Thank you Sacramento!

Wow, I needed that.  Cool temperatures, delicious seafood, and a great group of people to meet at the California Digital Government Summit.  As promised, before jumping on an airplane I’m posting a link to the slides you saw this morning in PDF Format. Collateral Change SACRAMENTO September 2019

If you’re interested to learn more about what’s happening with student smart phones and devices at San Mateo High School, check out the story here from ABC7 News, “San Mateo High School setting trends with phone-free policy, fielding calls from across the country”

Until next time, follow me on Instagram @michaelhakkarinen and check out the great pictures I took on my walk last night around your beautiful city posted below.



Collateral Change… in North Carolina

NC State Capitol BuildingThank you eRepublic and the North Carolina Digital Government Summit Advisory Board for the invitation to visit and present yesterday.  It was a pleasure to visit your beautiful state and the city of Raleigh. As a former Marylander I’m always happy to revisit the East Coast for some southern hospitality and decent seafood!  St. Roch’s on Wilmington Street did NOT disappoint.

As promised, here are some links to the resources I shared. You’ll find a PDF File with every slide from the presentation here – Collateral Change North Carolina August 2019, and also a summary of the audience survey results regarding tech use on this Google Doc.

If you have questions, need more resources, or would like to share some of your own success stories about finding balance with the technology in your lives please contact me.  Until next time… Go Terps! 🙂

“Collateral Change” Presentation at the Louisiana Digital Government Summit 2019

Thank you Louisiana Government Information Technology employees!  It was a pleasure to visit your beautiful state, enjoy delicious seafood, get to know a little about you, and hear some of your stories about balancing technology at work and at home.


As promised, linked below is a PDF file of the slides I used in my “Collateral Change” presentation this afternoon.

And although he was asleep, I was able to see “Mike the Tiger” over at the gorgeous LSU Campus.  Geaux Tigers!

Collateral Change Louisiana 2019 Keynote Slides

Texas Public Sector CIO Academy 2018 Presentation

Texas Capital Building MH

Thank you Austin, Texas!  It was a short trip but worth it.  Along with meeting fantastic people who work to serve this great state and the 12 million Texans who live here, I also got to enjoy some delicious fish tacos at Turf & Surf Po-Boy, and amazing BBQ at Coopers.

Collateral Change Intro SlideIf you were there for my “Collateral Change” presentation you know I promised you the slides.  So here they are in PDF format – Collateral Change 2018 Texas CIO Academy Slides

Also, if you have any personal stories about restoring the balance of technology in your life I’d love to hear them.  Click comment below to share publicly, or use the Contact Me page to send me a direct message.

Fire, Fear, and Smart Phones: Don’t Get Mad, Don’t Get Even. Get Thinking.

Part 1:  Fire

This morning I’m feeling extreme relief and grateful beyond words.

My oldest daughter is alive.

Thursday morning she called, stuck on a road trying to get out of Paradise, California.  She had driven home from Butte College when an announcement was made that her town was being evacuated due to a growing wildfire up the road, the now famous “Camp Fire”.

“Dad, ha— you ——- news ——.  There’s a fire and ——— (snapping sound) flames in my backyard. (Silence). —–being evacuated——-”  …. Her panicked voice interrupted by cracks in the connections.  The line goes dead.  I call back.  An obnoxious honking sound. The call has failed.

F*** you iPhone!  What do I do now?  My kid is in the middle of a forest fire, do I Google “Paradise California Fire”?

Yes. And there it is.

Live video from a Redding news channel of a wildfire is burning in Butte Creek County and threatening thousands of homes.  Since 6 AM it has tripled in size with zero containment.  Helicopters are being sent to evacuate patients from Feather Creek Hospital.  All roads are blocked.  Fire departments have been called from surrounding towns to keep the roads open as long as possible.  Over 23,000 people are under an immediate evacuation order.  My kids are two of them.  Hopefully my son is at one of his college classes and not home in the path of the fire. There is only one way out of town not blocked by fire.  It’s a traffic jam.

Back on the other end of the broken phone line, with only a few minutes to grab a couple items from the house she sprinted back to her car and headed towards Chico, 23 miles downhill from Paradise.  After two hours in gridlock traffic, with flames engulfing both sides of the road, the noon sky turning to complete black, the car heating up from the growing flames, watching people running down the street with children in their arms or releasing their pets to fend for themselves, afraid she was going to be cooked to death, my 17 year old daughter experiences a world that has turned into something she should never see.  Hell.  The text messages she sent captured her fear. Images of being trapped on the road.

Laila's Traffic Text  Laila's Fire Picture

Today she’s sleeping in our guest bed here at my house in Salt Lake City.  An hour and half airplane ride from Sacramento, a flight she managed to make after reuniting with her mother and brother in Chico to share tears and concerns.  At this point we fear their house, all of their belongings, and two cats are gone.

Through text messages, twitter, snapchat, and news stories, we try to keep up with whatever we can learn about the fire, fatalities, and more evacuations.

Part 2 & 3: Read on at this page, but beware – the remainder of this blog post features images and tweets from President Trump and responses that are inappropriate.

Social Media Makes Teens Happier?

Hopefully that title caught your attention.  It can’t be true, can it?  Doesn’t Social Media make teens more anxious?  I thought a constant compulsive need for connectivity leads to sleep deprivation? Aren’t all the kids in the world suffering from cyberbullying?

This week I’ve read two contradicting articles online that make me question everything I think I know about social media and the psychological well being of our teenage generation.  Kind of.

2018_cs_socialmediasociallife_infographicimage_1 (1)Common Sense Media released an infographic titled “Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences.”  (September 10, 2018)

Click the picture to the right to see the entire image and be sure to look very closely at the change in percentages over the last six years.

The one fact that stands out to me is that since 2012 the percentage of kids who say social media “distracts them from paying attention to the people they’re with” has increased from 44% to 54%.  Both of those percentages seem smaller than I would have anticipated.  To me it seems like 100% of the people I know, teens and adults, are distracted by social media when I’m thinking they should be paying attention to me!

Here’s another shocking statistic – 1 in 5 teen drivers admit to checking social media notifications… while driving!  Come on.  Texting and driving is the number one killer of teenagers in our country today, and now they’re checking social media while behind the wheel?

And finally, the big truth – teens are who already susceptible to low social-emotional behaviors are experiencing more of the negative effects of social media than kids with high social-emotional well-being.  And that fact solidifies my theory – social media is a mental health magnifying glass.  Hold it over a happy person, they see and post happy things.  Hold it over a teenager struggling with mental health issues, you have a child who is more likely to commit an act of self-harm.  Unhappy teenagers who use social media are more likely to feel lonely, depressed, and have a lower sense of self-esteem.

The percentages of teenagers who reported negative effects of social media far outweigh those who report positive benefits – four to to seven fold.  Especially when it comes to cyberbullying.

Prior to reading the article I found contradictory evidence about teen use of social media a 2016 Journal of Adolescence article #sleepyteens  Click the title to download a PDF Version from ScienceDirect

There are no surprises here – 467 Scottish adolescents confirmed that there is a link between social media and wellbeing.  The interesting aspect of the research here, which differs from the survey done this summer by CommonSenseMedia, is the effect on teens’ well-being depending on the time of day in which the online activity occurred.  Night time use drastically increased vulnerability to anxiety, depression, and negative self-esteem.

Could this be because of the sleep deprivation incurred from late night social media use?  More research certainly needs to be done to determine if this is causation or correlation.  Does Social Media use “CAUSE” mental health issues?  Or, are teenagers predisposed to mental health issues simply experiencing increased negative effects from social media triggers?  Either way there is definitive evidence for one simple solution –

Keep internet connected devices out of your child’s room after bed time.  It doesn’t matter if their four years old, fourteen, or forty four.  Screens don’t belong in the bedroom.

Happy teenagers may cite benefits of social media use, but remember this – teenagers aren’t always happy.  In fact, it’s rare.  The hurricane of hormones swirling around in their still developing frontal lobes change in extremes that parents can never prepare for.  Allowing your “happy teen” to fall into the negative effects of social media isn’t worth the risk when the only thing to gain are a few likes on Instagram or a longer Snapchat streak.

Remember the “S” in R.E.S.T.O.R.E. – set limits.


ELIMINATE – Goodbye Facebook! Again.

slotmachineThe second letter in the acronym “RESTORE” stands for “ELIMINATE” .  Have the courage to eliminate the apps and distractions on your phone that make you feel bad or waste time.  Here’s a story about digital elimination…

This is hard.  Deleting the Facebook App from my phone has been like walking away from a slot machine with a cup full of coins and the knowledge that it’s just about to hit the jackpot. The Facebook scrolling interface is addictive and never ending.  Flipping your thumb up the screen in search of the next big hit of dopamine… will it be a post from a college friend?  Funny video?  An article about Trump’s latest lie?  Or a disappointing ad about the coolest new minimalist wallet?  A passive aggressive Bible Quote?  Dear Jesus, please make it stop!

While I’m reading the book A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel I’m reflecting on my use of the Facebook App on my iPhone.  There’s no question it’s the biggest time suck on my device.  Looking into my settings / battery report  I can see 25% of my battery was burned by Facebook over the last three days.  That means one quarter of my iPhone time is spent on Facebook.  That’s absurd.  This device is designed for me to read and send emails and text messages, or make phone calls.  It also allows me to get directions for driving, check my bank account, even pay bills.  But I’m spending a quarter of my time looking at posts I rarely care to see?

Visit the Syncios Blog and learn how to see what you’re doing on your iPhone and iPad

Matt Richtel does a great job of explaining why.  Facebook is a lot like a slot machine because it leaves the user unsatisfied, “it works on the principle called variable and intermittent reinforcement.” (Richtel, A Deadly Wandering p.198)  Most of the content I see on Facebook is totally useless, mind numbing, pointless digital content.  I scroll through it quickly with my eyes scanning the text looking for that tiny reward of seeing something that actually interests me.  And when it hits?  I want more.  The scrolling continues.

In addition to the scrolling, there’s the constant checking.  Nothing to do for a minute?  Let’s see if my last photo get any likes?  Yep!  There’s a another smiley face and two more thumbs up. Jackpot!

Let’s look at another hypothetical twist to this Facebook issue.  Addiction.  Is it addictive?  Or is it a compulsion?  Or, is it just a habit?  Either way I believe it’s a problem.  For me.  I’m saying this for myself, I’m not trying to project anything onto you the reader.  You don’t have Facebook addiction.  Maybe.  But for me, a person who possesses some characteristics of attention deficit, hyperactivity, and anxiety disorders, Facebook fuels these symptoms like a shot of nitro-methane.

I’m not completely sure without sticking my head into an MRI, so I’ll say this with caution – I think it’s very possible that scrolling through Facebook is not only a waste of my time, it’s also contributing to the decline of my attention span, instigating hyperactive tendencies, and triggering my anxieties.  And if this is truly happening, it may be negatively impacting my ability to make good choices.  So let’s go deep end and apply this diagnosis on a global platform.

What would happen if this was simultaneously occurring for everyone using Facebook?  Which at the time of this blog post writing is 68% of the adult population in the United States (Pew Research Center).  That’s roughly 167 million people currently active on Facebook.  If 45% of them get their “news” from Facebook, that’s 75 million adults… and if 58% of them voted…  what could go wrong?


A lot could go wrong.  In a lot of different ways.

From fake news to fake friends.  Spam.  Russian hackers.   Is our sense of reality being stolen right out from under our screen  flicking thumbs?  Identity theft seems benign compared to reality theft!

So this morning I’ve deleted the app.  Again.

I originally removed both Facebook and Instagram from my phone before a week long trip to Hawaii and it felt great.  There was a brief period of withdrawal followed by a new found sense of presence and focus.  I enjoyed every moment of that trip.

Then last month I brought Facebook back thinking it would help communicate with family.  I was wrong.  I can communicate with family just fine by email, text, phone, and FaceTime.

I’ll keep Facebook on my computer to access from time to time, when I can sit down and focus.  But there’s no more space on my phone for this app.  Facebook is great for helping me communicate with my own fears and other peoples’ false realities, and who needs that?

Social Media & Dopamine

At the conclusion of a presentation in New Jersey last week a gentleman came up to me and asked if I had seen Simon Sinek’s video about dopamine.  I hadn’t.  But I had pretty much just summarized it in my presentation when I was explaining how my own brain was getting hooked on checking social media.

Since then, I’ve watched it, and I would like to share it with you here (4 min):

Here are my take-aways:

  •  As humans we are all hooked on dopamine, we just have different ways of activating it in our brains.  For some people it’s a hobby, for others it’s drugs, and for many it’s delivered via some kind of interaction with technology; social media, video games, day trading, etc.
  • Dopamine is addictive.  Smoking, drinking, drug use – all of these also release dopamine.  These items are controlled and have age limits, but social media doesn’t.

Here’s where I disagree with his conclusions.

Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc. are all chemicals that are addictive.  They trigger the brain to release dopamine, but they also chemically adhere to nerve endings, hijack our nervous system, and cause a physical addiction.

Just because the dopamine release caused by social media and other technology “addictions” has a similar effect doesn’t mean that they are “addictive”.  Instead, they are behaviors and are therefore “compulsive.”  It may look the same in the users behavior, but it isn’t a physical or chemical addiction.  In other words, Facebook “likes” don’t cross over the blood brain barrier.

One more take-away:

  • In this new high-anxiety society young people are turning to technology to make social connections.  The dopamine rush they receive in the process provide a reward for these compulsive behaviors that transcends into a behavioral issue that compromises their relationships and social connections.

Now this is where I completely agree with Mr. Sinek.  Social Media is adversely effecting a large number of people in our younger generations, and many older generations as well.  Staring at a computer or small screen in the palm of your hand negatively impacts how we communicate and hinders how we create connections with others.  Measuring and comparing ourselves to one another by Instagram posts, Facebook Likes, and Twitter Followers is warping our perception of ourselves, and our realities.

My question is, what do we do about it?

If you would like to see more from Simon Sinek follow him on Facebook.
(See what I did there?)

UCET 2018 Keynote Speaker Manoush Zomorodi

This year at the UCET Conference we were lucky to have journalist, podcaster, and author Manoush Zomorodi as our Keynote Speaker.  Manoush is the author of Bored and Brilliant and the host of the podcast “Note To Self”.

bored and brilliant

Over the past year I’ve enjoyed listening to Manoush and her guests talk about everything from the show Black Mirror, to the Replika App, and even interview other podcasters like Dan Harris of “10% Happier”