A Third of Recently Married Couples Met Online and They’re More Satisfied and Less Likely To Split-Up

This post first appeared on June 13, 2013


Source: Based on data from Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues (chart by Larry Magid)

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Listen to Larry’s CBS News/CNET interview with eHarmony.com CEO Neil Clark Warren

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 35% of couples married between 2005 and 2012 met online and that these couples were slightly more likely to stay together and “associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married,” according to the report.

The study, which was led by John T. Cacioppo from the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology, Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience was based a Harris Interactive survey completed by 19,131 married respondents. The study was commissioned by eHarmony but was vetted by independent statisticians who “oversaw and verified the statistical analyses based on a pre-specified plan for data analyses. Prior to the survey, an agreement with eHarmony was reached “to ensure that any results bearing on eHarmony.com would not affect the publication of the study. Having read the entire report (I have a doctorate in education with a survey research specialty), I can say that it looks very legitimate.

Longer and happier marriages

The survey also found that marriages that began online “were slightly less likely to result in a marital breakup (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.” Just under 6% (5.96%) of those who met their spouse online had divorced or separated compared to 7.67% of those who met offline.

eHarmony CEO “shocked” by percentage of online introductions resulting in marriage


eHarmony CEO Neil Clark Warren (Photo: eHarmony)

In an interview, eHarmony CEO and Founder, Neil Clark Warren, said that he commissioned the survey because he “wanted to see how eHarmony was doing and I also wanted to see generally how much people were using the Internet to explore the possibility of their getting married and getting matched to someone.” He said he and his colleagues were “shocked when we found 35% of all of those marriages involved people who had met on the Internet.” As per satisfaction rate (eHarmony scored highest), he claimed that “we do a better job of introducing people than people off the Internet.” He pointed out that “we make them go through five stages of communication before they even get the other person’s name. He also said that dating sites provide “a pool of possibilities to date and eventually marry that’s much much larger than you can assemble on your own.”

This post first appeared on Forbes.com

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Internet Explorer had a long and important life, but it’s time to move on

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 7.48.33 PMAfter 20 years, it’s time to say goodbye to Internet Explorer. It’s been said that time is measured in dog years on the Internet, so based on that notion, Microsoft’s Web browser lived to a ripe old age.

The world has changed since Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer in 1995. Back then, the World Wide Web was in its infancy and browsers were — just as the name implied — mostly used to browse around. There were no web-based email apps, people didn’t use browsers for online banking, there was even a paucity of Web-based news sites.

Back then, most people who went online were still using dedicated services like Prodigy, CompuServe or AOL, and each of these services required their own proprietary software. AOL distributed millions of floppy disks with its software — so many, in fact, that I never had to buy floppies, I just reformatted the free ones from AOL.

And, of course, people weren’t using phones or tablets to surf the Web in 1995, though I was surprised to learn that a browser for the Apple Newton personal digital assistant, called PocketWeb, was launched in 1994.

IE was controversial from the day it was announced because, unlike its competition at the time, it was free. It was largely blamed for the demise of Netscape Navigator, the leading browser of its time, which led to concerns that Microsoft would forever dominate the browser market, especially when it bundled IE with Windows 95.

I remember having a conversation about this issue with Microsoft’s then-CEO, Bill Gates, at a trade show where he dismissed this notion. Gates was right — Just because Microsoft was giving away a browser for free didn’t mean that it would forever own that market.

Firefox, a free browser from the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, started eating into Microsoft’s market share shortly after it was introduced in 2005, and Google Chrome, which first appeared in 2008, is now very popular. There are conflicting studies on whether IE or Chrome is currently the leading browser, but, however you look at it, Microsoft’s market share is shrinking and it clearly no longer “owns” the browser market, even on Windows PCs.

Apple’s Safari, of course, dominates on iOS phones and tablets, while Google Chrome is the main browser for most Android devices. But browsers aren’t as important on mobile because many “sites” have their own app. Most news sites, for example, encourage readers to download their app even if it possible to view their content on a mobile browser. On my PC or Mac, I do my banking through my browser, but on my phone I use my bank’s app.

IE’s reputation as an insecure and sluggish browser lingers, even though it’s no longer true. Chrome’s success is largely because of its perceived speed and its minimalist design, but in a September 2014 roundup, PC Magazine crowned Firefox as the fastest and most memory-efficient browser. Even though IE came in third, the PC editors gave it a good review, saying “it’s so much faster, leaner, and more secure than previous versions that former users who left it behind may want to give it another try.”

But users rarely do go back and give maligned products another try. Like a lot of people, I was once an IE user, but after Firefox (and later Chrome) came along, I switched away and never switched back. As part of my research for this column, I did try the latest version of IE and have to agree that it’s a lot better than it once was, but I’m still not going back. I go back and forth between Mac, Windows, iOS and Android and want a browser (like Chrome and Firefox) that runs seamlessly on all those platforms.

So, if you can’t get people to take a second look at an improved product, another strategy is to kill off the name and replace it with something really new. And that’s what Microsoft is doing with a browser that’s been code-named Spartan.

As the name implies, Spartan promises to be lean and fast. It also will offer note taking and web page annotation and be optimized for reading content and getting out of the way, especially on smaller mobile devices. It will also be smarter with a personal-assistant feature, called Cortana, that will, for instance, automatically give you directions when you land on a restaurant’s webpage or bring up your flight reservation if you type in the airline name in the address bar.

Spartan is not yet in the technical preview of Windows 10 that I’ve been trying out, but it should be ready when Windows 10 is released, likely this summer. While Internet Explorer is being retired as a mainstream browser, it will still be available for large organizations that need it for continuity purposes for older websites, but most Windows users will be encouraged to use Spartan.



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Android apps to get age rating and manual review

by Larry Magid

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Android developers today received an email from Google informing them that the company is “introducing a new age-based rating system for apps and games consistent with industry best practices.”

Developers will be required to complete a content rating questionnaire based on official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC). The questionnaire provides them an immediate rating from various territories around the world so that parents can make content decisions based on familiar rating systems, depending on where they live. The rating systems include the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for the U.S., the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board and others.

The new rating system will replace the current Google Play rating scale with a local rating. Areas that aren’t covered by the IARC system will be “assigned an age-based generic rating,” according to Google.

Developers are required to complete the content rating questionnaire for new apps, existing apps and again after any app update with new content or features that could affect their rating.

Tim Lordan, executive director of the Internet Education Foundation called the rating system “a great development that is scalable and allows for International customization.”

Apple has its own rating system for iOS content based on age ratings of 4+, 9+, 12+ and 17+.

Manual review

Several months ago, Google started reviewing apps before they were allowed to be published in the Google Play store and, today, the company announced that it’s rolling out “improvements to the way we handle publishing status. Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.”

Advice for parents

Rating systems can be a guide for parents but they’re not necessarily definitive. Parents should review any apps their kids are using to determine whether they are suitable for your child. Additional information may be available from Common Sense Media and other rating sources that provide reviews in addition to age-based ratings. It can also be helpful for parents to read the reviews in the Google Play and iTunes stores,  to use a search engine to see what others are saying and to discuss children’s apps with other parents and your kids themselves. Ratings, filters and parental control tools can be helpful, but they are never a substitute for people involved with your child’s digital life. Periodically talk with your kids about the apps, social media services and sites they use but make it a conversation, not a lecture. Ask your kids what they use and how they protect their privacy and security while evaluating whether you feel that the content in the app is suitable for your child.

Disclosure: Larry Magid is CEO of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives contributions from Google and other companies. 

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Facebook clarifies policies on nudity, hate speech and other community standards

by Larry Magid:

Facebook has always had “community standards” that govern what can and can’t be posted and how it will deal with users that fail to follow its terms of service. Periodically the company updates these standards but, this week, Facebook decided to simply make them easier to understand.

In a blog post, Facebook’s head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert and Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby wrote that the company is providing “more detail and clarity on what is and is not allowed” in such areas nudity and hate speech. They stressed that the “policies and standards themselves are not changing.”

The new standards page is broken into four sections Helping to keep you safe; Encouraging respectful behavior and Protecting your intellectual property and each section has a set of links on the side with explanations for each major issue.

Nudity and hate speech

Facebook has long gotten flack over its nudity and hate speech policies. Some people think they’re too strict while others think they’re too lax. As a member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, I can assure you that policy decisions in these two areas is not easy, but the company — with our help — has done its best to create nuanced policies that allow for artistic and political freedom while at the same time trying to maintain an environment that is respectful and inoffensive. Clearly, not everyone will be happy with where Facebook arrived on these issues but — with more than 1.3 billion people — they need to create policies that their support staff and enforce and they need to find a way to explain them to people so that users understand what the company does and doesn’t allow.

The icon for Facebook's Encouraging respectful behavior rules

The icon for Facebook’s Encouraging respectful behavior rules

On nudity, for example, Facebook explains that it removes photographs of “people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks” and that, though they “restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple,” they ” always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring,” and artistic images that show nudity.

Facebook also bans hate speech including content that attacks people  based on their: Race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, sex or gender identity or serious disabilities and diseases and the company will sometimes allow people to share someone else’s hate speech “for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech.”

Disclosure: Larry Magid is CEO of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives contributions from Facebook and other companies.



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Apple’s new MacBook is enticing, but lack of ports gives pause

macbookI have to admit I was a bit lustful when Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the sleek new MacBook at the company’s big launch event. For me, it stole the show — I’m not at all interested in spending $350 or more for an Apple Watch, but I am tempted to spend $1,299 for the new laptop.

The new MacBook weighs only two pounds, is only half an inch thick and is pretty much only as wide as its full-sized keyboard. It’s actually about the same thickness as the original iPad and only a half-pound heavier.

For me, the weight of a laptop matters a lot because I carry one around almost everywhere I go. When I’m at CES or other trade shows, I have my laptop with me all day, and anything I can do to shave off a pound or so is welcome relief to my back, arms and shoulders.

In some ways, it reminds me of 1998, when Steve Jobs introduced the first mainstream computer without a floppy drive. I have to admit, I was one of the reviewers who criticized Jobs for leaving off such an essential component on that first iMac, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to the idea of a floppy-less machine, and soon all other PC makers followed in Apple’s footsteps.

Apple did it again in 2008. At that time, just about all desktop and notebook PCs had an optical drive to read and write CDs and DVDs, but when Jobs introduced the MacBook Air — the ultrathin laptop of its time — it came without an optical drive. And, once again, most PC makers followed. Although you can purchase an external optical drive from Apple and other manufacturers, they are no longer standard issue in most laptops and even on some desktops.

So, it appears as if Tim Cook is following in Jobs’ footsteps by suggesting that, when it comes to connectors, less is more.

It’s easy to be skeptical about Apple’s decision to jettison the ports, especially if you agree with my assertion that being ultrathin isn’t necessarily an important feature. Yes, those ports would have made the MacBook slightly thicker, but they would have added almost no weight.

As a potential buyer, I am thinking twice about getting a device that requires me to purchase, carry around, and plug-in dongles to connect devices that I’ll need almost every day. One of the reasons I bought a 13-inch MacBook Air instead of the 11-inch is because the larger one has an SD-card reader, meaning I had one less adapter to carry around and plug-in when I want to transfer images from my camera to my laptop.

For me, the new Mac will require frequent use of dongles. But, given Apple’s track record in convincing the entire industry to do away with “essential” components, it’s worth considering that perhaps Apple might be on to something, especially as it becomes increasingly easy to connect devices without wires.

Eventually, that external microphone I plug into my Mac to record my CBS radio segments will have a wireless connection — probably low-powered Bluetooth, but perhaps something else. And the same is true for that external hard drive or the Brother label printer that I just can’t do without. Already many printers connect to PCs, Macs and mobile devices via Wi-Fi and — going forward — we’re going to see a lot more cord cutting.

The day will come when computers will have — at most — a single wire. And even that power cord will eventually soon be unnecessary as manufactures start using inductive chargers like the PowerMat system that’s used to charge smartphones simply by placing them on a mat. That day may be pretty close. Last month, Dell announced that it joined the Alliance for Wireless Power so it can use magnetic resonance technology to charge future laptops.

In the meantime, if you’re a road warrior who doesn’t need to plug in peripherals or just likes living on the bleeding edge of technology, the new MacBook could be right for you. Otherwise, Apple — and its competitors — have you covered, with plenty of laptops that weigh less than three pounds but do have those handy ports.



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Net neutrality vote doesn’t end the debate

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled on net neutrality, but the debate lingers on.

My Facebook feed is full of comments from friends with varying opinions about the FCC’s 3-to-2 vote in favor of network neutrality. Some feel that the vote is the beginning of a huge government power grab to control the Internet, while others argue it was a victory for free speech that will keep the Internet free and open. But many remain confused, wondering what the FCC decision will mean for ordinary people.

And, like many things that have been “decided” in Washington, net neutrality is not necessarily a done deal. The FCC’s ruling could be overturned by the courts, by congressional action or by a reconstituted FCC after the 2016 election.

In its simplest terms, the FCC ruling bans wired and wireless Internet service providers from offering preferential treatment to companies willing to pay the extra to make sure their content gets to customers faster or more reliably than companies that don’t pay for such treatment. It also prevents ISPs from blocking or slowing down legal content.

The most extreme example of the need for such a law cited by network neutrality advocates is that it would prevent an ISP from blocking competing services. A phone company like AT&T that offers broadband service, for example, wouldn’t be able to block a company’s voice-over-Internet service that competes with its phone service, and a cable company like Comcast couldn’t block a competing video delivery service like Netflix.

But, as network neutrality opponents correctly point out, this doesn’t happen anyway.

But network neutrality proponents — including the three commissioners who voted for it — worry that it could happen if ISPs are free to do whatever deals they want. They point out that there isn’t a lot of competition in the Internet service business. Depending on where you live, most people only have a choice of two, or in some cases one, wired provider and a very small choice of wireless operators.

Without network neutrality, ISPs would be free to enter into all sorts of business deals and the fear, say the advocates, is that content providers who aren’t willing to or can’t pay the freight, will not be able to offer their customers the same experience as those who do.

Imagine, for example, that you were choosing between two streaming video services. Service A had a deal with your ISP that guaranteed fast and reliable service so that you could start watching their programs immediately and enjoy very high-resolution video. But service B — perhaps a startup — doesn’t have a special deal. You can still watch their video but you might have to wait for it to buffer, it might pause occasionally and the resolution might be a lot lower because they don’t have the same bandwidth as the company that’s paying.

Even though the ISP might say that it’s not discriminating against company B, the mere fact that it has a special deal with company A would create an unlevel playing field.

One of the most controversial aspects of the rule is the FCC’s reclassification of broadband as a Title II telecommunications service under the 1934 Communications Act, which former FCC Chairman Michael Powell — now CEO of a cable industry trade group — called “backward-looking regulatory regime that is unsuited to the dynamic and innovative Internet” in a CNET opinion piece.

The FCC adopted this approach because, as a court ruled, it would otherwise lack the authority to regulate broadband, which was previously classified as an “information service.” Title II gives the FCC broad authority to regulate communications services, but chairman Tom Wheeler has said that the agency will not use this authority to regulate rates or impose other restrictions on ISPs other than to require them to maintain open networks.

Still, critics worry that net neutrality is the start of a slippery slope that could lead to further regulations including rates and — some argue — even content. But Wheeler and others say that won’t happen and that, if anything, the new regulations help protect freedom of speech on the Internet by assuring that you won’t have to pay extra to make your voice heard.

Some argue that the ruling is big government imposing its will on a free market, while others say it’s government protecting consumers against big business. And it’s perhaps no surprise that the FCC vote was along party lines, with the three Democrats voting yes and the Republicans opposed

Politics aside, the big question is how will this rule affect everyday Internet users and, based on what I can gather, the answer is that it will pretty much preserve the status quo because — for whatever reasons — most ISPs are already keeping their networks open. I don’t believe it will lead to government regulation of rates (although there may be a demand for that by some) and I am almost certain it will have no impact on content.


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Twist Plus lets you charge MacBooks & USB devices from 150 countries

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.04.17 PMRick Broida over at CNET News writes about a unique travel adapter called Twist Plus that lets you charge up to 4 USB devices and a MacBook when you travel abroad without having to carry around an extra plug converter.

The device works with Apple’s MagSafe 1 &2 adapter and standard USB charging cables .

Click below for the CNET story:

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YouTube Kids can be a parent’s best friend

YouTube Kids App IconMy wife and I were having dinner with some friends recently when I decided to show their four year-old twins a video from YouTube. I loaded up the app on my phone, searched for a video and played it but — all the while — I had a nagging fear that maybe I had accidentally launched a video that’s not appropriate for that age group. YouTube, as one would expect, has a wide variety of content and even though they have rules prohibiting nudity and violence, there is plenty there that’s not suitable for four year-olds — and that’s as it should be. Still millions of children — and their parents — rely on YouTube for great content.

But the next time I visit our friends’ house, I won’t have to worry because I’ll be able to use the new YouTube Kids app with content for kids and only for kids. Or, as Shimrit Ben-Yair, mother of two and YouTube Kids Group Product Manager, posted on the YouTube blog, “It’s the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.”

Listen to Larry Magid’s CBS News 1-minute segment about YouTube Kids

Brilliant idea

Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea and, after extensive testing of the product over the past few weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that — while nothing can replace parental involvement with their children’s media use, tools like YouTube Kids can be a parent’s best friend because it helps them do their job better when it comes to finding age appropriate content.

Leading children’s channels

The free app, which runs on Android and iOS, features content from leading children’s entertainment and education brands including DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, National Geographic Kids, Sesame Street and other shows from PBS Kids. There is also a music section where children can enjoy music videos and a separate “learning” icon that brings up content from PBS Kids, Ted Ed, Kahn Academy and other sources of kid-friendly learning resources.

Parental controls

Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so parents can set a timer to control how long their kids can watch (it defaults to 30 minutes but can be extended to 1:20). And parents can also turn off background music — something I recommend since you’re likely to find it annoying after awhile even if your kid loves it. Parents can also turn off the search feature so their kids can only select from featured content.

The app is advertiser-supported but the ads are, of course, age-appropriate and relatively unobtrusive.

About time

Personally, I think it’s about time that Google released a kid-friendly app for its youngest users. And speaking of time, it’s also about time management. Kids should be encouraged to consume age-appropriate entertainment and educational video, but — like everything else in life — it should be part of a balanced activity diet that also includes reading, conversations, exercise and plain-old playing.

Disclosure: ConnectSafely.org receives financial support from Google. I was pre-briefed on this product, tested early versions and provided feedback to Google on its features.

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Create your own online courses with Versal

Read the full post at Forbes.com

 Listen to interview with Versal founder and CEO Gregor Freund

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A conversation with Esther Wojcicki on ‘Moonshots in Education’

Esther Wojcicki is an award winning journalism teacher and the author of a new book ocovern education called Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom. The book explores digital and online learning with models and examples from schools that are already implementing digital learning.

Moonshots is an approachable book that’s part  Wojcicki philiophy and part tips and advice from her  co-author Lance Izumni and contributors Alice Chang and Alex Silverman. One of my favorite passages is about a culture of trust

The first thing to establish in a classroom is a culture of trust. That doesn’t mean the students are given complete freedom to run wild and do what they want; it means the students trust each other to help in the learning process and the teacher trusts the students.

A conversation

The interview you can hear below, a conversation really, is more than just about the book. It’s about an educational philosophy that stresses doing rather than just studying and is based on something quite radical in education — respect for students.

And the reason I call this a conversation rather than just an interview is because Esther touched on subjects that are near and dear to my heart as a former educational reformer back in a different era.

Author and teacher, Ester Wocicik

Author and teacher, Ester Wojcicki

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