Social Networking in the Classroom: Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is everywhere and what better time than summer to launch the biggest gaming app in history? Kids, young and old, are getting out of the house and exploring their world in a whole new way.  An entire generation of students that have become so comfortable sitting at home interacting with the world through a tethered device and getting out of the house and  on the move. But summer has a way of ending far too quickly and based on my email inbox, teachers are already wondering what impact the app will have in the school environment.

Please note that I am a big fan of the game and have been playing, casually, with friends since its inception but I do share the concern of the app being disruptive to the learning environment.

If it were up to me, come the beginning of the school year, geofences (the same use to block YikYak) would be placed around schools to help reduce the number of issues.

I have been repeatedly told that I’m not in charge… so I guess I’ll go with plan B. How can educators take advantage of the craze and utilize Pokémon hunting in the classroom?

I have managed to spend an entire day tearing the internet apart to find some of the best ideas for pulling the educational benefits from the game.

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We discovered the Susan Russell House in Somerville in what I can only assume was Pokemon Go’s attempt to get me eaten by a wildly haunted house.

One that I would like to highlight came to mind while I was playing the game with a friend during a recent trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts when I noticed that PokeStops seemed the center on art instillations and historical landmarks. As a result we discovered hidden gems that we never knew existed in a town where we spent a good chunk of our youth.

Have students keep a log of where they have hunted and things they have learned on their
adventures. Many PokeStops offer a brief tidbit of information about the site. Encourage students to learn a bit more about each place they visit!

Here are some additional resources and ideas I really enjoyed reading and could offer some ideas for teachers:

How Pokémon GO Can Teach Social Skills to Children and Young People with Autism
Explore Everything with Pokémon GO (Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences)
Everything Librarians Need to Know About Pokémon GO
Three Ways Playing Pokémon GO Can Make You Smarter
Three Ways Pokémon GO Can Create Meaningful Learning Opportunities

Additional readind:
Pokémon GO’s Mental Health Benefits Are Real

And of course be sure to check out Monday’s Entry: “What Parents Should Know About Pokémon Go

Happy hunting friends!

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.

Twitter Polls Become Cyberbullying Tool

In late October of this year Twitter introduced a new way for its 500 million users to interact with one another by launching Twitter Polls. While Twitter has always offered ways for users to gather information and opinions TwitterPollsthrough hashtags or simply having users cast their vote through either retweet or favorites, this new polling option offers an easier alternative. While the poll questions and tallies are public information, who voted and how is kept anonymous.

Unfortunately, teens across the world have twisted this new option into a new form of cyberbullying.

Since being launched, reports of cyberbullying through Twitter polls have surfaced in middle and high schools in Utah, Montana, and Michigan.

How the Polls Work

The Twitter polling system is rather simple in nature. Users ask a question TwitterPolls02and can add up to four options as an answer. Once the poll has been broadcast the ability to respond remains active for 24 hours before polling is closed.

How Students Are Using It

In some cases, students have stated that the polls being posted were just jokes but soon they took a turn for the worse. Some polls being posted included: “Who is the Ugliest Girl In School”, “Who is Dumber: John or a Brick”, “Who is the Biggest Slut?” While the polling closes after 24 hours, the results remain on the account.

Is This Cyberbullying?

Absolutely! Bullying is defined by actions that are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviors intended to harm another. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” These polls have added an entirely new level to this.

Who Is Responsible: Parents or School?

I’ve spent the last hour pouring over all of the articles regarding this subject and there seems to be a common theme- no one wants to take responsibility over the issue. One school principal currently dealing with this issue had this to say in one story, ” the school has no connection to or control over the polls. That hasn’t stopped parents calling the school with concerns about what is being posted. He said he hopes Twitter can shut the accounts down before one of the polls leads to tragedy.”

I bring this up because it seems to be a common theme when it comes to social media, bullying and the law.

It’s important to first remember that each state has a different law when it comes to bullying both online and off. To learn more about your state’s law, I encourage you to visit bullypolice.org for a breakdown.

From there I want to remind both educators and parents that when it comes to raising our kids it takes a village. It’s corny. It’s overused. It’s true.

It’s important that communities work together to educate and prevent these issues from coming up in the first place.

Rather than turn myself into a broken record, I’m going to point you to an entry that I wrote last year regarding internet safety: Teaching Internet Safety: It Takes A Village. While a bulk of this entry talks about internet safety, I think the lesson can be applied to situations surrounding bulling. From there I’ll also recommend another entry for parents: Fight The Bully: What Parents Can Do.

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 The Eraser Challenge

The world of the internet never ceases to amaze me and what people, kids especially, are willing to do to achieve their 15 minutes of fame is even more shocking. I received an e-mail from a concerned parent in Connecticut this morning about a new trend in schools called “The Eraser Challenge”. Coincidentally, I had just seen a news report about this very issue.

Join me now in a massive eye roll as I explain the “challenge”:

To play the game, players will use an eraser and rub it back and forth on their arm between the wrist and elbow while reciting the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter. Once they reach the letter Z, the opponents will compare their wounds.Pencil_eraser

It seems that this trend has existed for some time over the past year but is now gaining national attention after the game started growing in popularity among students at Bethel Middle School in Connecticut.

A quick look at YouTube shows this to be a rather viral trend with severe consequences prompting many participants to upload subsequent videos showing lasting scars as a result of participating in the challenge.

A Google search brings up graphic images of severe bleeding as a result of taking part as well as a handful of blog entries reporting trips to the hospital requiring stitches.

Despite the harm done, teens continue to participate, record and share the challenge in an effort to gain internet fame through YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, Instagram and other social networking sites.

School administrators and physicians are concerned about the residual effects of this behavior.  Aside from the immediate bodily harm being done, there is the concern that this could be a gateway into further self-harm down the road, including “cutting” behavior.

Additionally, with students breaking their skin while performing the challenge and then sharing the eraser with fellow participants, there is an increased chance of sharing bodily fluids and also infections as a result.

What Parents Can Do

For many that have attended my parent and community workshops, this advice is going to sound very familiar: TALK TO YOUR KIDS!

It is important when issues like this arise that parents get on board with having a conversation with their kids about what is going on in the world. Have it be just that: a conversation.

On the drive home from school or maybe over dinner, bring up The Eraser Challenge and ask your kids if they have heard about this.

If ‘yes’ ask them if they understand what the risks of these behaviors are and encourage them to talk to you or their teachers if they hear about their classmates participating.

If ‘no’  I still encourage an open dialogue about the issue. Many parents worry that by telling them about it, they will be giving their kids the idea to get involved in it. I believe the opposite to be true. By having the conversation they now know that this is something on your radar and that you’ll be looking out for this behavior (the marks are impossible to hide save for long sleeves).

Keeping an open and honest dialogue with your kids about this and any issue is the best bet to prevent problems in the future.

What Educators Can Do

In times like these, it truly takes a village to work together in an effort to lead our children down the best path possible.

Vigilance between classes and during any downtime throughout the school day is a must. Health classes may be the best place to discuss issues surrounding blood borne illnesses and diseases, risk of infections and scarring as a result in participating in the challenge.

Share current news stories and encourage open discussions amongst students about these and other events affecting their generation.

If an incident does occur at the school, it’s best to have an educated discussion with the perpetrators rather than figuring out punishment. Keep parents informed and share information through e-mails and letters home to help curb this behavior before more serious incidents occur.

As always, if you have a questions about a web site or app send an e-mail to info@joshgunderson.com and we’ll get you an answer!

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 Keek

This week’s entry comes from a parent in Nebraska who has asked about Keek. I will admit that I was a bit confused by the question regarding the app. Turns out that Kik Messenger and Keek are two completely different apps!keek

Keek is a Toronto based social networking service that allows users to upload video status updates also known as “Keeks.” Keeks can be created on a mobile device or through the Keek website using a webcam.

Videos uploaded to Keek are limited to 36 seconds (much longer than those on Vine and Instagram) and by the end of 2013 the app had over 58 Million users. Followers are able to comment on Keeks with their own videos or text responses and are able to share the videos on the app and through their own social networking sites.

Signing Up For The App
Once you’ve downloaded the app you are able to sign up through your Facebook or Twitter profiles or create an account using your e-mail address. Once your account is created, the app requests some basic information from you including your first name, birth date, country and a short bio.keek002

Privacy
Because of the information needed by the app for your profile, it does require that users be at least 13 to create and account and for users aged 13-18, that they receive parental permission.

Unlike other social networking sites, there are no options for users to set their content to private. According to Keek’s FAQs this option is coming soon but is still not an option for the almost 3 year old app.

Users to have the option of blocking others but it’s unclear if it only blocks them from commenting on content or from seeing the users all together.

Followers are also able to share your content onto their Keek feed as well as other social apps like Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook and a handful of others.

Using Keek
Once you are signed up and logged in, you are good to go. Using previously recorded videos or new content, you are able to post onto the app or website. Like many other apps, you use Hashtags or “Klusters” to make the video more visible to others looking for that particular content.

Once you post you are giving the option of sharing to your Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Users can also schedule posts (which is something that I use for Twitter to keep my feed active). This is also great because it might slow people down before posting potentially damaging content and make them think before it goes live to the world.

Content
The app’s end user agreement prohibits and sexually explicit content as well as anything that violates trademark or other people’s privacy. Like all these apps, the developers do their best to monitor content but rely heavily on users to report anything that would be deemed inappropriate.keek001

From my browsing of the site there wasn’t anything too awful (nothing as bad as what could be found on Vine). There was some borderline explicit content as well as people performing questionable acts, but a lot of it comes down to your comfort level with the content your kids are viewing.

Should My Child Be Using Keek?
My biggest issue with the app is the total lack of privacy and it should be a concern for parents as well.  I would probably still be against the app with privacy because I have concerns about anything that allows kids the opportunity to possibly share a little too much information or give revealing details about themselves.

Over sharing is a big concerns for apps like this and there’s a change of posting too much information or potentially embarrassing content that could affect your child’s future.

One of concern for parents, as always, are issues surrounding cyberbullying and I haven’t seen or heard too much from the app. Users are able to block and report hurtful or threatening content.

Do you have a questions about an app or social networking site? Please feel free to e-mail your questions to info@joshgunderson.com and I will do my best to find you the answer!

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.

 

Yik Yak (Don’t Come Back!)

If Ask.FM taught the world anything, it was that teenagers and the ability to remain anonymous cannot be mixed. In the summer of 2013, the popular Q&A web site became known worldwide after a series of bullying related suicides. Despite the public outcry, the site’s developers refused to aide in the investigation into instances of bullying and threats.

Social App newcomer, Yik Yak, found themselves being compared to the infamous Ask.FM this past week when stories of threats of violence and bullying caught the nation’s attention.

(Check out What Parents Should Know About Yik Yak to learn more about the app)

The app has been linked to the arrest of an Alabama teen for threatening to shoot someone, countless bullying incidents and bomb threats at schools in California, Georgia and Massachusetts.

Unlike it’s anonymous predecessor, the developer’s at Yik Yak have heard and responded accordingly to the outcry of parents and educators over the last week.

In what can only be described as an unprecedented move, Yik Yak has teamed with Maponics to license GPS data for over 100,000 public and private schools in the US. Using this data they are creating “geofences” around middle and high schools which will actually disable the use of the app while the users is within that area.yikyakbanned

As of early Thursday, these fences have gone live. In a statement, developer Brooks Buffington noted, “If for some reason the app is still accessible on a school’s grounds, all they need do is email us at yikyakapp@gmail.com and we’ll look into it ASAP.”

While I applaud this bold move by the developers, I see this as band aid on a knife wound.

Students will still have access to the app once they leave school grounds and the possibility of bullying, rumors and threats still exist.

It is worth noting for parents that the app is rated 17+ or mature. I encourage parents to set restrictions on their children’s devices to ensure they are not able to download these apps.

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.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Talking to Students about Sexting

The issue of sexting is starting to come around again big time and causing a lot of problems for schools. Problems arose when 10 students, aged 14 to 18, at Walpole High School in Massachusetts found themselves being questioned by police regarding illicit messages being sent around the school.

ID-10092889One important piece of information to highlight from this Fox 25 report is that in Massachusetts and many other states, sexting falls under child pornography and comes with many serious consequences including federal charges and possibly having to register as a sex offender.

Police in Walpole are not planning on bringing such serious charges against these first-time offenders but there will be action taken.

This series of events is a great learning opportunity not only for the students involved, but for students, educators and parents everywhere.

I highly encourage teachers to look into this story and take advantage of some great resources that are available online.

One lesson that I have found that I really enjoyed is linked below. Both are from Common Sense Media which offers lesson plans and other great resources for educators and parents.

The first link is to the Lesson Plan which can be downloaded as a PDF.

Overexposed: Sexting and Relationships

The second link is a video of this lesson in action in the classroom, offering some great tips and ideas for working with students.

Teaching Students about the Dangers of Sexting

Additionally it’s important for students to realize both the legal and non-legal ramifications of sending illicit images and messages through social media. Realizing that having to register as a sex offender for this type of offense is not something that goes away easily. It will affect every aspect of their future including where they live and getting a job.

On the non-legal side, there is the embarrassment and reputation damaging factors. Looking into current events with high-profile offenders like Justin Bieber, Anthony Weiner, and Tiger Woods can offer a great warning for students.

Social Studies teachers can look into current events including those at Walpole High School to enlighten and educate their students. I suggest following this story and others to the outcome to see what kind of harm can come from just sending one photo.

There are also many educational programs available if you think an outsider might have better luck reaching your students. More information about my programs for students, parents and teachers can be found on my web site at www.joshgunderson.com.

Any questions can be directed to info@joshgunderson.com

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 Adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 3

This marks the 3rd and final entry in the Blogging in the Classroom Series! To catch up on the previous entries you can see Part 1 Here and Part 2 Here! As always please feel free to share comments below or by shooting me an e-mail at info@joshgunderson.com. Want to catch up? Check out the archives link! Next week I will continue with Part 3 which includes some great ideas to get your classroom blog rolling!

What it comes to blogging in the classroom I feel like the ideas are endless! I have to be honest that I’m a bit jealous that this platform wasn’t available when I was in high school! Across the curriculum there are a number of ways blogs can be introduced to the classroom. A student can use one blog over the course of the year, or even over the course of their career at an education institution. This creates an amazing portfolio of their work!

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what are some ideas to get your kids writing!

Use Regular Writing Prompts
Put up a weekly or biweekly writing prompt for your students to respond to, setting a due date for the responses. Have them comment on one another’s responses to get a conversation going. Depending on your blogging platform, you can moderate comments before they are visible to ensure that nothing inappropriate comes through.

Respond To Class or Homework Readings/Discussions
Run out of class time? Post the topic of discussion onto your blog, letting the students know, and have the discussion continue. Ask students to discuss how a current reading applies to a student’s own life. This would be great for history classes and discussing how past events may mirror current happenings.

Current Events
Post a link to a current news article and ask students to respond with their thoughts and ideas. This is especially great if there is something that is going on that may affect their world!

Book Reviews
Ask students to write a review (positive or negative) of a book they read for pleasure, summer reading or a book your reading in class. If it’s a book they read for pleasure, perhaps offer extra credit for a review?

Free Write
Rather than investing money into notebooks (think of the trees!) have student do their free writing on a blog. This allows you and their fellow students to respond to their thoughts. Again, depending on the blog platform you choose, students can set entries to be viewed only by you.

Photo Blogging
Great for art and photography classes! Encourage students to share their projects only by uploading their photography or scanning in their artwork. Like with writing, this allows students to build an online portfolio for themselves and to share their work with the world!

Review Fieldtrips and Assemblies
As homework following a fieldtrip or assembly, ask students to react and review what they learned or saw. Did they take pictures? Ask them to include those moments in their entry as well. This allows students to work on their writing skills as well as getting feedback on these activities.

These are just a few ideas! A simple web search can find you loads more! Talk with your fellow teachers about how they would use blogging in the classroom and work together to create a blogging community!

Are your students already blogging in the classroom? Share your ideas for blogging in the classroom 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.