The psychology of mobile devices, a 12 year-old app developer, how phones make us antisocial, and more

mobile-teensThis month’s TED Talks focuses in on a subject near and dear to our thumbs—our mobile devices.

TED Talks are some of today’s most popular examples of the internet’s power to expand learning opportunities to all. They’re also fun to watch.

I picked this month’s theme because I find the subject endlessly fascinating and the talks listed here, illuminating. For educators juggling using mobile devices in their personal lives and in the classroom, the past, present, and future of the device has a special importance.  There’s plenty to learn about the psychology, anthropology, and future of the mobile device.

First, check out this very funny, very true three minute TED Talk on our “antisocial phone tricks” from social strategist Renny Gleeson, then check out our full list.

Did you miss our most recent TED Talks features? You can find them here.

(Next page: 7 mobile-focused TED Talks)

1. A 12-year-old app developer
Most 12-year-olds love playing videogames — Thomas Suarez taught himself how to create them. After developing iPhone apps like “Bustin Jeiber,” a whack-a-mole game, he is now using his skills to help other kids become developers.

2. You don’t need an app for that
While the rest of the world is updating statuses and playing games on smartphones, Africa is developing useful SMS-based solutions to everyday needs, says journalist Toby Shapshak. In this eye-opening talk, Shapshak explores the frontiers of mobile invention in Africa as he asks us to reconsider our preconceived notions of innovation.

3. The shape-shifting future of the mobile phone
Fabian Hemmert demos one future of the mobile phone — a shape-shifting and weight-shifting handset that “displays” information nonvisually, offering a delightfully intuitive way to communicate.

4. Cool tricks your phone can do
New York Times tech columnist David Pogue rounds up some handy cell phone tools and services that can boost your productivity and lower your bills (and your blood pressure).

5. Our antisocial phone tricks
Here’s one that only gets better with age–if only to prove we’ve been antisocial with our phones going back to the dawn of iPhones. If you can share three minutes for this short talk, social strategist Renny Gleeson breaks down the many ways we often put technology above interaction in the present. Try and watch the whole thing without glancing at your phone. It’s hard!

6. The anthropology of mobile phones
This one’s a few years old at this point, but Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase’s look at the psychology and anthropology of cell phones, and the way their use transcends cultural borders, is a fascinating look at technology and the human condition.

7. Your phone company is watching
What kind of data is your cell phone company collecting? Malte Spitz wasn’t too worried when he asked his operator in Germany to share information stored about him. Multiple unanswered requests and a lawsuit later, Spitz received 35,830 lines of code — a detailed, nearly minute-by-minute account of half a year of his life.