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.

Instagram Launches “Stories”: What Parents Should Know

I’ve found, over the past year, the best way to describe the difference between Instagram and Snapchat is by looking at how we share. For Instagram we are highlighting moments from our day or week in a one off way that sticks around forever. Snapchat allows a you to share so much more by posting a continuous stream of pictures and video clips into a mini-movie called a story. As each segment of your story is posted, it received a 24 hour expiration. After one day, it’s gone.

This past week, Instragram launched the “Stories” feature on its app. Instagram fully gives credit to the creators of Snapchat for the idea for the sharing format. In a recent interview Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom admitted, ” “They deserve all the credit,” but insisted “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

Despite it’s insane popularity, sharing on Facebook-owned Instagram was down 15% in the beginning of 2016. The reasoning, according to Systrom, is that people don’t want to overwhelm their friends feeds with photos so they are selective about what is posted and as a result don’t post as often. “Stories” allows people to share those “in between” moments.

Systrom explains that “It basically solves a problem for all these people who want to take a ton of photos of an event or something in their lives, but want to manage what their profile looks like and not bomb feed, obviously, as that’s one of the no-nos on Instagram.”

Facebook has attempted this before with other apps like Poke, Slingshot, and Instragram Bolt but people didn’t want yet another app to keep up with. Instead of trying to create something new, Instagram has decided to go with what works.

Here’s the breakdown of the differences and similarities between the apps:

The same

  • The Stories format laces the last 24 hours of 10-second-max photos and videos you’ve shared into a slideshow you can tap to fast-forward through
  • Everything you post disappears after 1 day
  • You shoot full-screen in the app or upload things from the last 24 hours of your camera roll (recently added to Snapchat with Memories)
  • You adorn your photos with drawings, text, emojis and swipeable color filters
  • You can save your individual Story slides before or after posting them
  • Your followers voluntarily tap in to pull your Story and view it, instead of it being pushed into a single feed
  • People can swipe up to reply to your Stories, which are delivered through Instagram Direct private messages
  • You can see who’s viewed your Story

Different

  • Instagram Stories appear in a row at the top of the main feed instead of on a separate screen like Snapchat, and are sorted by who you interact with most, not purely reverse chronological order like Snapchat
  • Anyone you allow to follow you on Instagram can see your Instagram Stories, though you can also block people, as opposed to building a separate network on Snapchat
  • You don’t have to be following someone to view their Instagram Stories, which can be viewed from their profile as long as they’re public
  • You can swipe right or tap the Stories icon in the top left to open the Stories camera, as opposed to Snapchat defaulting to the camera
  • You can hold the screen to pause a slideshow, or tap the left side to go back a slide, as opposed to Snapchat’s time-limited, constantly progressing Stories
  • You can’t add old content to Instagram Stories unless you re-import or screenshot, while Snapchat lets you share old Memories with a white border and timestamp around them
  • Instagram offers three brush types for drawing: standard, translucent highlighter and color-outlined neon, as opposed to Snapchat’s single brush
  • Instagram offers custom color control for drawing with an easy picker, as well as pre-made palettes like earth-tones or grayscale, while Snapchat custom color control is much more clumsy
  • Instagram currently lacks location filters, native selfie lens filters, stickers, 3D stickers and speed effects, but you can save content from third-party apps like Facebook-owned MSQRD and then share them
  • You can’t see who screenshotted your Instagram Story, while Snapchat warns you
  • You can’t save your whole day’s Story like on Snapchat, but you can post slides from your Story to the permanent Instagram feed

 

For me, I plan on sticking to Snapchat because I have a lot more control over who can see it as my Instagram account is public. But as a business owner and social media personality, I can see the appeal of utilizing a service with an already established audience.

For more information about “disappearing media” be sure to check out “What Parents Should Know About Snapchat“.

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: 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.

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