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Nomophobia: What Is It and Do You Suffer From It?

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manger

Nomophobia is the very real fear of being without ones phone. 66% of participants in a recent study show genuine fear of being without their mobile devices. Could you be one of those people? What can you do to quell that fear?

It’s not too long ago that we were a nation without cell phones. Pay phones were available on every street corner, and if your child needed to reach you, they would use the school office phone to call you at your work office. Plans were made in advance with friends and were hardly broken, because you simply couldn’t makes changes at the last minute. Some people call these times simpler times, others, the Golden Years. But either way, we’ve come a long way from then.

It’s hard to image a world without cell phones. We look back and ask ourselves how we possibly survived, how we possibly made it from point A to point B without the convenience of 24hr connectivity. For many of us, reverting to this past, once having tasted the fruits of smartphones and all the conveniences that come along with it, is a nightmare. Enter nomophobia.

Nomophobia is the fear of losing or being without one’s phone. According to a recent study, 2 out of every 3 adults suffer from nomophobia. The age category most affected by this disorder is 17-24 year-olds—after all, this is the generation that grew up relying on mobile connectivity.

There are ways to resolve the anxiety that comes along with fear of losing ones phone. First, purchase a phone case that will be impossible to lose, like a bold and brightly colored plastic case. Secondly, stay connected with a phone leash. Finally, give your cell phone a unique ring that you will hear from any room in the house.

It is also good to train oneself to experience a day or a few hours without a cell phone. Give yourself time to disconnect from cell phone use. This not only decreases your imminent need to be constantly connected, but it helps to retrain your brain on the importance of interpersonal connections. Speaking face-to-face with people is not a fad, and it won’t go out of style. So, it might be useful to practice this skill.

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What Is the Appropriate Age for a First Cell Phone?

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manger

In 2004, Lauren turned 18 years old. She drove 30 miles a day, on the highway, to get to school, everyday. She had been doing this drive by herself for two years. She stayed at school late every day, to play sports. On the weekends, when she wasn’t helping her parents around the house, she slept over at friends’ homes. Every summer, she left home to work in a different state, where her only mode of communication with her parents were letters or payphone calls. Her father was a police officer, her mother a social worker in a trauma center. For the life of her, Lauren could not understand why her parents didn’t see fit to get her a cell phone.

Today, most 18 year olds have already had a cell phone for almost half of their lives. Most parents would say that Lauren is certainly a valid candidate for a cell phone. But that’s today. 2004 was almost a decade ago and so much has changed in those few years. Mentalities have changed as well. So we must ask ourselves, what age is appropriate for a child’s first cell phone?

There are several things to consider when making the decision to purchase your child’s first cell phone:

Is your child ever without adult supervision? If he walks home from school alone or goes out on the weekends to the mall with friends, it might be best to give in with a phone. However, if your child is still young enough that you can contact the school, parent, or sibling in order to reach him, hold off.

Why does your child need the phone? Is it to be able to connect with you in case of an emergency? Or are you going to consider this his own line?

What capabilities will this phone have? This again depends on how your child will use the phone. But if you just want to be able to contact your son or daughter in the event of an emergency, hold off on getting them a smart phone and settle for a much less expensive conventional phone with calling and maybe texting capabilities.

Before making any purchase, talk to your child about your expectations of him having a phone. What hours can the phone be used during and what can it be used for? How many minutes or texts can they use? What are the consequences of breaking these rules?

Today, 11 years old is not too young for a cell phone. But making this purchase will required parenting and guidance on your part. Remember, older generations only just adopted the cell phone. To parents, a cell phone is a luxury. But for younger generations who grew up with phones, it has become a necessity.


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Protecting Your Tablet From Theft

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

Tablet use has increased since PC companies have come up with their own versions of the iPad. As usage increases, so does tablet value and likelihood of theft. Here are some ways to protect your tablet from theft.

As the value of the iPads and tablets increases, so does the theft rate. People are scrambling to get their hands on these electronic devices, regardless of the cost. In many cases, the data acquired from this type of theft is far more valuable what one would acquire from a pick-pocketing. Consider, by stealing someone’s wallet, a thief can get access to a limited credit card and of course, cash. By stealing a tablet, one can get passwords and access to bank account information—jackpot.

Because so many people use their tablets for private (and even work related) financial transactions, it’s important to protect your data. Here are some ways to do that:

Store your tablet in a case. This not only protects your tablet from the elements, but it also hides your device from peering eyes. Thieves are far less likely to notice a case then they are to notice a pricey electronic device.

Use a counter mount or kickstand. By connecting your tablet to the platform that you are using it on (desktop, tabletop, wall) you make it far more difficult for thieves to grab it and run.

Never leave your tablet visible if you are not around. Even if you only plan on leaving your car for a few minutes, take your tablet with you. Not only will thieves take your device, but they will break into your car while attempting to do it.

Get Direct z Connected. The Direct z Connect is a chain that attaches directly to your tablet, utilizing an adhesive that can carry up to 100 pounds. By tethering your tablet to your bag or person, you’ve made it virtually impossible for others to steal it from you.

Our personal items are valuable, more so when they connect us to private information. Stay connected and make sure your tablet stays out of the wrong hands.

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Stop Calling Me: How to Block Calls

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

Not every phone call is one you want to answer. Here is how you can block your calls.

Consider all the numbers in your digital phone book. How many do you really use? Now consider that just as many people have you in their phones too. It’s incredible that you’re phone isn’t ringing off the hook!

Have you ever given someone your phone number, only to then regret your poor judgment? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. We’ve all been in a situation where for whatever reason, we have become the object of someone’s telephonic affection. And the phone calls don’t stop until we do something about it. Here are some options for blocking calls.

Ask. The first step in making yourself unreachable is to first request that the person on the other end doesn’t call you again. This is the best approach to use when you get called by companies and organizations that you have no affiliation with. Usually, they respond well when you ask them to remove your number from their calling list.

Contact your phone company. Most phone companies have options for blocking unwanted calls. You just have to tell them the number you want to block, and they make sure you become unreachable for that person. Usually, there is a small fee associated with this service (no more than $5 per month). So you’ll want to consider removing the block after a few months, if the person calling you got the hint, so that you don’t have to continue paying the fee.

Get creative. If you don’t want to confront your dialer and ask them to stop, and can’t justify spending money every month to block their calls, try altering their names in your phone book. For example, put their name in your phone backwards (“Eric” becomes “Cire”) so that you won’t rush to call them in a moment of weakness. You can also simply put them in your phonebook as “No” or “Do Not Answer”. This makes it clear to you and anyone else who handles your phone that the call is not to be received.

At first, it’s flattering when we become the object of someone’s dialing affection. But eventually, the game gets old. And we become sick of playing it. Stop the calls before you get to that point.

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Back That Phone Up

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

If you have photos, contact numbers, emails, and passwords for your bank accounts on your phone, you’ll naturally want to protect them. Here are the many ways you can back up your data in the event of phone loss or theft.


Phones today are like small computers. We use them for everything—work and play. And we’ve come to a place in history where we simply refuse to survive without our mobile devices.

Because all of our important data is stored on our computers, we are constantly backing up our electronic files. The best way to describe what “backing up” a device means is to compare it to photocopying. When you back up a device, you essentially save a copy of all your work so that you have a spare if/when your device gets lost, breaks, or no longer becomes available to you.

Because phones are used today in the same way that computers are used and for the same purposes, it goes without saying that our phone data should be backed up as well. Few people think to back up their phone data, and only realize the error of not doing so once they lose their phones or switch to new ones. One might go as far as saying that backing up a phone is even more important than backing up a computer because all of ones contact information is saved on their phones. So yes, this is certainly an important service and a necessary application.

There are a number of ways to back up your phone data. For conventional phones (ones without Internet capabilities), you wont be able to store more than contact information on your mobile device. Back up your contact information by saving it onto a SIM (subscriber identity module) card. This way, when you switch phones, you can just remove the card and put it into your new phone, where all your contacts will be waiting. You can ask you carrier about backing up the information on your SIM in the event that your phone is lost.

Smartphones have more data to store (like photos, emails, documents, presentations, and applications), so there are more back up options. All iPhone data is easily backed up on the iCloud. The iCloud is a storage software created by Apple, that allows you to wirelessly store all your data, from any device. The easiest way to do this is to plug your iPhone into your computer, open iTunes, click on the iPhone device, and click “Back Up”.

Other smartphones use an Android operating system, which is powered by Google. There are several ways to back up Android data. One way is to download or purchase an app that allows you to save all your data on a cloud (like the iCloud, but for Androids). You can also specify when and how often you want your app to automatically back up your phones data.

Alternatively, you can download Dropbox onto your computer and phone. Dropbox is another cloud storage device that allows you to save your data on your phone and computer, and makes the data from both devices accessible on any Internet capable machine you use.

Backing up your data takes minutes. Having to recover lost data can take a lifetime, if you are able to get all that data back. Don’t underestimate how important your phone data is—after all, you do use it every day and rely on it for some of the most important tasks. Take the extra minutes to make sure your information is always accessible to you.

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Parental Controls and Your Child’s Cell Phone

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

Everything about the cell phone has evolved over the past 20 years, including its price, capabilities, and who uses it. Today, children need cell phones. But do they know how to stay out of trouble with it.

Children today need cell phones—there is no question about it. They need to be able to stay in touch with their parents in the event of an emergency. And every parent can appreciate the peace of mind he/she will experience knowing that their son/daughter is safe.

However, as the mobile phone market expands, so do your cell phone capabilities. For the purposes of emergency calls, a conventional cell phone limited to sending and receiving calls and/or texting should suffice. This eliminates many distractions like websites, online videos, or data sharing. Parents can consider usage controls for this type of simple phone.

Usage controls allows parents to limit what hours during the day a phone can be used, how often, and by whom. For example, a parent can turn off incoming calls and texting ability during school hours and block certain numbers, disabling certain people from contacting your child.

If you do plan on purchasing a smartphone (mobile phone with internet capabilities) for your child, there are more parental control options available (probably because there are so many ways to get in trouble).

Parental control options on smartphones are similar to the ones you would find on your home computer, mostly because the two devices work in the same way. Content filters allow you to limit what types of websites your child can access from his mobile device. However, your child will likely still be able to gain access to certain content through text messages and emails.

Location tracking and monitoring controls are built in GPS systems that allow you to see where your child is at all times as long as the phone is turned on. You can also elect to receive an alert on your phone when your child moves outside of a predetermined region.

But be careful what you wish for. With each control, there is a consequence. For example, by enabling a usage control, you limit your child’s ability to call you if there is a true emergency. If you enable a content filter, your child will certainly find other ways to access the internet—at least if he/she does it from their phone, you can review their searches. If your phone has GPS, your child might go out of their way to leave the phone somewhere, while going to a place you don’t want them to be. Without their phone, you can’t contact them.

The best approach to cell phone safety is to talk with your son or daughter about using their cell phone. Establish limits and revisit them as circumstances change. This also gives you the opportunity to speak with your child and bond over important issues like their safety.

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Listening To Our Customers: The Z-coil

In October of 2012, we were approached with a request to create a product suitable for a child with autism. Thus evolved the Z-coil.

Message from a customer:

“I have an autistic grandson that I would like to see if this will work for him to manage a cell phone and another device that is a reading pen. Do you have any recommendations regarding my thoughts on the use of this for a 13-year-old that manages to misplace things? Thank you.”

This message resonated with us, and we put our heads together to think of the practical ways in which this grandmother and child would want to use our products. The Z-connector is the product that we are best known for. For most people, the Z-connector is a logical choice. Its long, durable chain protects cell phones from theft or loss. However, in this case, we wanted to go in a slightly different direction.

First, we wanted something that would essentially stay out of this child’s way, with no dangling cords or other distracting components. Secondly, we felt that a short but strong, expandable lanyard would best suit an active child. We also considered our choices of materials.

Kevlar is a military-strength light-weight synthetic fiber with a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it much stronger than steel. Because it is durable and malleable, Kevlar is used for a number of versatile products including boat sails, bicycle tires, cables, cooking equipment, smartphones, and body armor.

Our new Z-coil phone leash is a silicon-coated Kevlar coil that, unlike most plastic connectors, will not break. The short coil allows it to remain inconspicuous and tucked away. Like the Z-connector, the Z-coil keeps your phone or electronic device tethered to your clothing or a bag.

The Z-connector is a fashionable accessory, but, first and foremost, it was created for security and functional purposes, by a mother for her son. We hope we have served this grandmother and child well, and we always welcome feedback, suggestions, and queries from our customers. Please contact us at at any time.

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Comparing Phones

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

A concise review of both the iPhone and the Droid, for those of us who are not technologically savvy.

Gertrude Stein, 19th century writer and poet, once said, “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” It is always incredible to see how even when times change, sentiments remain the same. Yes—now, more than ever, we are bombarded by information. We receive email updates, automated messages, breaking news, financial figures, and photographs from across the globe, all within seconds of one another, and all in the palm of our hands. How can we make sense of all this information?

In an effort to help you retain your common sense, here are some facts that will be useful to you in deciding which medium to use when collecting your daily updates: iPhone or Droid?

It is a question that today seems as old as the Bible itself. The irony in this is that both the iPhone and the Droid have only been around since 2007, yet their technologies have evolved so much since then that we are constantly required to learn about both.

To be clear, the iPhone itself is a type of smartphone that can be used for a limited number of carriers (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon), unless you get an unlocked version. It’s operating system is run by Apple, like all Mac products and computers. The Droid (short for Android) is actually the name of the operating system powered by Google used to manage most other smartphones. There are many types of smartphones that use this operating system, including the Samsung Galaxy, HTC, Motorola, and many others. For the purposes of this comparison, we will refer to all smartphones that are not iPhones as Droids—much like a Mac vs. PC debate.

The main difference between the iPhone and other smartphones is their operating system. iPhone uses the Apple operating system (iOS) whereas most other smartphones run on the Android operating system mentioned above. Because the Android operating system runs on so many different smartphones, customers have their pick of which phone is right for them, whereas iPhones are limited to, well, iPhones. In addition, the battery life in a smartphone is usually longer than that of the iPhone. Furthermore, the most recent iPhone5 has a 4-inch display whereas newer Droids have 5-inch and larger displays. And finally, not all carriers are compatible with a locked iPhone where there is a smartphone specific to each cell phone service.

Otherwise, both phones can be purchased for approximately the same price. All of one’s data is easily accessible through both phones. Both phones have fast Internet capabilities and have excellent cameras. Furthermore, most apps are available on each, although iPhones only allow for the use of approved Apple apps.

Choosing a phone doesn’t have to be a daunting task, as long as you know what you are looking for. Both phones’ software is updated regularly and both have had their highs and lows with user experience. It all comes down to what you are more comfortable with? If you are an Apple person, get the iPhone. If not, then a Droid might be your better bet.

Either way, you’ll still be connected.

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Is An Unlocked Cell Phone Right For You?

*Click image to enlarge.

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

What is an unlocked phone and is it worth your investment?

There are many options to choose from when deciding on a cell phone. Are you an iPhone person? Would you benefit instead from a Droid? Or is a simple flip-phone the right choice for you?

Within these options, there is one feature that is offered on most smartphones that is often misunderstood: the unlocked phone. An unlocked is a phone that can be used for more than one SIM card and therefore, multiple carriers.

A SIM card (subscriber identification module) is the removable chip inside your phone that stores personal data like contact information and downloads. Ideally, data from your phone can be transferred to another phone via this SIM card. Typically, a SIM card is specific to one’s phone carrier. For example, T-Mobile SIM cards will not register on phones that were not purchased through T-Mobile.

Unlocked phones are unique in that they can read SIM cards from multiple carriers. Therefore, if your phone was purchased through Verizon but is unlocked, you can later use a Sprint SIM card if you decide to change carriers. This eliminates the need to purchase a new phone in addition to paying the cost of changing carriers.

Although an unlocked phone is convenient, there is one major deterrent to making this purchase—the cost. Unlocked phones are significantly more expensive than any other phone. Consider the iPhone5 for example. The least expensive version of the iPhone5, direct from Apple, is the 16GB2, which starts at $199. This phone is available for the following carriers: Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. Anyone who wishes to use an iPhone5 and does not subscribe to one of the aforementioned carriers will need to purchase an unlocked iPhone5, which starts at $649.

Although the price tag is high, there are several benefits to purchasing an unlocked phone. For those who switch cell phone carriers often, an unlocked phone will allow you to transfer data easily and seamlessly. More importantly, travelers who find themselves living or working out of the country regularly will certainly want to invest in an unlocked phone– this will allow your phone to work with the SIM card you are given during your travels, and can often be cheaper than renting a smartphone.

Furthermore, unlocked phones can be purchased online and through various retailers, for a smaller price tag. However, they will always be more expensive than the “locked” version of your phone. And finally, anyone with an unlocked phone can attest to the fact that the benefits of being able to transition between SIM cards without having to lose all of your phone’s stored data can be well worth the cost.

Before purchasing a mobile phone, make sure you know what options are available. Unlocked phones are a relatively unknown convenience that can make an incredible difference in one’s travels or work practices. Is this an investment you think is right for you?


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Connected But Disconnected

By: Jessica Hochstadt, MS, Social Media Community Manager

Staying connected has become easier throughout the years, but have our connections improved. What changed and how did we get here?

Up until the last two decades, staying connected was a chore. Letters, once beautiful treasures, have become obsolete. Phone calls that could last for hours are now reduced to a simple text. Yes, our current methods of communication are easier. But, are these changes an improvement? In becoming so connected, have we somehow also become disconnected?

Letter writing was and still is an art. To take the time to sit down and write a letter to someone, seal it with a kiss, and maybe even spray some perfume on your note, was a surefire way to let the receiver know that you cared. Can an email really capture that same sentiment? One could argue that with the ability to insert digital images and emoticons between text, emailing is simply an improved way of sending someone a note.

When the phone was invented and usage grew, families and friends had the privilege of speaking to their loved ones and hearing their voices after a long work day. Once cell phones became popular, staying connected became a 24/7 possibility. Some might even say that it became a bother. The idea of disconnecting on a regular basis has become more popular. And as text messaging became included in our phone plans, our conversations became shorter, and less curious. We don’t ask about someone else’s day—we just want them to answer our questions, now.

Social networks give us the opportunity to grow our communities. But given the number of people we can reach out to, how many can we actually call upon if we need assistance? Skype and FaceTime allow us to see the people we communicate with in real time, but we can’t touch them, we can’t hug them, and we certainly can’t physically connect.

So, what is the verdict? Are these new connections and improvement, or have we lost something in the transition?

Essentially, times change, and we certainly can not and do not want to put a hold on innovation. These new technologies were created to improve our lives. They are meant for us to be able to interact with more people and stay connected. The connections that really matter though—your friends, families, and loved ones— still require the extra effort. Time will never change this. And a letter to these people will never become obsolete—it still means you care and that they are more important to you than your thousands of online connections.

We should certainly celebrate the ease with which we can now connect, but don’t throw the pen and stationary away just yet.

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