tell me which of these technology truths are wrong. . .

1. The people with the gray hair and ulcers that qualify them to drive the bus — and it doesn’t matter if they’re in a trade, retail, hospitality, finance, medicine, education, politics, media; doesn’t make a difference — they didn’t grow up with the stuff they’re being asked to make decisions about. In other words, the road ahead may not be clear.

2. The ability to afford the latest gadget, gizmo or widget has absolutely no bearing on the owner’s ability to use or understand it. Making a difference between my iPhone and Warren Buffet’s being whether he knows how to turn off location services to extend the battery life.

3. Neither owners nor leaders will disclose what they don’t know until their persona and / or digital footprint results in something like the sexting of Anthony Weiner, the emails of Don Jr., Ivanka and Hillary, or Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram shutting down accounts because of potential public danger. Put differently, while we do have freedom of speech, we do not have freedom from consequence and as we’ve recently seen, social media postings can be costly to your business and our world.

4. If you touch technology — whether you love it or hate it — you are committed to a lifetime of learning because it is constantly changing and nobody can know it all.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Once upon a time in America, you could crank-up your car to chase the chickens around your front yard and you didn’t need a driver’s license or insurance.

Once upon a time, you could buy “snake oil” in America and you didn’t need FDA approval or clinical trials.

Once upon a time, you could buy a musket and you didn’t need a permit or a background check.

In each of those cases, the rules, laws, regulations, ordinances (call them whatever you like) changed for the safety and well-being of the general public.

To buy a computer, tablet or smartphone today, you don’t even need cash. You can take your pre-approved credit card, go online, and have it at your doorstep in two days.

So the question becomes whether the rules, laws, regulations, ordinances (call them whatever you like) for the safety and well-being of the general public need to change in regard to computers. Please ask Sony, Target, Home Depot, Experian, JP Morgan Chase and the Democratic Nation Committee — to name just a few — whether they think it might be time for change.

So what I suggest is that it may be time for some kind of “mandatory” technology education. You can’t get a driver’s license today without taking a driver’s test. The ability to afford the latest gadget, gizmo or widget has no bearing on the owner’s ability to use or understand it. As we learn almost daily about what dangerous weapons computers can be — whether bullying in social media, or hacking sensitive data — it seems we need a more “responsible”, global technology community; which comes from education.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

There are several places. . .

https://techandparents.wordpress.com/tech/ — An online bibliography and tech resource for parents

http://budly.live — My website

http://bit.ly/TechAmok — My YouTube Channel

https://saatchiart.com/Budly — My digital images

http://bit.ly/EquivalentsByBudly — Instagram

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