The Internet is For Porn: Important Information Parents Should Know

Anyone who has attended one of my workshops knows that I’m not the biggest fan of statistics. They are tough to fully track and they change at the drop of a hat. However, a conversation with a friend about kids and pornography got me a tad curious about the numbers, especially since the conversation spawned from her catching her 5 year old looking at inappropriate content online.

When it comes to pornography on the internet, there are some numbers I thought important for parents to know:

The average age of children being exposed to pornography is 11 years old according to a report released by PornHarms. As kids are receiving smart devices at younger and younger ages, this number age can be expected to lower over the next few years.

90% of pornography depicts violence against women. The Guardian documented the violence of internet pornography in an eye-opening article:

Rape Crisis South London carried out simple research that involved typing “rape porn” into Google and then quantified the results: 86% of sites that came up advertised videos depicting the rape of under-18s, 75% involved guns or knives, 43% showed the woman drugged, and 46% purported to be incest rape.

37% of the internet is pornography. Software security company Optenet did a study, looking at 4 million registered URLS.  Rougly 1.5 million of them contained pornographic materials.

Around 85% of exposure to pornography occurs in the home. While terrifying to think about, it’s actually a positive.  It’s a reminder that, as a parent, you have control of what your kids are able to access in your home. Start with constructive conversations about appropriate usage of the internet and discuss consequences for breaking these rules. Establish standards for your kids and start young to help them develop stronger morals into their teen years.

90% of internet pornography is free. In a study run by International Secure System Lab of 35,000 pornography domains found that 90% of them offered free access to content. These sites are given free content from paid porn sites in an effort to drum up business for themselves.

Have you talked to your kids about pornography? Now might be the time!

First, discussions about pornography should be a part of ongoing conversations about sex and sexuality. As they start to question gender differences and where babies comes from, use this as a gateway conversation. Continue this through the teen years as they start developing relationships with their peers. You know your child best so use your judgment.

Second, as your kids get older they are exposed to more and more of the online world. Be sure to remind them of responsible use of devices. Look into installing safeguards onto laptops, desktops and mobile devices to filter out certain content.

Third, don’t avoid the topic but don’t overreact to it. Many times I’ve heard of parents not wanted to mention a topic because they don’t want to put an idea into their kids head. Trust me, it’s there. It’s important to discuss it with them because it lets them know you have the topic on your radar and might make them this twice. Avoid overreacting as you run the risk of your child shutting down and shutting you out. Let them know you are available to answer questions.

Now’s the time for conversation! Maybe take a nice Pokemon Go walk and have a chat!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Pokémon Go: Fact and Fiction (But Mostly Fiction)

I don’t even know how to start this. Seriously, I’ve been staring at the screen for an obscene amount of time trying to start this entry. I have to admit, I’m a little annoyed. I apologize now if this is jarred but I’m getting this off my chest.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been a casual player of Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game that has taken the world by storm. I haven’t been as intense as others, I have found a small chunk of joy in world that seems to be quickly running out.

Others have found amazing benefits from getting out and playing the game (check out this article!).

With someone making literally millions of people happy, you’d think non-Pokémon fans would just leave well enough alone.

HA! You’re wrong.

The game has earned its fair share of haters and the result has been a lot of fake or exaggerated news hitting the world wide web and casting doubt on the safety of the players.

First and foremost is the personal data aspect of the app that people don’t understand at all (I’m having flashbacks to the Facebook Messenger debate). I purposely left this out of my recent entry of What Parents Should Know because I felt it didn’t need mention. People seem to think the app is out to do everything from reading your email to stealing your baby brother after you have a temper tantrum (that’s the Goblin King you’re thinking of). It’s an argument (yes, argument) that I’ve had a lot this past week alone. I’m going to dispel the rumor now:

99% of the information you’ve seen about the app collecting personal data and emails is false.

In reality the app requires some basic information like your email address and birth date for the sake of registering users (an aspect just about every social media medium requires). From there the game does require knowing your physical whereabouts for the sake of simply playing the game. It’s an augmented-reality, map-based world. It needs to be able to track your movements to play.

There was, admittedly a hiccup in the original version (which was corrected in a recent update) that made it seem that Pokémon Go was requiring “full account access.” Niantic (the company behind the game) owned up to the mistake, corrected it, and released a statement to help clarify what had happened:

We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.

Adam Reeve, the man behind the original claim, even admitted that he never tested the claims he made in his blog posts.

So please rest easy knowing that your emails and other information are safe.

Next comes the exaggerated story of the young man lured to a Pokestop and mugged at gunpoint. This one seemed so very true because it was widely covered by credible media outlets and not just the internet. But the story was exaggerated to generate views and interest in the story.

Here’s the real story directly from the victim of the attack: “I am the guy who was robbed at the Pokestop at Feise and K. In the interest of objective truth, everyone is reporting this wrong. There was never any lure. I was walking down a dark street towards a slightly out of the way pokestop and I got robbed by four kids in a black BMW. Everyone is reporting this as cunning teenagers use a lure to capture unsuspecting Pokémon players, and that’s not quite correct.”

Sorry internet.

Then there are the many stories of auto accidents as a result of drivers playing the game. One such article from CartelPress (read it here) was written as satire and was taken far too seriously and prompted the viral hashtag #DontPokémonAndDrive over this past weekend. Which, I mean, yeah… don’t Pokémon and Drive. Let’s practice common sense, but I also hope that no one would slam on the breaks in the middle of a highway for a Pidgey.

There is a great teachable moment in all of this in that you really can’t believe everything that you read on the internet and it’s important to do a little bit of research before jumping conclusions.

It is important to realize that there are some dangers to the game and the idea of “Don’t
Pokémon and Drive” should be on the top over everyone’s list. But people should take care into venturing off alone, especially at night, into unfamiliar territory. Take time to look up from your phone, looking out for others, obstacles and traffic.

Mostly, don’t let the haters bring you down. Plenty of people have tried to harp on me for playing and I am having none of it. The past month has been a rough one for a lot of people a hunting little fictional animals has been a very welcomed distraction from it all.

Now, if you don’t mind, there is a Charmander somewhere near my house and I need to beat the neighborhood children to him.

Happy hunting!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Pokémon Go

I will be the first to admit that until about a week ago, I really knew nothing about Pokémon other than the absolute basics. I never was much into the card game though I totally rocked it on my GameBoy (I might be old). Love em or hate em, those adorable little creatures are back with a vengeance!

Within homaxresdefaulturs of launching, Pokémon Go became the most popular gaming app, beating out Candy Crush by an impressive margin.

The game was released to mixed, overall, reviews due to constant app crashes and server issues. The app seems to be stabilizing and I have a feeling a good chunk of the problems were due to the insane and instant popularity.

The game is a location-based augmented reality game that allows users to hunt and capture Pokémon in the real world.

Pokémon Go has had some amazing, unexpected benefits that I think are important to know about before I get into the nitty gritty of it all.

Physical Health: In order the catch Pokémon you have to get out into the real world. As a result people are out and about a lot more. I’m an active person already but the game has definitely added to that. In addition having to get out of the house to catch Pokémon, the game requires you to be moving to perform actions like hatching captured Pokémon eggs and earning badges.

People Are Exploring Their World: Within the game are places called PokéStops where486234394 players can earn items  required for capturing and caring for their Pokémon. These stops are centered around landmarks such as art instillations and historical points. Not only are people getting out of the house but they are also exploring the world a bit more closely than before. When I was playing with a friend we decided to go for a morning walk before going to breakfast to catch some Pokémon. We ended up discovering an amazing bakery and opted for breakfast there over heading to Starbucks.

Community Impact: People have become social again! I grew up in a small town where people always said “howdy” when they passed you in the street. This mentality seems to have waned with the advent of social media an mobile devices. No one really talks to each other anymore.  Pokémon Go has changed that. While playing my friend and I encountered groups of kids who were more than happy to chat and share tips and good spots to catch some Pokémon. It was a welcome change from everyone just ignoring each other.

Cultural Impact: With PokéStops being located at places of cultural significance, places like museums have seen increased attendance since the game has launched. Many businesses have embraced this by placing “lures” (more on those in a bit) at the Stops to drive even more people to them.  Charitable organizations have gotten in on the actions by asking players to walk shelter dogs while playing adding a benefit to the player and the animal.13716248_668832679948316_2126915807547160753_n

Mental Health: With people being forced to get up and out of the house to play, many have seen a positive impact on mental health especially for those dealing with depression and social anxiety.  According to Kashmira Gander of The Independent, the social nature of the game provides easy avenues for those with social anxiety to interact with people of all backgrounds. Numerous players also reported increased motivation to exercise and improved moods. Dr. John Grohol, founder of Psych Central, stated that Pokémon Go was unique in the magnitude of people “expressing the benefits of playing video games to their real-world mental health status”. According to Grohol, the game facilitates exercise and creates a “strong reinforcement for people to go out and become more active” He also attributed the premise of the game, social interaction and fun rather than for exercise, as a key factor in its success.

With all that in mind there are some key things parents should know and be aware of before they send their kids out to catch ’em all.

Hidden and Not So Hidden Costs: While the game itself is free, there is the ability for in-app purchases so parents should be aware and set up restrictions on your child’s phone to prevent unauthorized purchases.  Additionally, the game depends and operates on constant location tracking which requires the use of your phone’s data. Be sure to monitor your child’s data usage or look at upgrading your plan to avoid overage charges.

Stranger Danger:  While it’s great that communities are coming together and people are chatting with one another, there is a danger in that as well. Encourage kids to Poke hunt in groups and avoid going into unfamiliar areas. Each PokéStop and Gym require you to be nearby and this can draw people from all walks. Be sure to set up guidelines for your kids when it comes to talking to strangers as well as curfews to help avoid issues.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings: A downside of the game is that you need to be paying attention to your screen and this can lead to some major problems. While it’s hardpokemon-go-loading-screen to sort myth from reality, there are many stories of people getting injured while playing the game. From walking into objects or, worse, into traffic, there are dangers out there.

Don’t Hunt and Drive: For teenagers, be sure to reiterate the importance of keeping the phone off while driving. No fictional creature is worth getting into an accident.

Be Respectful: The game is designed for Pokémon to spawn anywhere in the world but that doesn’t mean that we should be pulling out our phones every second of the day.  I’m personally hoping the games geofences areas like cemeteries, the Holocaust Museum , etc, places where people have, thoughtlessly, disturbed the solemn nature of the memorials looking for Pokémon.

Don’t Trespass: It’s important to be sure not to enter places that you shouldn’t be going for the sake of finding Pokémon. Remind kids to respect other people’s property and places that are off-limits.

All said and done, I see no big fault in the app aside from some safety concerns mentioned above. While many people have taken to hating on the game, I think it has been a welcome distraction from the current state of the world. People of all ages have taken to hunting Pokémon and it’s something that’s made them happy, gotten them out exercising and socializing.

Let’s get out there and be happy!

Good hunting all!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Awkward Conversations: Please Don’t Post Pictures of My Kids Online

As I mentioned in my last post, I am just months away from becoming a first-time uncle. This is an exciting time for my family as I’m sure you can imagine. We can’t be more thrilled with the idea of having a baby to spoil rotten (as I am a massive Disney nerd, that kid is going to be SO VERY SPOILED).

With my sister’s due date drawing closer, I am reminded of a question I am constantly getting from people regarding the posting of photos of other people’s kids in digital forums like Facebook and Instagram. Most of the time people are wondering how to ask their relatives and friends or even other parents not to post photos of their kids online.

ID-100339518I’m going to be blunt here. The best way to ask, is to just do it.

We now live in a culture where our first instinct in any situation is to share what is going on with those we know and love. This usually means snapping a photo and uploading it to a popular social networking site like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (obviously it isn’t limited to these three). With so many ways to capture and share moments, I can only imagine the frustrations parents may feel when it comes to their kids appearing on other people’s social media accounts.

This is what I like to call an “awkward conversation” moment. With the advent of technology and mobile communication, I have noticed these moments appear more and more. People no longer feel comfortable expressing their feelings directly towards others and will go to great lengths to avoid the conversation because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

You can’t worry about that.

This is a situation I find myself in quite often, though at this point many of my friends are used to it. At 30 years old, I am obviously at the age where I will get together with my friends either at home or elsewhere to part-take in adult beverages. While my party days are very much over, I still like to have a good time with friends.

While I am out and about, having a good time, I’m also hyper-aware of people taking pictures. As I mentioned, I’m old enough to be out drinking and having fun, but I also have an imagine to uphold. I really don’t want pictures of me drinking all over the internet, especially ones that I can’t control.

Many of my friends know my rule and always are sure to check with me before posting a picture or even before taking it. This is because I was willing to have the awkward conversation. It don’t have to be long and drawn out. Often times it’s very simply, “hey, am I in that picture? Can you please not post it.” or “Can you please check with me before you post a picture?”

Many people are completely okay with this.

This is the same type of conversation you need to have. Have it early and, if necessary, have it often.

For example. My younger sister and her husband are both in the air force and currently stationed in Japan. With my family being scattered all over, obviously we can’t be there in person to enjoy such moments as ultrasound photos and videos. The alternative, of course, is sharing through email and instant messages.

When we received the first ultrasound pictures via Facebook Messanger, the were proceeded with the message, “please don’t share these anywhere online. ” Short and sweet, message received. Any subsequent pictures have been met with the assumption that her feelings remain the same.

Obviously the birth of a baby is an amazing and wonderful occasion and I can’t wait for this little guy to make an appearance in the world. I also know that for a while, I’m only going to get to experience him through pictures so I am eternally grateful for the ability to instantly share moments with my friends and family.

I also feel that it’s a time to remember to slow down and really appreciate a moment in time. That’s a whole other rant though.

As a parent you have the right to dictate whether or not your child ends up on social media sites. Make your expectations of friends and family clear from the beginning. If they aren’t able to respect your wishes then it’s going to have to lead to them being removed from mailing lists or being able to snap a picture of the newborn. It sounds harsh but sometimes you have to put your foot down.

The same goes as your child gets older. Obviously this becomes more difficult, especially as they start to get involved in more group activities like school plays, team sports, or even a sleep over at a friend’s house. These are all fun moments that we would love to be able to capture and share. Do that! But when it comes to sharing online take a moment to remember the golden rule!

As yourself if you would want pictures of your kid posted for everyone to see online. Is the answer no? Then don’t do the same to other people’s kids.

I think it’s perfectly okay to snap a quick photo of a great moment in time so don’t get me wrong on that front. But rather than uploading it to a social site, maybe shoot it in an email or text, especially when other people’s kids are involved.

Again, simply have that conversation!

If your child appears on someone else’s social site and you’re not okay with it. Shoot them a private message or even give them a call requesting that they remove it. Don’t directly comment on the photo as this could create unwanted tension in the situation. Respect them as much as you’d like them to respect you.

When it comes to your child’s school this is a whole other ballgame. I would venture to guess that 9 out of 10 schools send home a photo release form for parents. If not, you may want to have a conversation with them regarding establishing a policy for use of your child’s name and image. To make life easier, I have posted a template on my web site for school’s to use in regards to this policy!

Be sure to actually read the fine print on these! While many schools may require a new signature for every year your child is in attendance, other’s might opt to save a tree and have one permission form for the duration of your child’s time in their school.

These policies typically do not apply to the yearbook which is considered an internal publication. If you wish for your child not to appear anywhere within the yearbook, you’ll have to contact the school directly.

So there you have it. The best course of action is to take action. Speak up and let your voice be heard!

Have you had to have this conversation with friends and family? Share your experience!

Until next time!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Image courtesy of Nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Krispy Kreme Promotes “KKK Wednesday” on Facebook

It’s that time of the week! Another fantastic teachable moment born of my one simple philosophy, “TAKE TIME TO THINK!”

A Krispy Kreme Donut location in the United Kingdom released a weeklong series of in-store events to bring in business during the midterm break for students. Included in the activities are board-games, face painting and coloring pages.

On Wednesday, however, the week of fun took a turn with a promotion entitled “Krispy Kreme Klub Wednesday” which was meant to be a day for kids to come in a decorate their own donuts. The event title was shortened to “KKK Wednesday”.

KKK is, of course, more infamously associated with the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist hate group. Users following the location on Facebook were quick to point this out once the advertisement went live.

Oops.

The gaffe apparently went unnoticed by the creator of the advertisement (seen here) and all those who approved it.KrispyKreme

“We do believe this was a completely unintentional oversight on the part of our longtime franchise partners in the U.K.,” according to a statement released by company spokesperson Lafeea Watson and I completely agree.

This was an honest, yet completely avoidable mistake if everyone involved had taken those few extra moments to think and look at the bigger picture.

The event was isolated to the singular store in Hull, United Kingdom and all promotion materials have since been removed from official social media for the store. That hasn’t stopped this story from going viral, earning it world-wide attention.

“We are truly sorry for any inconvenience or offense this misstep may have caused our fans,” the company statement says, also noting that the location would be “taking greater precautions with their publicity materials in the future.”

So again I ask everyone to learn from this mistake and always remember to Take Time To Think!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Nationwide Hates Children; or, The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up

It was just about a year ago that I found myself writing in defense of a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl (You remember the Coke commercial that seemed hell-bent on the destruction of America?). This year, it seems to be no different.

First off I feel the need to remind everyone that I don’t watch, follow, or care all that much about sports much less the yearly madness of the Super Bowl. (For the record, anyone I spoke to in Washington in January, I’m going to go ahead and say I totally called the Patriots win so there’s that!) Unlike last year I did quickly tune in to catch Katy Perry’s performance as I’m a big fan of hers.

Also, much like last year, I was unaware of any commercial-related controversy until well after they had all aired. It would seemed that the world was won over by the Budweiser commercial (I still haven’t seen it but I know puppies are involved) and the exact opposite feelings were directed towards Nationwide Insurance Company.

Let’s take a look:

The comments section on YouTube told me all I needed to know about how the online world reacted to the 45 second spot. Many called out Nationwide for being monsters and destroying a happy day. Others demanded apologies and that Nationwide pull the commercial from the internet as well as future airings.

Nationwide took to the internet and posted the following in defense of their ad:

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us – the safety and well-being of our children. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions. In fact, thousands of people visited MakeSafeHappen.com, a new website to help educate parents and caregivers with information and resources in an effort to make their homes safer and avoid a potential injury or death. Nationwide has been working with experts for more than 60 years to make homes safer. While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children anywhere.”

Nationwide,  I applaud your intent.

I personally feel that this commercial was exactly what was needed to help spark the conversation on this topic. I love conversations. I have spent the past six years, travelling the country sparking conversations. It’s my job!

I will admit that, while I don’t have kids, the commercial hit me hard and was certainly a bit of a downer as I began my morning. The loss of child is something I hope no parents has to experience. Having spent much of the past six years working in bullying prevention, I have see the pain the loss of a young person brings to families and their communities.

It is not a topic to be taken lightly.

However, it is a topic that is a reality with over 9,000 child deaths attributed each year to preventable, household accidents.

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that.”

Scrolling through the hundreds of comments on Nationwide’s YouTube channel it would seem that many are in agreement with this sentiment. Many commentators on the video felt that the message was a good one but the venue was a poor choice. The Super Bowl is a time of celebration. A time for humor. A time for half-time shows and massive brawls in the final 18 seconds of a game. A time when 114.5 million people are tuned in for commercials, I mean a football game.

An audience of 114.5 million people.

I have to admit, that there was no better time to deliver this important message.  Anyone who doesn’t see that needs to take a step back.

” The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.”

NationwideI watched the commercial a number of times before deciding to comment on the situation. Over the course of the 45 second commercial, not once was an attempt made to get me to purchase insurance from Nationwide. In fact, aside from their logo appearing at the end of the ad, I wouldn’t have had a clue that Nationwide was involved. To be honest, I didn’t see the logo until my third watch.

I focused in on the web site each time the commercial ended.

MakeSafeHappen.com

I have a bit of a mantra that I use constantly when working with both parents and students.

Take a look at the bigger picture.

This is certainly something that is not happening in the case of Nationwide versus the world. After my first viewing of the ad this morning I immediately went to the advertised website and was quite taken by the message put forward. What I saw was that great time and effort went into putting together both wonderful and important information that families may not have been aware of.

I decided to informally poll a number of friends with children who I knew were watching the Super Bowl on a number of factors surrounding the commercial. The group polled came from a wide variety of backgrounds which made for some interesting results though in the end the reactions from my friends mirrored that of many found elsewhere online.

Unlike the random YouTube comments, however, I have a bit more information on the audience demographics.

The one common thread that came from both my informal poll and the random social media comments is that no one felt the urge to go buy insurance. Which is good because it wasn’t the intent of the commercial at all. They also commented that they were too enraged to even think about visiting the website. Many felt that the site was simply going to entice them to purchase life insurance for their children.

This explains why out of the 114.5 million people watching on Super Bowl Sunday only “thousands of people visited MakeSafeHappen.com…”

Out of the 11 people who responded to my request for reaction, only one took the time to visit the MakeSafeHappen.com after viewing the commercial. It’s worth noting that this was a mother of three who works in marketing. She commented, “The marketer in me insisted on visiting the site to see how they could spin it to make me change insurance carriers. In truth, the site isn’t half bad if the parents who need these common sense lessons would actually click through ”

At the end of the day I feel that Nationwide made a bold move in an effort to open the eyes of millions around the country, perhaps around the world.  While it angered many it might inspire others to look twice while backing the car down the driveway. To be mindful of the child in the bathtub. To install locks on the cabinets containing dangerous chemicals.  The commercial was meant to be a wakeup call and for many it was.

Clearly a message that is greatly needed. In today’s news alone, two infant children were left locked in a car, unattended while their parents were at a wine tasting. (Read the story here).

So yes- Nationwide’s commercial was a downer on what is typically an upbeat and crazy day. But it was a commercial that may actually save lives.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Are Taking A Stand Against Bullying

MarvelBullyingMarvel Entertainment announced last week that  it’s mightiest heroes will be taking a stand against bullying this October.

Over the course of the month, Marvel will be releasing special Variant Covers of select comic books to show support for National Bullying Prevention  Month. The special editions will be available exclusively at Comic Book Stores and will include popular characters such as The Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America.

“The center of Marvel’s storytelling history is the eternal struggle between good and evil, with many of its greatest super heroes having to contend with – and rise above – bullying, in all its forms,” said Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics. “We hope that all our fans take a moment this month to educate themselves on the need to stop bullying among our youth.”

The following comic books, on-sale in October, will feature special  variant covers:

  • ROCKET RACCOON #4
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #20
  • AVENGERS#36
  • INHUMAN#7
  • HULK #7
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA #25
  • LEGENDARY STAR-LORD #4

With the growing popularity of Superhero films, particularly in the Marvel Universe, it is exciting to see them standing up to take part in such an important cause. I will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled in October when I visit my friends at the comic book store!

Will you be picking up your own special copies when the time comes?

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Everyone Should Know About Facebook Messenger: Myth vs Reality

It would seem that we have once again found ourselves in a position of being mad at Facebook. I’m not surprised at the issue seems to come up every other year or so. The popular social networking site will make a change, we’ll all get super mad and hate it, there will be threats of shutting down our accounts in protest, and then we get over it, carrying on as normal.

I’d like to take the time to welcome Facebook Messenger to the madness.

This first thing that I’d like to point out is that Messenger is not something new the Facebook just threw us out of left field, in face it hasFacebook001 existed since 2011. In its infancy, it was up to users whether or not they’d like to use the app for messaging or stick to the mail Facebook interface. Personally, I jumped on the messenger bandwagon sooner rather than later because it allowed me to check messages without getting distracted by other’s updates or anything from Buzzfeed.

The only big change that has come up in the past few weeks is that the use of messenger is no longer optional. In order to create a faster and more streamlined experience for users, Facebook has separated the messaging interface entirely for mobile users.

So why the move? In reaction to the backlash, Facebook responded with:

We’re committed to providing a fast, reliable and fun messaging app that anyone in the world can use to reach the people who matter to them. That’s why we’re focusing just on Messenger and moving messages out of the Facebook app. People usually respond about 20% faster when they have Messenger, and we think they’ll find both apps useful in different ways.

The two apps work flawlessly with one another. If you are using regular Facebook and click on a message, you’ll quickly be bounced over to the chat window for that message. Essentially- it’s along the lines of a Kik Messenger with the difference being you can use it to make phone calls over a data connection.

But Josh, Big Brother Is Watching!

If the rumors are to be believed- Facebook has teamed up with the NSA and is working to spy on our every move. They would argue that I’m being so positive about the App because I’m afraid they’ll come for me in the night.

Not the case at all- besides I have an army of attack cats that will protect me from NSA ninjas.

Facebook002For some reason, when looking at the permissions required of the app, people flipped out. In the last week, I received a large number of e-mails from both friends and the general public, flipping out over the app permissions.

My reaction- they’re no different from any other app you are installing on your phone. Kik, Snapchat, Tumblr- they all ask for access to your camera, photos, contacts, location, etc. What Facebook Messenger is asking for is nothing new.

To quickly break it down for you:

Camera Access: Many people really enjoy sharing moments from their lives with others. Be it a group photo with Mickey Mouse at Disney World or a quick selfie in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Facebook messenger recognizes that and wants to help. In order to send those photos to your friends, the app needs permission to access your camera to take that photo.  They are not going to remotely turn on your camera to watch you dancing around your living room whilst lip-syncing into a water bottle to the latest One Direction song.  (Note: these are all things I have personally done in the last 24 hours)

Microphone Access: another feature of the app is the ability to call your fellow users. If you’d like the person you’re calling to hear you, the app needs permission to access the microphone.

Like many other apps you are using, they are not turning on your camera or microphone when the app isn’t in use. It won’t message your friends unless you want it to and the same for phone calls.

While many of the initial reports on the messenger have been corrected to give readers the appropriate information about the app, it’s important to remember that when it comes to news on the internet,  you should try to go to the source to get the full story rather than falling into the conspiracy theorists’ traps.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Speaker Scam using UK Church as Front

In the past 6 years since I have started speaking professionally I have seen a large number of scams come through my inbox. Many are so transparent that it’s almost painful. It’s rare that a scam can fool me but this one almost got me. Almost.

ID-10079656Here is the 1st e-mail I received:

Dear Josh.

My Name is Pastor Tom Edwards from the First Baptist Church we are writing to Invite you to be our guest speaker at the up Coming First Baptist Church 2014 Anniversary which is taking place here In UK England, We are writing to invite and confirm your booking to be our
Guest speaker at up Coming First Baptist  Church 2014 Anniversary. Other Ministers Of God are coming from Different part of the World.

The Venue as follows:
39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX,
Website:http://www.newglorytabernacle.com/
Expected audience: 300 people Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
Host: PASTOR TOM EDWARDS
Topic: Innovation Management Ethics Attitude
Date: 10th Augut 2014
Theme: TIME OF FULFILLMENT
REFERENCE: EVENT BROCHURE
SIGNING OF AUTOGRAPH: ALLOWED
SELLING OF CD’S AND BOOKS: ALLOWED.
TELEPHONE: + 44 704 205 6151

The purpose of these conference is to re-brand the heart,mind,body and soul of Christians who have gone astray and are diverting their whole attention into mundane affairs and ensuring that it is possible for Christians, whether new or of long standing, to deepen their spiritual lives and gain eternal life. Also bringing a heart of deep compassion and a strong commitment to the fullness of life that is found only in the redemptive love of Christ, we are Sorry about our late invitation it is due to the fact that our Speaker had back out because of her sudden illness.

We came across your profile on http://joshgunderson.com The lord has direct us to email you for this assignment. and we say it’s up to standard and we will be very glad to have such an outstanding personality in our mist for these overwhelming gathering. With your Multi  talented speech more lives will come close to GOD. Arrangement will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material,please do not hesitate to contact us. We are taking care of your  traveling and Hotel Accommodation expenses including our Speaker fees you are bless as you honor this invitation it is a pleasure writing you.

Hope to hear from you Asap.

In His Services,
Pastor Tom Edwards
First Baptist Church

I replied back despite a few red flags going up. Strange wording on the e-mail as well as grammatical and spelling mistakes were a few. I ignored them on the grounds for the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom.

In my response I quoted travel costs and speaking fee which were agreed to without question. Because of the last minute notification for international travel, I informed “Pastor Tom”  that all payments would need to be made within two weeks in order to secure tickets and make travel arrangements.

I was told that this would be no problem and along with his reply sent me their contract. Red flags everywhere started to appear when I read their childish 1-page contract.

I replied back with my own contract/rider and said that I would send a signed copy of their along once I received mine back.

No response.

Then the next day:

Good day Josh, I understand that you are First Baptist Church’s guest for their upcoming conference, Edward Smith informed me earlier, I have undergone this process for their guests in the past as well prior to this time as well so below are the details.

I have undergone this process for people prior to this time as well so below are the details. (It is a pity though that you do not have your Swiss passort intact and up-to-date as you would have been waived for this fee).

Our Government (United Kingdom) Main Application Fee for a UK work permit is £488 and £95 for homeland fee making an overall sum of £583, You should understand that as a United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand & European citizens holding their international passport, entrance permits are at a reduced fee at rate given above, other nationalities pay more. I will do the application and payment in your name at our Consulate and send you necessary binding documents.

Usually, It takes between 1-14 weeks to get a permit depending on the category such permit may fall into, But if we process expressly and I append the application as a staff it will take just about one week and a maximum of two weeks give or take some delays in courier or so since it is categorized as ‘ministerial/religious’ under the UK Tier 5 work permit, It will take a week and a few days to process. If you are ready to proceed (which I advise you should) We would as well need you to send to us the below stated documents.

Full Name of applicant:
Passport Number:
invitation Letter from Sponsor:

Now, you will have to make the application fees payment and I will later send you the official UK TIER 5 WORK PERMIT FORM and the UKBA SCREENING FORM as an allied country citizen you do not need to fill the immigration assessment form as you are already eligible. We might only need your thumbprints at the United kingdom border on entry into the UK.

Please, be swift with your response because you know documents after been processed by the UK immigration might delay a bit, give or take 2-3days, It would be advisable you start processes a bit ahead of time.

Have a Wonderful day.

Patricia Coleman.
United Kingdom Border Agency.
N.A.

p.coleman@workmail.com
790-871-7081

At this point my e-mail had turned into a Red Flag production factory and I became weary of the whole situation.

BEHOLD THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOOGLE!

I popped Patricia Coleman, Border Agency into the search engine and the word SCAM began appearing everywhere.

As if to confirm my findings about an hour after Patricia’s e-mail, I received a third requesting that I complete the Tier 5 Work Permit paperwork and send it over. Once I had e-mailed the paperwork I would need to wire $1,000 USD in order to have the application processed.

Now hip to what was really going on, I decided to play things out just to see what happened.

At this point many e-mails had been exchanged with members of the organization and I had even spoken on the phone with one. I replied back to the request for the wire with:

Dear Phylis,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I have received your request for $1,000 to be wired in order to expedite the Tier 5 Work Permit application in time for the conference in August. As I mentioned this additional cost will be added into my already quoted fee so that there is no loss on our end.

In reviewing your request with my attorney, I must ask that the fee be covered up front by your organization.

Please let me know if this will be possible so that we may continue forward with the contracts.

Best,

Josh

Within minutes I received a phone call from “Phylis” from 321-200-1024. 321 being a Florida area code.

I was told that because of the structure of the sponsorship for the conference, I would need to pay the application fee. I reminded her that “Edward Smith” had confirmed that my payment up front wouldn’t be a problem and that the $1,000 could be taken from the fee that I would be receiving with the signed contract.

She said she would have to check with Reverend Dunning and I would hear from her soon.

I then received an e-mail from “Dunning” requesting an immediate delivery of the money.

I responded back that I would not be able to front the money and that I was hesitant to continue with the engagement because I had heard about scams from UK churches involving speakers.

I received an e-mail back reading like a Sunday sermon assuring me that there wouldn’t be a problem.

I replied back terminating the agreement and promising to report them.

People I spoke with along the way were:

Pastor Thomas Edwards, First Baptist Church England Firstbaptistchurchengland@minister.com
Reverend Phil Dunning revphildunning@gmail.com
Edward Smith eechurch@hotmail.com
Patricia Coleman UK Border Agency p.coleman@workmail.com
Reverend Brian Moody revbrianmoody199@gmail.com
Phylis Kamps 321-200-1024, phyliskamps.church@gmail.com
Reverend Michael Silver rev.michaelsilver@gmail.com

I would caution other speakers to do their due diligence when receiving requests to work internationally. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

When in doubt- GOOGLE IT!

Have you ever received a scam e-mail? Share your tale!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Protecting Your Identity in the Online World

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a great deal of time having some wonderful conversations with School Counselors at the American School Counselor Association Annual Conference. One topic that came up more often than not in conversation was the issue of identity theft.

This is something that everyone should be concerned about as no one is safe.

Back in March as I was getting ready to buy a house, I got a copy of my credit report and discovered that there was something off about it. There was a delinquency reported that was wrong a number of levels. It turns out that the reported delinquency was a scam. Thankfully I was able to get it corrected before it caused serious issues.

ID-100260836Identity theft can make it hard for a person to get a job, an apartment, credit or even utilities. There are very simple steps you can take to protect yourself from this issue.

How can I protect my identity?

At Home:

  • keep financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe, secure place
  • shred any paperwork, bills, etc that contain your personal or medical information
  • collect mail from your mailbox as soon as possible, if you are going out of town, be sure to have the post office hold your mail or have a neighbor collect it for you

Conducting Business

  • Only give your Social Security number if you absolutely have no choice. As the requestor if another form of identification can be used.
  • Never give out your personal information to someone who calls or e-mails you.

Digitally

  • take care in creating passwords. Use numbers and symbols when you can. Change passwords regularly.
  • do not respond to e-mails or other messages take ask for personal or banking information
  • when using a public computer or network, do not conduct any personal business like logging into financial accounts or purchasing things

How will I know if my identity has been stolen?

Read your bills and account statements. Keep an eye out for:

  • purchases not made by you or anyone else that has access to your account
  • suspicious withdrawals
  • a change of address verification that you did not initiate
  • regular bills have stopped arriving

If something seems out of sorts report it immediately.

The best thing to do is regularly check your credit reports. You receive one free report every year from each of the three major reporting bureaus.  Rather than getting all three at once consider one every four months. This will better allow you to see when there are changes and you can appropriately take action.

Have any tips for protecting your identity? Leave them in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Image courtesy of Hyena Reality/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net