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TV can be good for you… Battle for online women hots up… Chilling out makes you a winner… Virtual worlds are a hit with kids… Identity fraud by phone…

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TV can be good for you

The unhealthy, TV watching couch potato is a commonly accepted stereotype, but according to a Journal of Health Communication study reported by Time Business, TV can actually be good for you – as long as you watch the right shows.

The study of more than 80 prime-time television viewers in the US found that those who watched a series of episodes of the hospital drama ER, in which a teenager is diagnosed with hypertension and is counselled to eat more fruit and vegetables and to get more exercise, were 65% more likely to alter their eating habits than those viewers who never saw the episodes.

Similarly, the pattern of visits to online health, fitness and wellness sites seems to track the information people are getting from TV. When Oprah Winfrey mentioned a Chinese weight loss tea on her show, visitors to a site selling the tea spiked by 20%. The fitness reality TV show, The Biggest Loser, also seems to affect traffic: over the past two years there has been an unseasonable bump in mid-September coinciding with the season premiere of The Biggest Loser.

Battle for online women hots up

A fierce online battle is being waged to capture womens’ hearts and minds, according to VentureBeat.

Sugar Publishing, a network of woman-focused blogs backed by the well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, has acquired women’s social shopping site ShopStyle in an attempt to consolidate its position in publishing for women on the web.

Sugar’s chief competitors are fast-growing sites iVillage and Glam. Glam, a magazine-style fashion and lifestyle site, claims it is the largest woman’s network, at 20 million unique viewers, while iVillage aspires to be something similar but with less slick design and interaction functions.

Glammedia, the owner of Glam and a collection of other woman-focused sites, claims to have the fastest growing network of sites anywhere on the web. That’s a big call, but if it is even close to true it suggests there are plenty of riches to be gained for the site that succeeds in attracting the biggest chunk of traffic from the female demographic.

Chilling out makes you a winner

Computer games generally work by getting the heart pumping and adrenalin racing, but a new game tool called a “personal input pod” will appeal to those who prefer to keep their cool.

According to Information Week, the personal input pod developed by Ireland-based Vyro Games is guitar pick-shaped device, held between the thumb and second finger, which reads minute changes on the player’s skin surface to determine their stress level.

The objective of games that use the pod is to win by getting your stress levels as low as possible. For example, a game called Stormchaser starts with the player watching a stormy, night scene of high winds and heavy rains. A stressed-out person can gradually chase away the clouds and bring out the sunshine by thinking relaxing thoughts, taking lots of deep breaths, or doing whatever else it takes to relax.

Other games include Relax and Race, where the racing dragon of the most relaxed player wins; and Lie Detective, which measures a person’s stress level while they are answering questions posed by other players.

Virtual worlds are a hit with kids

Although Second Life has received the most attention from marketers and the press, its traffic is low compared with the crowds at virtual worlds specifically geared for children and teenagers, writes www.eMarketer.com.

Mingling aspects of video gaming, social networking and communicating, is making virtual worlds wildly popular with kids. eMarketer says 24% of the 34.3 million US child and teen internet users will visit virtual worlds once a month in 2007. This will rise to 34% in 2008 and by 2011, 53% will do so.

Identity fraud by phone

A US company is offering people a chance to assume a new identity when making phone calls, but having a false ID appear on the phone being called.

The Los Angeles-based Ligatt Security offers spoofem.com, a service that enables callers to change their caller identification number (CID) so that a different number shows up on the phone being called. The feature also works for SMS messages, reports ITWire.

According to inventor Gregory Evans, 72% of customers are curious lovers wondering whether their soul mate or partner is cheating. We get phone calls from men and women who say, ‘I think my husband is still talking to his ex-wife, I want to be able to find out; can you help?”

It turned out Shane Warne’s wife Simone didn’t need it.

The company is also spruiking its product to debt collectors, law enforcement agencies and for anyone wanting to make an untraceable call anywhere in the world. Spoofem will also help you change your voice from male to female or vice versa. The conversation can be recorded and then emailed to your personal email address.

Should this be legal?

 

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