8 common mistakes you may be making about technology

It seems like everyday there’s a new and improved eye-opener about the impact of technology use. Like I previously mentioned, technology is our generation’s drug of choice and our addiction has influenced many misconstrued ideas about how it is/will affect us. But what’s fact and what’s fiction? If we believed everything we heard from friends or saw on the news, chances are we would end up curled into a ball on the floor out of the fear that moving could cause us to spontaneously combust. To help avoid spiraling into this sad scenario, I’ve done some research and uncovered the truth behind a few common myths about technology.

Myth #1: If you post a disclaimer, you can prevent Facebook from using your photos.

False: It’s hard not to believe something that sounds so official, but this is actually just another one of those Internet hoaxes. Remember that seemingly endless document of terms and conditions you agreed to without reading when signing up for Facebook? Yeah, me neither. But somewhere in all that legal jargon we agreed to sharing, use, and distribution of the content we post, even though we have ownership. Always be sure to read the fine print!

Myth #2: The government can track your cell phone, even when it’s off.

False: Maybe all those governmental conspiracy theory movies have gotten to our heads, but this still isn’t possible. Any kind of cell phone tracking can only be done when the phone is turned on. Even if worse came to worst and you somehow accidentally managed to install a piece of malware that deceives you into thinking your phone is off when it isn’t, the battery can always be temporarily taken out to solve the problem.

Myth #3: You should only use the charger that came with your phone.

False: This is just another one of those marketing ploys used by companies to squeeze every last cent out of your wallet. After selling the main attraction, they bank on making additional profit off selling accompanying accessories like chargers. Just because the brands match doesn’t mean your charging options are limited. Any other charger that fits the manufacturer’s specs for your device will work just fine. If you are browsing the web for alternatives, make sure you aren’t purchasing a knock-off charger, since these have posed previous hazards.

Myth #4: Cell phones cause cancer

False: If this one were true, I’m pretty sure a majority of the human race would be doomed. Not to worry! The Annual Report of the President’s Cancer Panel has found no evidence that supports a link between cell phone use and cancer. Radiation is still given off when a signal is transmitted, but it’s a different wave on the spectrum. This non-ionizing radiation is far too weak to damage cells and cause cancer.

Myth #5: Private or “incognito” browsing means you are completely anonymous online.

False: Privacy mode does not give you the power of invisibility. When you’re browsing the web, this option keeps the content you view from being stored in your web history. There is also an added element of user control since the privacy feature limits the third party site’s ability to track information by blocking auto-login and deleting stored password and username information. Still, this does not completely hide your identity and browsing activity from third party sites.

Myth #6: Violent video games cause kids to become more aggressive or violent.

False: Though it is much easier to place the blame somewhere else than to take responsibility for our actions, it’s tough to make a case when science disagrees. One large study found that there was no significant change in behavior among kids who played violent video games. In fact, there is evidence that when video games are played within moderation (less than an hour a day), kids actually experienced more positive behavioral benefits than kids who don’t play video games at all!

Myth #7: Web cookies are dangerous and should be avoided

False: Even if you’re watching your diet, these cookies can be beneficial. Clearing them is not preventing any harm to your computer. Cookies are small storage units created when browsing websites. By tracking the user’s movement, they can bookmark where you left off and help store login information so you don’t have to retype your login data each time you visit the site. These text files are very simple and cannot execute code or access files on your computer, so there is really no need to fear a few extra cookies!

Myth #8: Leaving your phone on the charger overnight destroys the battery.

False: Since we are constantly attached to our phones throughout the day, leaving them plugged in to charge when we’re sleeping is the most convenient option. Fortunately, our phones prevent battery damage by stopping the current when fully charged. It’s still important to remove the phone case while leaving it on the charger to allow the heat to escape, since this can damage the lithium-ion battery.

Well I hope after reading this, you have acquired some useful knowledge that will arm you with both caution and confidence in your future endeavors across the information superhighway. Some additional “accessories” (don’t worry, these ones are free!) to help more completely equip your utility belt are available through various sources, some of which I previously mentioned like Note to Self and WIRED. You can also keep up with the latest tech-based news and analysis by checking out @TechCrunch on Twitter! It’s been a pleasure getting technical with you, until next time.