What Parents Should Know About the Hot Coil Challenge

It wasn’t too long ago that that I sat down on my couch in front of my laptop and wrote a post warning parents about the dangers of a scary new viral trend, The Tide Pod Challenge.

I finished writing, closed my laptop and thought to myself, “that’s it, we can’t get any stupider than this.”

I was wrong.

Please pardon me for being slightly more candid in this post than I normally would be but I’m honestly baffled by the fact that I’m writing yet another post about a “challenge” that makes me question everything I know about humanity.

I just made the mistake of checking my e-mail and I received an article talking about a potential new viral challenge: the Hot Coil Challenge.

I very much refuse to share footage or even photos from the initial video daring viewers to follow suit for two reasons. 1) There is no way I’m giving this live-action Beavis and Butthead any more attention than they deserve and 2) it’s painfully graphic and just painful to watch.

The challenge first appeared on Reddit when the video surfaced. A young man is standing over an electric stove complete with coils. The burner is on and bright read from the heat.

“See that hot {expletive} coil?” he asks the cameraman.

“Yeah. We’ve got your face too. You reaction will be priceless.”

The young man then places his forearm on the hot coil, which immediately begins steaming and he begins screaming.

In a snap it’s over and he proudly displays his smoldering, third-degree burn to the camera.

As of sitting to write this, the video I’m referring to is the only one out there. Many Reddit users condoned the challenge, calling it what it is, stupid. I’m hoping that this whole things ends where it began, with these two Darwin Award-winners doing what they can for 15-minutes of internet fame.

However, I think it’s important that parents are mindful of the potential for this video to lead to a trend of copycats. Get a conversation started early and get ahead of them finding out about this on the internet. Ask them what they know about the challenge and if there understand the dangers of such actions.

In just a few seconds the young man in the video received a third-degree burn. This type of burn reaches into the fat layer beneath the skin. Burned areas may be charred black or white. The skin may look waxy or leathery. Third-degree burns can destroy nerves, causing numbness.

Complications from this or any type of burn can include:

  • Burns can leave skin vulnerable to bacterial infection and increase your risk of sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening infection that travels through the bloodstream and affects your whole body. It progresses rapidly and can cause shock and organ failure.
  • Low blood volume.Burns can damage blood vessels and cause fluid loss. This may result in low blood volume (hypovolemia). Severe blood and fluid loss prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the body.
  • Dangerously low body temperature.The skin helps control the body’s temperature, so when a large portion of the skin is injured, you lose body heat. This increases your risk of a dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia). Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat.
  • Breathing problems.Breathing hot air or smoke can burn airways and cause breathing (respiratory) difficulties. Smoke inhalation damages the lungs and can cause respiratory failure.
  • Burns can cause scars and ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids).
  • Bone and joint problems.Deep burns can limit movement of the bones and joints. Scar tissue can form and cause shortening and tightening of skin, muscles or tendons (contractures). This condition may permanently pull joints out of position.

 

As I mentioned, this challenge has yet to receive “viral” status, but the video itself has. I would like to think that this single video would be enough to deter anyone from recreating something like this but I said the same thing in the early moments of the Tide Pod Challenge so really anything is possible.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central 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.

Massachusetts Couple Victim of Strange Amazon Scam

In October of 2017, Mike and Kelly Gallivan of Acton, Mass started receiving free mystery packages from Amazon. What started as a fun surprise has turned into something of an annoyance for the couple as these packages have continued to arrive at a rate of one or two a week ever since.

My initial reaction, like many, was BRING ON THE FREE THINGS! The couple was receiving items like phone chargers, USB fans and other cheap items.

Turns out that the two may be unwitting accomplices in a scam in an effort to manipulate buyer reviews on the Amazon web site.

The two have contacted Amazon and learned that all of the orders were paid for by gift card. This method doesn’t require a sender’s name, address or other information.

Here’s how the scam works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card – no identifying information there – and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.

The sending of the actual items boosts the review’s validity as it earns the marking of “verified review” meaning that Amazon can vouch that this person actually ordered the item in question. Amazon then highlights verified reviews on the product page and gives better ranking to items with more verified reviews.

Sadly, there is no way of knowing how the Gallivans, both retired nurses, fell victim to this scam. The likelihood is that at one point or another they ordered from the perpetrating company and their address was then used to perpetuate this scam.

I encourage online shoppers to make sure they are shopping Amazon to choose items that are fulfilled by Amazon rather than a third-party. You can see if this is the case by taking a look at the page either in the “add to cart” area or under the price in the item description.

This will limit the exposure of your information to third parties.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central 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 the Tide Pod Challenge

I’m going to be honest- when news about this started slowly making its way into my various social media feeds, I thought it was just a joke. Mostly because I am familiar with the following sketch video from the site College Humor which was created and released in early 2017. (You can view it here)

In the video, originally titled “Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods”, we see a young man who is tempted to eat from a bowl of free laundry pods that have been left as samples. Even after researching whether or not the pods would have a harmful effect (they will) he gives into temptation and chows down on multiple pods. Smash cut to him foaming at the mouth on a stretcher uttering that he has no regrets.

The good folks at College Humor, in light of recent events have updated the video description with the following: “In light of recent news reports of idiot teens actually eating laundry pods, we want to make very clear that our position is the title of this video: DON’T EAT THE LAUNDRY PODS, you moron. Not even a little tiny bit, to impress your dumb friends or the internet. You will get poisoned and die.”

They have even go so far as to change the name of the video to: Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods (Seriously. They’re Poison.)

Jokes about chowing down on the pods date back to as early as 2015 with an article appearing on the satirical news site The Onion. The article “So Help Me God, I’m Going To Eat One Of Those Multicolored Detergent Pods” is told from the perspective of a young child who is hell-bent on consuming the pods.

Joking has morphed into a frightening reality with over 10,500 reports of child exposure to detergent pods coming into poison control centers in 2017.

The desire for viral internet fame has taken a dark turn as of late with many teens taking what is being refered to as the “Tide Pod Challenge”, video-taping themselves attempting to eat the pods and posting them to social media sites.

Quick Side Note: I will simply be referring to videos I have seen rather than directly linking to them as I do not want to promote the viewing of them as it really just encourages this kind of nonsense. Those curious enough are welcome to search for the challenge on YouTube though I highly advise refraining for both the above reason and for the sometime graphic content you will find.

UPDATE: Social media sharing site like YouTube have started cracking down on Tide Pod Challenge videos and have been removing them. Facebook and Instagram have followed suit. All three platforms site the user guidelines prohibiting content depicting users harming themselves.

Some videos show some users simply placing the pods in their mouths for a few moments while others show teens biting down and bursting the gel portion of the pod. One video showed a teen going so far as to swallow the entire pod whole.

Others show more creative ways of consuming the pods including on pizza and inside a hamburger.

While some of these videos may seem harmless on the surface, they are not showing the true effects of what consuming laundry detergent can do.

Teens run the risk of chemicals burns on their lips, mouth or in their esophagus. Consuming laundry detergent can also cause vomiting and other serious medical problems. The dissolvable membrane surrounding the soap, if consumed, can cause damage to your nervous system, which can lead to fatigue, breathing trouble, and even cardiac arrest or coma.

Some Additional Science:

Detergent – which is used to break up components of waste, is composed of a mixture of synthetic chemicals – and their most important ingredients are surfactants.

Surfactants, long-chain molecules that attach both to water and grease, form “supermolecules” when they are dissolved in water.

Our mouths and digestive systems are full of water – as well as fats. And having these aggressively stripped away from your digestive system is harmful.

However, according to a report by a scientific branch of the European Commission, “in small quantities, surfactants have low oral acute toxicity” and usually just cause an irritating effect on mucous membranes.

But if a higher dose is consumed, the effects can become much more severe.

According to the report, “Manifestations may include vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhoea.”

Additionally, “In rare cases, vomiting or formation of considerable amounts of foam in the mouth involve an aspiration risk” – or the risk of becoming unable to breathe properly.

While the more severe risks associated with consuming surfactants are more likely to affect elderly, young children, or those with weakened immune systems, even healthy adults can suffer side effects.

And Tide pods also contain bleach – an oxidizing agent.

When consumed, which it should never be, bleach can cause burns to your digestive tract, which can induce vomiting.

What Parents/Educators Should Do?

As usual my best advice is to have a conversation with your kids. Ask them if they have heard about the challenge and are aware of the severe health risks associated with it. It’s important not to shy away from discussing these stories out of fear of putting ideas into their heads about giving it a try. Them knowing that you are aware of these kinds of stories puts your voice in the back of their head should they be tempted to give it a try.

This challenge is no laughing matter and has resulted in 6 deaths and multiple hospitalizations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported six adults suffering from cognitive impairment, along with two children, have died as a result of ingesting the pods.

Those deaths were initially reported by Consumer Reports after filing a Freedom of Information Act Request with the CPSC.

Tide Is Taking Initiative to Prevent Further Tragedy

In early 2016 Tide released a safety video regarding the Pods: How to Keep Your Child Safe and Your Laundry Clean and have since dedicated a page of their web site about safe handling of the pods. The web site lists some of the following as safety measures:

  • In addition to keeping products out of reach of children, to ensure child safety, keep products in their original containers with the labels intact.
  • After each use, completely close the container, and immediately store the container in an appropriate location out of reach of children.
  • Choose child-resistant products like Tide PODS® Child-Guard™ Pack whenever possible.
  • Child proof cabinets and drawers when it comes to storing household cleaning and laundry items. For further information, please visit Safe Kids Worldwide website.
  • Keep laundry pacs out of reach of children.
  • When caring for an individual living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, all cleaning products — including laundry detergents – should be secured in a locked cabinet or closet when not in use.

Additionally the following safety precautions are listed in the event of exposure or consumption of laundry detergent:

  • Unintended exposure to or skin contact with laundry products usually causes no serious medical effects.
  • If exposure to the skin or clothing occurs, remove contaminated clothing and rinse skin well with water.
  • If a product gets in the eye(s), then rinse immediately with plenty of water for 15 minutes and seek medical advice as needed.
  • If a product is swallowed, drink a glass of water or milk and contact the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or doctor immediately. Do not induce vomiting.
  • Following these laundry safety steps will help keep your home as safe as possible. Know what to do before unintended exposure happens. Read the product safety information provided on the package.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central 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.

Cyberbullying: We Still Need to Be On Alert

Truth be told, tracking down any solid numbers on cyberbullying has proven hard. I know because I have spent the better part of the night searching for them. In all of this, I have found many conflicting statistics on the subject. This is mostly because the surveys being run are among smaller, control demographics.

One thing that I can say for certain simply based on recent news stories is that issues of cyberbullying have been on the rise over the last year.

In Pennsylvania police are investigating the death of a 9th grade student, Julia Morath, stating that bullying may have pushed her to commit suicide. In Michigan, 11-year-old Tysen Benz committed suicide after being pranked on social media. And in California, two Marines (out of almost 500 being investigated) are facing punishment in a sex-shaming and cyberbullying incident.

While great strides have been made over the past decade to put an end to bullying, these stories only stand to prove that we need to continue working towards safer schools, communities and cyberspace for our kids.

Now, more than ever, is a time when parents and educators need to come together to bring this topic back into the spotlight in schools and encourage students to be on the lookout for bullying behavior and work together to put an end to it.

So many times issues of bullying are a flash in the pan conversation. While assemblies, rallies and awareness weeks are a great start they should never be an end game, they need to be the start of something bigger.

One of my biggest goals for 2017 is to find ways to continue to work with schools and communities to continue the conversations begun during my visits.

With the school year winding down over the next few weeks, I encourage teachers to find ways to bring lessons on bullying into the classroom before students are set off for the summer months. All too often we start to see incidents of cyberbullying spike while students are on break from school.

Bullies don’t take a vacation.

Plant the seed in their heads now to take care of themselves and their community during this time outside of school.

Now is also a good time to start looking at programs to bring in during the early months of the coming school year. September is “Back to School Month” as well as home to “Suicide Prevention Week.” October is “Bullying Prevention Month” as well as “Cyber Security Month” as well as home to “World Day of Bullying Prevention”, GLAAD’s “Spirit Day” and “National Character Counts Week.”

Take advantage of these opportunities to get students energized and use them as a launching point for continued conversations throughout the year.

From there it is important to keep that conversation going. Have student create posters to hang around the school highlighting the messages they learned. Find teachable moments from the news to help keep them aware of issues happening in real-time in the real world.

Over the coming weeks and leading into the new school year, I will be posting more on this and many more topics so please be sure to follow or subscribe to stay updated!

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.

Burger King Takes Over Homes with Invasive Commercial

Fast food giant Burger Kind managed to make headlines with their all-new commercial but probably not in the way they were expecting.

Take a look:

While the ad may seem innocent to those who operate a low-tech home, for those that have home assistant (specifically a Google home device) weren’t all that amused.

The commercial was specifically designed to activate the Google home device, which then read off the first lines of the Whopper Wikipedia page. This essentially forced the Google devices to provide a lot of free advertising for the company.

Needless to say, people weren’t all that thrilled.

Just a few short hours after the ad was launched Google, who was not consulted on the ad, stopped the ad from triggering the devices putting an end to the invasive commercial.

The prank itself was a clever move but could end up having negative effects in the end.

The first was internet trolls altering the Whopper’s Wikipedia page to say the burger contained “cyanide” and a “medium-sized child.” As a result, the page is currently blocked from being edited.

This isn’t the first time in-home technology has gone a little crazy as devices like the Google Home and Amazon Echo have become more popular.

Earlier this year the Amazon Echo made the news when a 6-year old from Texas managed to order $160 from Amazon including a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies.

AmazonGirl

The trouble didn’t end there.

A subsequent news reports on the story inadvertently triggered Echo devices around the country to attempt to repeat the same order.

Google Home experienced a similar issue when a Superbowl commercial for the device triggered devices causing them to shut off lights and lower the television volume.

This latest snafu adds to the growing list of privacy and safety concerns coming from these “personal assistant” devices especially for those that control your homes security systems and door locks.

Burger King has said they will continue to run the commercial for the time being despite Google having blocked the ad. It will still trigger the device with the prompt “ok Google” but remains silent on the Whopper.

As of January, an estimated 8.2 million of Amazon’s devices have found their way into homes around the world. There are no numbers on Google Home devices.

Did your home fall victim to Burger Kings prank ad?

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.

Not Exempt From the Rules: Donald Trump Could Be Banned From Twitter

Our President-Elect is probably best known for his outrageous use of the popular micro-blogging site Twitter and I have certainly shared my annoyance with this on my personal blog.

Recent Tweets from Trump might be landed him in hot water with Twitter as his bullying tactics have entered the realm of violating the site’s terms of service which could get Mr. President-Elect banned for life.

Twitter’s Terms state that users “may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others”. It makes clear that it will consider a range of factors when deciding whether to lock or ban someone’s account – including whether the reported account is being “one-sided or includes threats”, or is “inciting others to harass another account”.

The following tweet directed towards an Indianapolis Chuck Jones has raised eyebrows regarding Donald’s social media usage.

trump

Following the tweet Jones began receiving threatening phone calls and messages.

This tweet and the abuse that followed closely echoes the behavior that saw Brietbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos being banned from Twitter earlier this year. He was permanently banned from having an account on the site because he sent public messages harassing Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones which led to an onslaught of racial slurs and hate speech from others.

From any standpoint this kinds of behavior is troubling from the man who would be President and it’s sending a poor message to all that this is an acceptable way to act whether online or off. This has been a major issue for me since Donald announced his campaign and moreso now that he has won. What kind of example is his setting for our youth?

Regardless, this is certainly a fantastic “teachable moment” as we move towards the holiday break and a reminder for all to be respectful towards one another both online and off.

What are your thoughts on Trump’s almost obsessive use of twitter?

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.

Think Twice Before Posting A Photo of Your Ballot

If you haven’t already (by mail-in or early voting) we are all embarking on the most insane election this country has ever witnessed. Regardless of who you are voting for it’s important to realize that taking a photo or selfie of your ballot may land you in a whole lot of trouble and even invalidate your vote.

Perhaps take a moment before you text, tweet, snapchat, instagram, facebook or post your vote anywhere online.

Take a moment to review the law in your state and be sure to get out and vote on November 8th!

Where ballot selfies are allowed

Connecticut. No law bans ballot selfies, according to Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for Secretary of State Denise Merrill. But election moderators have discretion to prohibit activity “that threatens the orderly process of voting or the privacy of another voter’s ballot.”

District of Columbia. There’s no ban. Election officials discourage people from taking pictures but won’t do anything to stop them, said Tamara Robinson, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections.

Hawaii. A law passed this year allows voters to share a digital image of one’s own marked ballot.

Idaho. There’s no law banning them, the secretary of state’s office said.

Indiana. A federal judge last year barred the state from enforcing a new law prohibiting ballot selfies.

Kentucky. Secretary of State spokesman Bradford Queen says state law does not allow people to record the likeness of a voter, but the law does not say whether voters can record their own likeness. Therefore, the secretary of state’s office routinely tells county clerks the law does not prohibit ballot selfies.

Louisiana. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says ballot selfies are allowed in the state, though he’s not a fan of them.

Maine. The secretary of state discourages ballot selfies because there’s a ban on making unauthorized ballot copies, but there’s no law against voters posting photos of their marked ballot.

Michigan. A federal judge on Monday blocked enforcement of a ban on ballot selfies, saying it violates free speech. Lawyers for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson predicted “chaos” at polling places, but the judge on Wednesday denied the state’s request to freeze her order while they appeal.

Minnesota. Allowed as long as they’re not shown to fellow voters at the polling place or capture another person in the photo.

Montana. Law does not specifically prohibit the use of cameras at polling places, but election administrators and judges have broad authority to limit disruptive activity, according to Emily Dean, spokeswoman for the secretary of state. Sharing photos of absentee ballots is also not banned.

Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill in April that allows someone to show their marked ballots to others without risking a $100 fine.

New Hampshire. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last month upheld a decision that a ban was unconstitutional, saying it suppresses a large swath of political speech and there was no evidence to support the state’s concerns.

North Dakota. Photos inside polling places are allowed.

Oregon. All voting is done through mail-in ballots, which voters are free to photograph. A state law prohibiting showing a marked ballot to another person was repealed in 2014, according to Molly Woon, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins.

Rhode Island. The Board of Elections adopted new rules in time for November’s election that allow for selfie-taking inside polling places. The updated regulations allow voters to take photos as long as they don’t show another person’s ballot.

Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last year that makes it legal for people to snap pictures of themselves with their ballots. The law makes it a misdemeanor to photograph someone else’s ballot.

Vermont. No rules regarding photos in polling places. Clerks are encouraged to adopt specific rules for their polling places to maintain order, according to Jim Condos, a spokesman for the secretary of state.

Virginia. Attorney General Mark Herring issued a formal opinion last month that says ballot selfies are legal in Virginia. Nothing in Virginia law prohibits voters from taking pictures of themselves, fellow voters or their ballot within the polling place, he said.

Washington state. It’s not against the law in Washington, but a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the office doesn’t recommend it.

Wyoming. No laws against ballot selfies. Law does allow judges of elections to “preserve order at the polls by any necessary and suitable means.”

Where ballot selfies are illegal

Alabama. Not allowed because voters have “a right to cast a ballot in secrecy and in private,” said a spokesman for Secretary of State John Merrill.

Alaska. A state law bans voters from showing their marked ballots, but Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke says there is no practical way to enforce it.

Colorado. Ballot selfies or any public dissemination of a marked ballot are considered a misdemeanor. A 2016 bill to repeal the ban failed.

Florida. Photographs are not allowed in polling places or of mailed ballots.

Georgia. Law prevents photos of ballots or the screens of electronic voting machines.

Illinois. Banned by a law that considers “knowingly” marking your ballot so that another person can see it is a felony that carries a prison sentence of one to three years.

Kansas. Secretary of state says a selfie showing a picture of the actual ballot violates state law.

Massachusetts. Taking a photo of a completed ballot in a polling location is banned in Massachusetts. But the state’s top election official, Secretary William Galvin, says there’s little the state can do to prevent it. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

Mississippi. Photos showing how someone marked their ballot after voting are prohibited.

Nevada. Photos inside polling places are not allowed, except by the media. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

New Jersey. Law prohibits voters from showing their ballot to others. A pending legislative measure would allow voters to take photos of their own ballots while in the voting booth and share it on social media.

New Mexico. Law prohibits voters from showing their marked paper ballot “to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents.”

New York. Photos showing a completed ballot or indicating how a person cast their vote are not allowed.

North Carolina. Photographing or otherwise recording a voted official ballot is not allowed.

South Carolina. Law bars voters from allowing their ballots to be seen. A 2012 state attorney general’s opinion says that makes it illegal to reproduce a ballot by cellphone, video camera or iPad.

South Dakota. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs says ballot selfies are not allowed because they can be considered influencing a vote or forcing someone to show proof of voting.

Wisconsin. State law prohibits sharing photos of ballots.

Where ballot selfies’ legality mixed, unclear

Arizona. Bars photography within 75 feet of polling places. But the Legislature changed the law that barred showing photos of completed ballots in 2015 to allow posting of early ballots on social media.

Arkansas. Nothing in state law prohibits taking photos while in a polling place as long as it’s not disruptive or being used for electioneering purposes, but state law on sharing voter choices is unclear.

California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month that repeals a 125-year-old law barring voters from showing people their marked ballots. The change will take effect nearly two months after the presidential election, but legislative analysts have found no occasion of the ban being enforced. The author of the bill, in fact, has been sharing constituents’ photos of marked ballots on social media since the law passed.

Delaware. Has a policy against cellphones in voting booths, but elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove said: “I don’t know that we can control what happens behind the curtain.”

Iowa. Law prohibits the use of cameras, cellphones or other electronic devices in voting booths, so Secretary of State Paul Pate has asked voters not to take selfies with ballots. Photos of absentee ballots are OK.

Maryland. Bans electronic devices in a polling place except for the media. And even media members aren’t allowed to photograph a ballot that shows how someone is voting. But photos of mailed ballots are OK.

Missouri. Law prohibits voters from allowing others to see their ballots if the intent is to show how they voted. Secretary of State spokeswoman Stephanie Fleming described ballot selfies as a “gray area” and advises voters to check with local election authorities.

Ohio. Has a longstanding prohibition against voters letting their ballot be seen with the “apparent intention” of letting it be known how they are about to vote. The state elections chief has advised local election boards to consult their own attorneys about how to apply the law. Two Republican lawmakers are sponsoring a bill they say will let voters photograph and make public their marked ballots.

Oklahoma. Officials recommend against it, noting that state law dating back about 40 years suggests it is illegal but outlines no penalties.

Pennsylvania. Law prohibits someone from revealing their ballot “letting it be known how” they’re “about to vote.” But officials recently released guidance on electronic items in polling places that noted the recent court cases that “found a First Amendment right to take ‘ballot selfies.'”

Tennessee. Voters are not allowed to take photos or videos while in polling places. They’re only allowed to use electronic devices for informational purposes to assist during voting, according to Adam Ghassemi, a spokesman for Secretary of State Tre Hargett. The state’s law doesn’t address mail-in ballots.

Texas. Bars photography within 100 feet of polling stations, so selfies are not allowed. Photos of mail-in ballots are OK.

West Virginia. Electronic devices are banned inside voting booths, according to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Nothing in the law prohibits photos of mail-in ballots.

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.