Are you an addict? Turns out we're all tech junkies

How many times have you looked at your phone today?

Chances are you're looking at it right now.

Before you try and deny you're addicted, here are some stats to consider:

Australian men unlock their phones more than anyone in the world - on average 45 to 46 times a day, while for Australian women it is around 42 times.

Those figures have been calculated by AntiSocial, an app developed by Melbourne software company Bugbean, to monitor people's use of social media.

It is a free app with no ads that is only available on Android because the creators say Apple does not allow such monitoring, but the idea is to encourage users to put down their devices.

Australians spend around two hours a day on apps

According to AntiSocial's developer Chris Eade, Australian men and women spend about two hours a day on their phones, and that is not including use for music streaming, video streaming, or making calls - that is pure Facebook, web surfing, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat.

VIDEO: Watch the discussion between Emma Alberici, Adam Atler and Katina Michael (Lateline)

Adam Alter, from the Stern School of Business, has written a book called Irresistible - why we can't stop checking, scrolling, clicking and watching.

He told Lateline around 50 per cent of the adult population has some form of behavioural addiction.

"I think you can ask yourself if you have a problem and you'll know," he said.

"[People] feel that their lives are being encroached upon by devices, their social lives, maybe their relationships with their loved ones and friends. They're not experiencing nature. They're not exercising."

Our boredom threshold at rock bottom

Mr Alter said smartphones have changed human behaviour so much that we no longer allow ourselves to experience being bored.

"Our boredom threshold has declined to the point where you'll get in an elevator for five seconds, take out your phone," he said.

Hooked on social media

All in the Mind zooms in on the relationship between social media use and our mental health.


"Boredom is very important for productivity, for creativity and new ideas, and if you never allow yourself to be bored, you will never have those ideas."

Mr Alter has written about a private school near Silicon Valley that uses no technology, yet surprisingly 75 per cent of the students' parents work in the tech sector.

"You'd think their children would be the biggest users of tech. But what you actually find, it's the reverse that a lot of these tech titans refuse to let their kids near technology," he said.

"Steve Jobs in 2010 in an interview said things like, 'you should use this device, but we do not allow it in our home and we won't let our kids near it'. He was talking about the iPad."

How to break up with your device

Katina Michael, from the University of Wollongong's School of Computing and IT, specialises in online addiction, and she told Lateline that tech companies have a lot to answer for.

"I think it's extremely hypocritical," she said.

"The laptop's not made you smarter and more intelligent. I think the companies that Adam was talking about need to recheck their ethics and I think our children need to stop being sold the wrong story about what is going to make their future brighter. We have a lot to answer for as academics."

Professor Michael had this advice for tech addicts looking to wean themselves off their devices:

"Think about replacing the activities that you have done online with offline activities, whether it's going for physical exercise, joining a community group or just getting a job, or just speaking with your family and making real food instead of playing a game about making food," she said.

If you're still questioning whether or not you're addicted, compare how you stack up to AntiSocial's biggest user.

"Our biggest user we have at the moment is a woman in America who uses her phone for 7.5 hours a day, every day on average," Mr Eade said.

"That's a full time job."


The Canadian Press News Look- Ahead List from June 30-July 6

EDITORS: Following is a list of news events for Sunday, June 30 to Saturday, July 6, 2013: x-denotes wire, y-denotes picture, z-denotes graphics coverage. Copy from other events based on merit and availability. All times local unless otherwise noted. Queries about these events and stories in The Canadian Press report should be directed to the departments listed below (all phone numbers 416 area code):

Main Desk (National News) 507-2150; Sports Desk 507-2154; Ontario Desk 507-2159; Photo Desk 507-2169; Specials Desk (Syndicated Copy) 507-2152; IT Desk (Technical Trouble) 507-2099 or 1-800-268-8149.

G3 Drone Team Logo, Rev 3.png
TORONTO _ Ryerson University holds a symposium on drones and their potential impact on everyday life. Some panellists are Avner Levin (Ted Rogers School of Management's Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute), Katina Michael (associate professor at the School of Information Systems and Technology in Australia) and Alexander Hayes (co-founder of Drones For Good). (9 a.m. at Ted Rogers School of Management, 575 Bay St. (entrance from 55 Dundas St. W.) 9th floor, TFS 3-176)

Citation: CP, June 28, 2013, "The Canadian Press News Look- Ahead List from June 30-July 6", The Canadian Press.

Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Bernie Goldie. 29/04/2009

Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Welcome to the brave new world where national security concerns have presented governments with the justification to introduce surveillance on people on an unprecedented scale and where human chip implants are on the rise.

Ominous scenarios going beyond what was once predicted in novels such as George Orwell’s 1984 are brought to life in a new book, Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants, by University of Wollongong (UOW) academics Dr Katina Michael and, Dr M.G. Michael.

The book details the social implications of technology and how new emerging innovations are completely changing the rules of engagement. In 2003, for instance, a family volunteered to officially receive the commercial VeriChip implant for an emergency service application. Such applications are on the rise especially in the United States.



The book was largely written during a time of global geo-political and economic turbulence when the world witnessed a rise in a new kind of terrorism and also large-scale emergencies related to natural disasters and looming pandemics.

The authors highlight that not all of the latest innovative techniques should be viewed negatively. For example, electronic health monitoring solutions are helping doctors gather accurate and timely medical data about their patients and their needs. And in the area of criminal intelligence, GPS tracking units are being used by law enforcement agencies to gather evidence towards convicting suspects of criminal activities or keeping track of parolees who have been released from prison.

The new and emerging technologies however, do carry with them serious implications for privacy, trust, control, and especially human rights. It was as recent as December 2008, that Indonesia’s Papua dropped its plans to microchip about 5,000 HIV/AIDS patients in order to monitor their actions. This raises major concerns about the application of invasive technology by institutions of higher authority. It also raises issues about the application, validity, and viability of the technology in a variety of usability contexts.

Automatic identification has evolved to use techniques that can identify an object or subject without direct human intervention – such devices include bar codes, magnetic-strip, integrated circuit, biometric, radio-frequency and nanotech-based identification.

Dr Katina Michael’s research interests are in the areas of automatic identification, location-based services, emerging mobile technologies, national security and their respective socio-ethical implications. She is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology at UOW, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and on the publications committee of the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.

Dr M.G. Michael is an Honorary Senior Fellow in UOW’s School of Information Systems and Technology and a member of the American Academy of Religion. A theologian and historian with broad cross-disciplinary qualifications, Dr Michael provides expertise on ethical issues and the social implications of technology.

He coined the word ‘überveillance’ which this year was voted top in the ‘technology’ category in Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year search. Dr Michael defines the emerging concept of überveillance as “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body”.

Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants (514pp) has been published by Information Science Reference. The book features seven full-length interviews with notable scientists, including Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading and Professor Christofer Toumazou, Director of the Biomedical Institute at Imperial College. Also featured is Mr Amal Graafstra, the world’s most recognised hobbyist implantee.

Citation: Bernie Goldie, April 29, 2009, "Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions", UOW Media Release,

Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'

All Australians could be implanted with microchips for tracking and identification within the next two or three generations, a prominent academic says. 

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

Michael G Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Information Systems and Technology, has coined the term "uberveillance" to describe the emerging trend of all- encompassing surveillance.

"Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr Michael told ninemsn. 

Microchips are commonly implanted into animals to reveal identification details when scanned and similar devices have been used with Alzheimers patients. US company VeriChip is already using implantable microchips, which store a 16-digit unique identification number, on humans for medical purposes. 

"Our focus is on high-risk patients, and our product's ability to identify them and their medical records in an emergency," spokesperson Allison Tomek said. "We do not know when or if someone will develop an implantable microchip with GPS technology, but it is not an application we are pursuing."

Another form of uberveillance is the use of bracelets worn by dangerous prisoners which use global positioning systems to pinpoint their movements. But Dr Michael said the technology behind uberveillance would eventually lead to a black box small enough to fit on a tiny microchip and implanted in our bodies. 

This could also allow someone to be located in an emergency or for the identification of corpses after a large scale disaster or terrorist attack. "This black box will then be a witness to our actual movements, words — perhaps even our thoughts —-and play a similar role to the black box placed in an aircraft," he said. 

He also predicted that microchip implants and their infrastructure could eliminate the need for e-passports, etags, and secure ID cards. "Microchipping I think will eventually become compulsory in the context of identification within the frame of national security," he said.
Although uberveillance was only in its early phases, Dr Michael's wife, Katina Michael — a senior lecturer from UOW's School of Information Systems and Technology — said the ability to track and identify any individual was already possible.

"Anyone with a mobile phone can be tracked to 15m now," she said, pointing out that most mobile phone handsets now contained GPS receivers and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers. "The worst scenario is the absolute loss of human rights," she said. 

Wisconsin, North Dakota and four other states in the US have already outlawed the use of enforced microchipping. "Australia hasn't got specific regulations addressing these applications," she said. "We need to address the potential for misuse by amending privacy laws to ensure personal data protection."

Uberveillance has been nominated for Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year 2008.


Citation: Josephine Asher, "Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'",, January 30, 2009.

Addendum: The following comment was provided but was not included in the final production of the article for reasons of space and readability. I provide here regardless.

  • "Technology is not foolproof. That’s one of the paradoxes of these surveillance systems," Katina Michael said. "Our ethical and legislative discourse lags far behind the diffusion and application of location based services. "There needs to be some public discourse and debate."

  • Dr Katina Michael recently received a grant from the Australian Research Council to research and propose new regulations to address these new technologies. "Implants is only one small component of the research - the main things we’re investigating relate to consumer mobile location records and data protection, socio-ethical dilemmas related to social networking applications based on the tracking of other human beings and privacy.

  • "Where do we stop and where do we begin? We have to be very careful at this early point as the new capabilities and their effects on society are relatively untested," Katina said.

Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year

16 Jan 2009 | Kate McIlwain

(say 'oohbuhvayluhns)
noun. an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology
that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human
body. Also, überveillance.

A word invented by UOW researchers has made it into the Macquarie Dictionary and, along with 91 other new words, is in the running to become the 2008 Macquarie Word of the Year.

Uberveillance in practice: Mr Amal Graafstra has two radiofrequency

The word uberveillance was coined in 2006 by UOW Honorary Senior Fellow Dr MG Michael and the concept has been further developed together with UOW senior lecturer Dr Katina Michael.

The first time the term was used by Dr Michael was in a guest lecture he delivered on the “Consequences of Innovation”.

Drs Michael and Michael had been researching the trajectory of ‘beneath-the-skin’ surveillance technologies that could identify and locate individuals.

The duo said the word simply ‘came out’ in a moment of inspiration, when Michael was searching for words to describe the embedded technologies. They said the term “surveillance” didn’t describe the full extent of the technological capabilities available today.

“Michael could find no other term but to bring together the German prefix “über” with the French root word “veiller” to describe the exaggerated surveillance conducted by governments in the name of national security,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“Michael has always had an affinity with words from some earlier studies in linguistics and his
success in having his poetry published in a number of Australia’s major literary journals.”

“We needed a word to describe the profoundly intrusive nature of such technologies and it was no longer about Big Brother looking down, but rather about Big Brother on the inside looking out,” she said.

Some research concerning uberveillance has so far included studies on the privacy, trust and
security implications of chip implants (e.g. Alzheimer’s patients), the socio-ethical implications of pinpoint location based services, an exploration of the factors motivating ‘underground
implantees’ to embed technology in their body; and looking at the trade-offs between privacy,
value and control in radio-frequency identification applications like e-passports and e-tollways.

The term and associated research has attracted attention from the media and academic community in its three-year lifespan, but being put into the Macquarie Dictionary has special significance. 

“To get it recognised in Australia’s official dictionary was for us an absolute thrill,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“It clearly evidences to the impact of our work… especially given the list of words is international and includes terms that have been in use for much longer.

“We do not know who nominated the word, or how it got onto the list, but it is without a doubt one of the outcomes we will hold as a major achievement,” she said.

2008 Word of the Year is awarded to the word that gains the most votes from the public – so
Katina and Michael are urging UOW staff and students to log on, improve their vocabularies, and support UOW research.

How to vote:

  1. Go to the Word of the Year page.
  2. Click on VOTE NOW and scroll to the TECHNOLOGY tab.
  3. Click on the Uberveillance button.
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. Press submit.

Citation: Kate McIlwain, January 16, 2009, "Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year", UOW Media,

Take Two: Dr Katina Michael & Sarah Fusco

In Summer 2006/0 7, Dr Katina Michael, a senior lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Wollongong, and her undergraduate student, Sarah Fusco compiled a paper in just 10 weeks on the ethical implications of location-based services for humancentric tracking and monitoring in Summer2006/07. This paper was subsequently published in a high-profile European journal. But their greatest achievement was their newfound friendship...

Katina on Sarah & her career

Dr Katina Michael was ecstatic when she discovered Sarah Fusco had applied for a research scholarship she was offering for the 2006/07 summer. Katina had already met Sarah by chance a couple of months earlier while filling in for a colleague's class.

Katina Michael

Katina Michael

That day, some of the students were presenting for their assessments and I had the opportunity to mark Sarah's seminar," she recalls. "It was probably the best seminar I had ever seen in an undergraduate degree." Still impressed with the young lady's efforts the next day, Katina sent Sarah an email to congratulate her on a class‑topping mark

Katina was confident from the beginning that Sarah would fit the mold as an enthusiastic scholarship recipient and diligent research assistant. And she was right. After just 10 weeks of collaboration, the research duo completed a 60-page paper that was recently published in a high impact, European computer science journal.

"It's not very often you'll find an undergraduate student who has had their work published in a major European journal," says Katina. "If I can hold onto her I will -- I would really love to supervise her if she pursues a PhD. And after uni as well -- I consider her as a friend."

Katina says it's students like Sarah who have really unleashed and solidified her passion for teaching. "When the phone rings, it's not disgruntled clients or customers, but students who are cooperative, modest and humble, and willing to learn. It's not about the money, it's about the people."

But Katina never contemplated a career in teaching when studying her Bachelor of Information Technology at the University of Technology, Sydney. From the outset, she was so determined to make her mark in the industry and defy doubts from family and peers that as a married woman, she would struggle to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated field.

"Because I was married at 18, my family immediately thought I would have 10 kids straight away," the now mother-of-two laughs. "But I ignored all those comments. There is room for children and a husband in your career if you’re a woman. In fact, they’re my biggest inspiration."

This attitude has helped Katina achieve as a dynamic woman employed in computer science. She was employed full-time before the age of 21 with multinational communications corporation, Nortel Networks. At this young age, Katina also already had two other professional work placements under her belt.

Despite commencing her graduate position at Nortel Networks in 1995 as an engineer, Katina’s versatility and initiative saw her create her own position as the company’s market and network analyst for the Asia-Pacific region.

During her time with Nortel, Katina quickly became used to walking into board rooms packed with over 50 males and the occasional female marketing staff. But she will never forget one of her first major board meetings which was probably the most intimidating experience of her career.

"I was only 22 and I literally walked into a room of 65 males who all worked for Nortel," she recalls. "They were all wearing suits and I rocked up about 10 minutes late in my jeans and a casual blouse. When I opened the door, I had 65 sets of eyes of men in their 40s, 50s and 60s staring at me and they were not happy."

Katina says since joining the University of Wollongong as a lecturer in 2002, she has observed a growing gender balance in the computer science subjects she teaches. "But there have been classes that I have taught in which there were only male students," she says.

Katina believes that females are a valuable asset in the computer science industry. "As a director at Nortel Networks once said, women are incredibly talented multi-taskers and lateral thinkers. He said the industry should be a big thing for working mothers and females generally."

Sarah on Katina & her studies

Sarah Fusco can still remember Dr Katina Michael's reply to her application for a summer scholarship in 2006. "She was so excited that I had chosen her topic to pursue over summer and seemed to have seen potential in me which I felt I did not have."

Sarah says it is this confidence in her students that makes Katina such a charismatic teacher. "Katina has a sincere vested interest in ensuring her students not only pass, but also that they learn," she says. "She comes at her position from a personal perspective, with an objective more far reaching than the outcomes of any syllabus." Sarah experienced this for herself over summer 2006/07 when Katina, as her research partner, helped her not only build her knowledge in the world of IT, but also further develop confidence in herself and her work.

"Over the summer Katina would discuss the topics with me as though we had equal knowledge of the area, which was not, and still is not the case. Katina was the ever patient supervisor, one hundred percent confident in me getting the work done with what seemed to be complete faith in my ability to do the work -- something I, myself barely had."

Sarah was especially amazed at Katina's continued patience, even when she lost the only copy of an important interview for their paper which was conducted in London.

"I was transcribing the interview conducted by Katina and had in my possession the one tape which the interview was on. However, I was distracted by talking to a friend in the library and I left it there."

Sarah contacted Katina the next day hoping there was a back-up copy. There wasn't. In the end the tape was found, but Sarah says it was Katina’s calm and forward-looking attitude that really helped them overcome the hiccup so smoothly.

"The email I got back from Katina was very nice. She comforted me and told me not to feel bad."

In the end, co-authoring an internationally published article with Katina has been one of the most rewarding learning curves of Sarah’s undergraduate double degree in Information and Communication Technology and Law.

"I initially wanted to go in the area of physics or mathematics however decided to study information and communication technology," she says. "I was warned by my father, an engineer, at the time that it would be hard to compete in the IT industry, especially because of all the males who had a lot of experience with computer sciences."

But like Katina, Sarah was adamant that she was capable of competing in a traditionally male dominated course. And she sees her studies in law as a wise decision as “the intersection of the two degrees is offering new and exciting areas of study.”

Sarah has been the only female in some of her IT classes, however, she perceives this as an opportunity rather than setback. “Especially in the last two years of my degree, I was able to see myself on an equal footing with my male classmates, and not only offer help to them, but also ask for help from them.” It’s all about perception and attitude to learning, she says.

While Sarah is away on student exchange in Antwerp, Belgium for the Autumn 2008 semester, she is eager to complete her Honours thesis on the social-ethical implications of humancentric monitoring and tracking next Spring. She says she couldn’t have chosen a better supervisor than Katina.

"At first Katina was only my teacher, then she became my supervisor, and then my friend," she says. "I feel so lucky to have fallen in her path and to have chosen her topic for my summer research project. Next semester I will complete my Honours project with her, and after that, we’ll see whether she can still tolerate me."

This article is written by Amanda Madruga, Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies -  Bachelor of Laws student at the University of Wollongong who interviewed Katina and Sarah.

Citation: Amanda K. Madruga, "Take Two: Dr Katina Michael and Sarah Fusco", WISENET, Women in Science Enquiry Network Vol. 77 (2008), Available at: