The Skype Solution for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The other day I was sitting in my neighborhood Starbucks surrounded by the chatter of conversation and people hunched over their laptops or newspapers. At one table, however, something remarkable was going on. A woman was sitting in an armchair, her laptop perched on a table in front of her. She was having an exuberant conversation — in sign language. Not a sound came from her except for an occasional guffaw, but her conversation was so animated you almost felt you …

Adult Children: Put the Phone Away and Let’s Talk

As a college professor, I made a radical decision about a year ago: I banned smartphones and laptops during class. Honestly, I can’t compete with Facebook or an Internet flash sale or texts from friends. My students now take their notes the old-fashioned way with pen on paper. And it turns out that students who take notes by hand learn better. Now I’d like to do the same with cellphones at home and social gatherings. The biggest generation gap is …

Are We People or Are We PPL?

Am I the only person left on earth who prefers hearing someone laugh instead of reading LOL? The 40-year-old man I’ve started dating must think I’m pretty funny because he texts me LOL a lot. In fact, he texts me all the time. His hearts and smiley faces look sweet on my cellphone, but the acronyms he uses often send me searching on the Internet for what the heck he is saying to me. It can be confusing. For example, CYA …

What’s Happened to Thank-You Notes?

The holiday gifts and checks have been sent and received … or have they? When our children were growing up, we hounded them to write thank-you notes. Today, however, notes of appreciation seem to be a lost art. Millennials, in particular, seem oblivious to the rules of etiquette. USA Today dubbed them “awful millennial manners.” Considering that many digital natives see nothing wrong with breaking up via text or emailing a condolence letter, it’s not surprising that thank-you notes rank …

Give Yourself the Gift of Time: Unsubscribe

Do you return to work from holidays and vacations to find dozens or hundreds of emails? I do, but I’m doing something about it: I’m unsubscribing from any email I don’t actually want or need. I figure once I’m done, I’ll have about 10 minutes a day back — about an hour a week for self-improvement or daydreaming. A few years ago, I was ready to give up on email altogether. Spammers made it nearly impossible to find the messages that …

Learning a Second Language at Any Age Can Slow Brain Aging

I lived in Stockholm for two years after college and doggedly learned Swedish, even though most Swedes speak beautiful English. Not only could I communicate better with then-tiny (now giant) Swedish nephews, turns out it was a good move for my brain. Learning a second language – even as an adult – helps protect the brain from aging,  says a new study published in the Annals of Neurology. “Learning a language later in life is a challenge but is very, very good for …