How I learned to love wearables, and why you should too


I’ve always been leery of wearables – those tech devices we wear on our bodies. Sometimes, it just seems a little too much like scary science fiction. That changed when I started using a Fitbit. It’s helping me get more active, and it’s also opening my eyes to the potential of wearables as a tool to improve our emotional and physical well-being.

What is a wearable?

It’s not simply wearable tech, it’s wearable computers. Think smart watch (rather than digital watch) and fitness tracker (rather than pedometer).

According to

“The new age of wearables tap into the connected self – they’re laden with smart sensors, and make use of a web connection, usually using Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your smartphone. They use these sensors to connect to you as a person, and they help you to achieve goals such as staying fit, active, losing weight or being more organised.”

And increasingly, it’s social.

In recent years, tech companies have added social networking applications to their wearables to boost user engagement and sales, reports Fortune.

Take my Fitbit, for example. It shows me how many steps I’ve taken and lets me compare my progress to others in my community. It also allows us to send encouraging messages to each other.

fit bit 2

Social networking through Fitbit is helping to motivate. Fitbit users “who have one or more friends take an average of 700 more steps per day,” says Fortune.

Health benefits

My Fitbit is like my own personal trainer. It beeps at me every half hour telling me I need to get moving. And it congratulates me when I’ve exceeded my daily fitness goal. It monitors my heart beat and tells me how many calories I’ve burned.

fit bit 1

But wearables can do so much more, suggests the New York Times:

“The health applications are enormous. Over the past year, Mr. Rogers and his team of scientists have been working with patients with Parkinson’s disease to monitor their motions, dermatologists to treat skin diseases, and beauty companies like L’Oréal to develop digital stickers that track skin hydration.”

Wearables could also improve health research. In this 2018 study, researchers found that the use of mobile and wearable technologies in health research, particularly the social networking aspect, could “greatly enhance our understanding of adolescent neurodevelopmental and mental and physical health outcomes in youth.”

The future is wearables

The New York Times predicts that “the next era of computing will be wearables.” They’ll be more like tattoos than glasses (Google learned that lesson), and they could be worn on our skin, inside our bodies or as clothing.

If you could invent a wearable to help you achieve a goal (like getting fit, eating better, improving healthcare, or finding new ways to connect with a community), what would it be?

Twitter: How I learned to love wearables, and why you should too.

Facebook: How I learned to love wearables, and why you should too. (Hint: these tiny computers are taking over and experts say that’s going to be good for our health).

[Post by Anne Boys]

To emoji or not to emoji? [With pro tips!]

emojis image for blog

It’s been word of the year and a movie. The emoji has become a social media darling.

“Because emoji aren’t just a silly way to decorate messages. They’re a complex, robust form of digital language—one that continues to evolve,” says Wired, in their Guide To Emoji Etiquette.

But not everyone agrees. I 👍 them, my daughter 👎 them. And we’re not alone. The use of emoji in digital communication is a hot topic amongst social media users, experts and researchers.

The general consensus seems to be:
• For personal communication: good
• For professional communication: bad
• For social marketing: good, but use with care

Personal communication

More than 90% of us use them. Emoji help us express emotions where text cannot, and replace text altogether. This study has quantified the impact, finding that “the time and effort involved in using emojis may help maintain and enhance social relationships.”

Professional communication

Readers’ Digest calls it an absolute “no no” to use emoji at work, such as in an email to the boss. Why? Because it may make you “seem incompetent,” according to this study. And this study shows that emoji can create miscommunication.

Social media marketing

Experts recommend using emoji to promote your business or brand on social media. Social Media Today reports that emoji generate:

  • 25.4% more engagement on Twitter
  • 57% more likes, 33% more comments, and 33% more shares on Facebook

Top five pro tips

Careful and creative use of emoji can help your business stand out on social media:

1. Keep it fun and simple: Use emoji to promote a stress-free product or service (think fast food not funeral services). The good: You can order online by texting a pizza emoji to Domino’s. The bad: Chevrolet’s overly cryptic “crack the code” campaign.
2. Consider the risks and benefits to your brand: Mitigate the risks by knowing your target audience and using in the right place at the right time.
3. Learn and follow the ever changing rules of emoji etiquette: For example, Reader’s Digest reminds us that used in a list, “order matters” – “we weep first and then we have a broken heart.” And when writing about them, remember “emoji” is both singular and plural (though you can also say “emojis” because the usage is evolving).
4. Avoid miscommunication: Use emojipedia to find the best emoji (and what it means) to promote your message and your brand. For example, you may want to think twice before using the peach, unless you’re actually selling peaches!
5. Don’t go it alone: Learn how other businesses have successfully used emoji in their social media campaigns.

How to use:


How not to use:

chevrolet emoji

The emoji isn’t going anywhere. You can even submit a request for the creation of a new emoji.

I think that’s a good thing. I love that we are creating a new language – and a non-text based one at that (great if you’ve got a reading disability).

Do you love or hate emoji? Do you use them at work, just with friends, or both?

Facebook: To emoji or not to emoji? [With pro tips!]
Twitter: To emoji or not to emoji? [With pro tips!]

[Post by Anne Boys]

Misleading headlines are coming to eat your brain!


Writing engaging headlines is a must on social media. Given all the information people have to choose from in the digital age, we want them to read, share and “like” our content.

My headline, sadly, is an example of how you should not write a headline. That’s because my content doesn’t deliver on its promise: I have no evidence that misleading headlines are coming to eat your brain. But if you keep reading a little further, you’ll find I do have evidence that misleading headlines are having a negative impact on our reading comprehension and our decision-making abilities.

Most people don’t get past the title, and why that’s bad news

A recent study of how we click and share on Twitter found that most of us rarely read this far into online content—meaning that we’re making decisions to share and “like” based on headline and the first few paragraphs:

“When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway,” reports

As reported by the Washington Post, the majority of people, six out of ten of us are sharing on Twitter without even clicking on the link.

Our “skimming” of online content only makes things worse. We’re losing the interest and ability to read deeply, which means our reading comprehension (and possibly our brain health) is decreasing.

The use of misleading headlines, especially in tabloid journalism, is not new. But our online habits of sharing without reading or fully comprehending what we’ve read is causing a greater ripple effect—spreading misinformation further and faster through social media.

Social media has a long memory, so “your thoughtless retweets, and those of your friends, are actually shaping our shared political and cultural agendas,” says the Washington Post.


Case in point: Study goes viral, parents go overboard

I noticed this phenomena after the results of a social media study, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” were published in The Atlantic on September 9, 2017.

The story went viral, and my Facebook feed filled up with comments like this: “Told you so!! I won’t let my kid have a smart phone until she’s 27!”

And this on Twitter:

capture smart phone tweet

After just reading the headline, and scanning the first few paragraphs of the article, parents immediately took the study to mean that all computer time and all digital devices are bad for kids. They were wrong.

Just the facts, Ma’am

Dig into the story, and go to the primary source, and you’ll see that this headline may be leading us down the wrong path.

The study’s author, Jean M. Twenge, states she hadn’t actually found a causal link:

“…these analyses don’t unequivocally prove that screen time causes unhappiness; it’s possible that unhappy teens spend more time online,” explains Twenge.

As reported in the Washington Post, the study actually found that teenagers who get some exposure to screen time, between one and five hours a week, are happier than those who get none at all.

Given these facts, the Washington Post used a better headline:

better headline

Did this headline create as much interest as the one used by The Atlantic? The answer is “no”—a search of Twitter didn’t locate one reference to this article.

Headlines: keep it real and engaging

As users of social media, experts say that one way to combat poor reporting and fake news is by reading articles in their entirety before we share and comment on them.

As social media professionals, we too play an important role in producing accurate,  informative and engaging headlines. In fact, experts tell us that accuracy is an essential criteria for writing a good headline, as well as sexy, short and social-media friendly (for example, by using keywords). This HubSpot article offers great tips.

Have you ever been tempted or asked to write headlines that may misrepresent the facts of the story just so you can increase engagement? Should we and can we avoid this?

Finally, if you’re looking for a reputable source of information about screen time for children, I recommend Common Sense Media.

Tweet: Misleading headlines are coming to eat your brain!


Misleading headlines are coming to eat your brain!

Actually, that’s a misleading headline. But keep reading and we’ll show you why misleading headlines are bad headlines, and how you can make them accurate and engaging.

[This blog post created by Anne Boys]

Want to change the world? Three reasons I use social media for online activism

Love it or hate it, social media has the power to change the world. Non-profit and voluntary organizations are going online to garner support by using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more.

Canadian organizations, however, have been slower to adopt social media as an advocacy tool. A 2014 study by the Canadian Journal of Communications found that while Canadians are taking their activism online, “…many groups have reservations about overcommitting to the technology” and are “more cautious in their adoption of social media strategy than their American counterparts.”

These groups rightly point out that it takes human power to create content, monitor accounts and answer questions—a resource that is usually limited for many over-stretched voluntary organizations.

But the payoff, in my experience, is huge. As a parent advocate, I’ve seen the power of using social media to connect people and create positive social change.

I love using social media to advocate. Here’s why.

For the past two years, I’ve volunteered with Decoding Dyslexia-Ontario. We’ve used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and WordPress to successfully advocate and educate for children with the most common learning disability in the world–dyslexia.

Parents and their children used to be alone on the journey navigating the world of learning disabilities.

Alone understanding the diagnosis.

Alone supporting their learning and emotional needs.

Thanks to social media, our families aren’t alone anymore. We are a growing community that can’t be held back by geography or resources (we’re all volunteers from across the country).

Here are three ways our grassroots parent’s group uses social media to its advantage:

  1. Finding community: Our Facebook page has more than 2000 followers (and growing). We share advice, support each other through tough times, and celebrate successes too.
  2. Finding resources: When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability, many parents report that it’s difficult to know where to get help. Through social networking, we’ve been able to build and share a list of trusted tutors, reading experts and online resources like Understood: For learning and attention issue.
  3. Influencing change: Face-to-face meetings with policy makers and educators are critical to making real change for our kids. Social media helps us amplify our message and garner public support. On Twitter, we’ve been able to reach out successfully to many change makers. Recently, for example, the head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission tweeted out her support.

We’re not the only parents going online to find each other. The results of a 2017 poll showed that social networks are helping people connect and find information and, ultimately, to be better parents.

Have you used social media to advocate for a cause you care about?

Here’s who I advocate for:


Twitter: Want to change the world? Three reasons I use social media for online activism. [link to blog post]

Facebook: New on our blog! Find out how social media can help you advocate for a cause you care about. [link to blog post]