Christmas Toys, Then & Now

Christmas Toys, Then & Now

It looks like all the kids of today really need is internet connectivity.

Growing up, the toys were simple and quite plain. We loved unwrapping Barbie Dolls and Legos and action figures, drawing pads, Little People play sets, and toy race cars. Now, in 2017, toys are far more advanced. Almost every toy has some kind of electronic part, can connect to the internet, or requires batteries.

I remember watching my little brother, six years younger than me, unwrapping an Xbox one Christmas, and thinking to myself, "when did Christmas get so advanced?"

Here are some of the top 10 Christmas gifts for the 90's kids versus the some of the top 10 Christmas gifts for the kids of today. Bear with me as we see how things have changed from then to now.

1. Hot Wheels play sets.

A favorite among car enthusiasts everywhere. I remember one of the kids in my neighborhood had it, and his cars changed color with the water temperature. Probably one of the coolest toys of our childhood.

2. Cabbage Patch dolls.

Cabbage Patch dolls came with their own birth certificates and really cute little grins. My mom got one for her 16th birthday and swore it was the best gift ever. They're still popular today, but much more with an older crowd getting in touch with their youth.

3. Nintendo Game Boy.

From the classic Game Boy in the top middle to all the add-ons to make your game play even better, Nintendo really provided kids with the best childhood. I had the Game Boy Advanced and I still think it's one of the best handheld games in the history of handheld games.

4. Barbie Jeep Power Wheels.

Yes, I totally had a Barbie Jeep, and yes, I was a menace on the road. Power Wheels came out with Jeeps for boys and girls, then they started making Cadillacs and Corvettes for the later generations.

5. Furby.

The toy that defied logic, the Furby. You could take its batteries out, and it'd still be chirping. Late at night, you could faintly hear its calls from the depth and darkness of your closet... "Furby...". Probably my least favorite toy.

6. Rockin' Robot Cassette Player/Recorder.

This cute little toy gained its popularity with the help of the Toy Story movies that made their debut 1995. You could talk into the attached microphone and record your voice, or play back some homemade cassette tapes.

7. Easy-Bake Oven.

Couldn't tell if mine was broken or if I was just really bad at baking. My older sister had the Easy-Bake Oven and I can't remember a time that it actually worked.

8. Troll Dolls.

No one knows what it was about these little dolls that made them so popular, but they gathered on window sills and sat in the toy boxes of many 90s kids. Pretty sure I had at least five, all with different shades of orange hair.

9. View-Master.

The View Master came with reels to view scenes from popular Disney movies, fun facts about animals and landscapes, and many other cool reels that could be purchased separately and added to your collection.

10. Hit Clips.

Hit Clips were the start of my music obsession. My sisters and I all had the little boombox, and we would trade clips, and sing the only five lines we knew from the song because they were featured on the clip.

And now, for the kids of today.

1. Selfie Mic Music Set.

As if we aren't already self-obsessed, here's an attachment to help us seem way more talented than we are. It's a selfie stick with a mic and headphones so we can record ourselves singing. Fascinating.

2. Sky Viper V2400 HD Streaming Drone.

Drones are all the rage, even though most sporting arenas won't let you fly drones anywhere near them, and you can't take them to concerts either, but hey, at least you get to spy on your neighbors.

3. Cozmo the Toy Robot.

I think kids should stop playing with robots, especially with the rise of Sophia, the first robot citizen. But this cute little guy doesn't look capable of world domination.

4. Shopkins play sets.

I had never heard of Shopkins until I worked at Claire's. Little girls would run up to me and ask where the Shopkins were. To this day, I still don't know exactly what they are, but they're kind of cute little toys.

5. Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio.

Instead of just squashing your Play-Doh and forgetting to put the lid on it again properly and letting it dry out, you can now bring your Play-Doh to life with -surprise- the internet. Just another excuse for kids to want tablets or iPhones.

6. Merge Virtual Reality Headset.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are becoming more and more popular among movie buffs and video game fanatics. They allow you to immerse yourself in a virtual world, without the risk of injury, unless you walk into a wall.

7. BB-9E App-Enabled Droid.

Another toy that needs to be connected to the internet, this app-enabled BB-9E Droid has all the bells and whistles of a remote-controlled droid. It's just missing the bluetooth connection.

8. Star Wars Landspeeder 12V Ride-On.

9. Robotic Neft guns

Another drone-themed toy, this Nerf gun is a blaster gun, on a set of tracks, controlled via a remote. It's a cool concept, but I'd rather have seen a flying Nerf gun blaster.

10. Laser-X Laser Tag.

Instead of paying ridiculous amounts of money to play laser tag with a bunch of random people, now you can play it in the comfort of your own home with this Laser-X game. Looks simple enough.

Cover Image Credit: Zifiliu

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?

In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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5 Ways to Protect Your Privacy While Using Facebook

3. DO NOT log in with Facebook for other websites

As you may have heard in the news all over the place, Facebook has failed to protect your privacy. You and I might feel worried about how our personal data has been used and why it has been used. No one knows, yet. We hope that nothing serious would happen. You as a user of Facebook, may or may not aware of how Facebook has been either selling or using your personal data for advertising but you can take precautions to protect your private information by several steps before and after you use Facebook.

It is easy to get angry about what the lack of cyber security of Facebook has done, but it’s not the end of the world. According to reports by Cambridge Analytica, they have used Facebook user’s data to promote a political campaign for the election of 2016. Here, as a computer major student and developer, I am going to tell you five ways to protect your privacy while using Facebook. It’s doable by an average person without any technical expertise.

1. Always log out from Facebook

You should always log out from the Facebook after using it for numerous reasons. First, by doing so, you’re decreasing the chance of your personal information being stolen or misuse. I’m claiming that Facebook use your private data without your permission, but there are more chances that your other activities (e.g., browsing) might be recorded for various purposes. Also, someone you know or complete stranger might take your phone and post whatever he/she would like to post. So, it’s a best practice that you should do it.

2. Use the "incognito" searching mode

You have seen a notice either in the header or footer of the webpage saying “this website use cookie... Accept/OK!..” Well, those people want to know what do you like/search on the internet so they can give you advertising according to it. Your browsing history, cookies and site data, and information entered in forms would be saved/accessed if you do not choose to go incognito. Incognito mode means “browse privately” (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N). Since you have a Facebook account, your preferences about products and browsing are more likely to be accessed by other websites that have like and share buttons. In short, go incognito!

3. DO NOT log in with Facebook for other websites

According to Facebook recent privacy updates, they are limiting how developers can use your login information. However, you should avoid to Sign Up or Login using Facebook for numerous reasons. First, if you log in to other sites with Facebook login, you are sharing your personal and private information with them indirectly. Someone would need your full name, email, and a city that you’re currently live to track you down or at least figure out who you are. You are more likely to get tons of ads on your browser and Facebook page. If you hate ads, then you should avoid using Facebook to Sign Up or Login to other websites.

4. Manage Facebook apps that you use

Go to (Settings⇒ Apps and Websites) to make changes of your choice. You will be surprised by how many apps and websites you are going to find that you no longer use. You should remove all apps that you don’t use frequently. Also, you should click on each app’s (View & Edit) to make changes how they should use your private information. Personally, I want to suggest that DO NOT use apps or websites that would tell you “who are your top 5 best friends?” or “how much money you will make in 10 years,” etc. These are spams. By using this tools, you’re putting your privacy in danger.

5. Manage Facebook ads

This is my favorite one, and this is the on that I’m most pissed about for numerous reasons. You will be shocked after looking what kind of categories Facebook has set up to give you the “perfect matching” ads. You will also be surprised after clicking on your interest tab. You will be amazed by how powerful Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool is. You may or may not remove whatever preferences you no longer have about any categories. You should check “Your Information” tab to make sure that what kind of information you are sharing with whatever company. You should also hide whatever ad topics that you don’t want to see.

MUST DO: You should click here to here to see if your personal information has been shared with Cambridge Analytica or not (you must be logged in).

In short, these are some basic precautions that you can take to protect your privacy if you are a Facebook user. The primary purpose of this article is not to oppose what Facebook does for their user, but it is to inform them about how to protect their private data besides what Facebook does or will do. In the 21st century, cybersecurity is becoming the biggest concern, and we should be aware of what do we share online because once it’s out, it stays there forever. I hope that after reading this article, you would know how to protect your privacy while using Facebook. See you next week!

To see Facebook’s current practice, click here.

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