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 Meerkat

This week I am continuing to review live-streaming apps. These apps have been taking the social media world by storm and allowing users to share their lives in real-time. While these apps have been embraced by many in the celebrity world, it has turned into a genuine cause for concern for parents as their kids begin sharing a little bit too much information.

Last week I took a look at the popular app Periscope which launched in March of 2015. Today I am taking a look at a very similar app called Meerkat.

Meerkat

Launched in February of 2015, Meerkat went viral after widespread use at the South by Southwest festival.

Users are able to broadcast whatever they like. Unlike its rival, Periscope,  Meerkat offers users the opportunity to schedule when broadcasts will happen which is a great perk for musicians planning a show to live-stream, etc.

Content

For the most part what I experienced on Meerkat wasn’t too shocking. There were some people running Q&A’s (there was one interesting one going on about the music industry that I actually watched for a while) and another was a cooking Screenshot_2015-08-04-18-05-40demonstration which was also quite interesting (I love to cook so it won me over).

At first glance it seems that, for the most part, the younger crowds have opted for Periscope over Meetkat. The worst of what I found in the hour I spent sifting around was a group of three guys who were obviously inebriated sitting around talking and smoking a bong.

That’s not to say that others aren’t using the app inappropriately, they just happened to be otherwise occupied while I was on. I would like to think that the lack of any sort of privacy along with the broadcast of one’s location is enough to discourage such behavior.

Bullying

While I didn’t witness anything too bad while on the site, there is still the potential for negative interactions through Meerkat similar to what I had witness on periscope. The site does allow for reporting of those making a broadcast but I couldn’t find a way to report individual users who were posting inappropriate content. At the same time I wasn’t able to block anyone either, leaving the app open to all sorts of issues.

Privacy

Upon starting the sign-up process for the app I was prompted to enter my phone number in order to receive a conformationScreenshot_2015-08-04-17-57-32 code to complete registration. This is an instant red-flag for me as I hate giving my phone number out to anyone or anything. The fine print insists that numbers are never given out but that’s not a comforting thought for me. If you’re not comfortable with your child revealing their phone number to a company, than this is the point where you shut it down.

Continuing the sign-up process you are asked for your name and a username. As always, usernames should shy away from revealing personal information like names, locations, age etc. Another interesting aspect was that I was required to upload a user picture before I could continue. Same rules, as always, apply when selecting a user picture- be aware of everything depicted as it might reveal too much!

When broadcasting the one and only setting is public. Anything being streamed will be seen by anyone that cares to watch. Additionally, something that really bugged me, the location Screenshot_2015-08-04-18-03-55of the broadcast was shown to anyone watching. For example, mine read Orlando, FL and I could find no way to turn that option off. This is another major issue that I think is enough cause to want to keep kids off of the app.

Unlike Periscope, however, the broadcasts are one and done meaning that there is no saving or rerunning the broadcast once it has ended. Periscope allows users to save videos for up to 24 hours.

Additionally, anything you do on Meetkat is automatically broadcast to Twitter which is something else that bugs me about the service. Every comment you make automatically becomes a tweet. I refrained from any interaction during my time on the site for this reason.

Should Parents Be Concerned About Meerkat?

Short answer, YES! Despite seeing less inappropriate content on the app, too many red flags went up for me in regards to the user experience. I don’t like how much information and linking is required in order to use the app and that every little thing is broadcast out to your Twitter followers. This is definitely one of the apps that is best to avoid.

The app is rated for teens which is 13+ in compliance with COPPA.

As always if you have questions about this or other apps please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to info@joshgunderson.com. The “What Parents Should Know” blog series will be posted weekly throughout the year as time in our schedule allows.

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 Periscope

Good morning world! I have been away for a longer time than I had anticipated but various projects kept me from having the proper time to sit down and write out blog entries! Hopefully that trend ends now as I prepare to return to life on the road!

Over the past few months, live-streaming apps and websites have gained a large following. Today’s entry will take a look at the most recent addition to this fad: Periscope.

Periscope

Officially launched in March of 2015 the Twitter-owned app gain instant popularity with both the general public and many celebrities.

The app allows users to live-stream from their phones or computers (equipped with a web cam) to the world around them. I know this service has been popular with a number of my friends who enjoy live-streaming parades and fireworks from Disney World to friends around the world that aren’t able to be there in person.

During my brief time playing with the app this afternoon I witnessed the following:

A young man talking about a new pair of shoes he purchased.
An Irishman conducting a Q&A about drinking.
Someone getting a haircut.
A teenager driving. Yep. Driving. While looking at his phone and responding to comments.
A grown man with his two children in the car (not seat belted) driving and responding to comments
Two teen girls conducting a Q&A session and receiving inappropriate questions.

Privacy
ToScreenshot_2015-08-04-16-32-21 join the app, users much also be a member of Twitter and the two accounts will be linked. Upon signing up you are able to create a username different from your twitter account, if desired. As always, I recommend staying away from usernames that reveal a lot of personal information including full names, locations, age, etc.

When it comes to broadcasts, the default setting is Public but users do have the ability to change over to private and, from there, select which of their followers are able to view that particular broadcast. When left public, the broadcast is shot out to the world. As far as I can tell (with Android at least) there is no way to limit narrow down viewable broadcasts to those around you.

Sexting/Content

While the app’s community guidelines prohibit content of a sexual nature, it doesn’t stop users from broadcasting such things. While surfing around the app I did come across some rather adult situations which I reported but there seemed to be no response from the app as the broadcast continued and now seems to be archived to the user’s account. Broadcasts are able to be saved for up to 24 hours on the user’s accounts for those that aren’t able to see 2015-08-04 16.11.56it live.

Common sense is the name of the game but in a world where becoming social media famous seems to be on everyone’s mind, that idea seems to go out the window. While briefly viewing a broadcast being conducted by two 16-year old girls they were being bombarded with questions and comments like, “what is your bra size?”, “Are you virgins?”, “What’s the furthest you’ve gone with a guy?”, “You two should make out!”

Thankfully in this case those questions and comments were ignored but I fear for those who decide to get provocative for the sake of gaining more likes and followers.

Once it’s out there, there is a chance of it resurfacing. Periscope is not safe from apps and tricks that allow viewers to record or screenshot what they are watching and sharing it elsewhere with others. A quick google search told me all I need to know about saving broadcasts both on my phone and computer!

Bullying

Again, after just a few moments of joining someone’s broadcast I was witness to some hard words and speech being thrown around by other users. One young man, 14, was conducting an “I’m bored” Q&A which was being viewed by about 100+ people. One user in particular seemed relentless about asking whether or not the broadcaster was gay. When the questions was initially ignored, the viewer became agitated and resorted to some more colorful language. The broadcaster responded that he was straight and had a girlfriend. The user, not satisfied with this answer proclaimed “Well you seem like a fa**ot!”

While the app does allow for users to block and report one another, the wording in their terms of service makes me nervous about what Twitter (Periscope’s parent comany) does with these reports. As stated in their Terms, the have the right to monitor and investigate users but are under no obligation to do so. I feel like this invites nothing but trouble and should certainly be something parents keep and eye on if they allow their kids to use this service.

Should Parents Be Concerned About Periscope?

Of all of the live-streaming apps/websites that are available right now, Periscope seems to be the safest with the ability to at least limit those who are viewing what your are broadcasting.

That being said, I would place Periscope in the same boat as Omegle and Fling. I spent the better part of my time on the app terrified that I was going to stumble on something that would get me into trouble. My every gut instinct with apps like this is to avoid at all costs.

The app itself is rated Teen within the Google Play store meaning that it is following the COPPA standard for social networking sites which means that users must be at least 13 years or older to be a part of the site. This obviously doesn’t stop kids from lying to get onto the site. I encourage parents to set up safeguards to prevent younger kids from downloading the app to their device.

As always, take the time to talk to your kids about apps like this and remind them that sometimes something they think is harmless fun can cause them a world of trouble.

As always if you have questions about this or other apps please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to info@joshgunderson.com. The “What Parents Should Know” blog series will be posted weekly throughout the year as time in our schedule allows.

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 ooVoo

We’re getting back into the new year with our regular blog series “What Parents Should Know” where we explore popular apps kids are using and break them down for parents. For the first entry of 2015 I was asked at a recent parent night in Armonk, NY about the video chat app ooVoo.

Ooovoo004ooVoo is a video client, similar to Skype, which allows users to communicate through instant messaging, voice and video chat. The conferencing software allows users to communicate with up to 12 others simultaneously. The app is available through both Android and IOS as well as on desktop or laptop computers.

While Facetime through iPhones and iPods is popular with most students, it is limited to one on one chatting. ooVoo allows large groups to communicate making it great for homework study groups.

After playing around with the app and the desktop site I find no real issues with the program as long as users are smart about privacy and safety.

Here is my advice to create a safe and private environment on ooVoo!Ooovoo002

1) As a reminder, like a large majority of social apps out there, users must be at least 13 years old in order to sign up for ooVoo.

2) While creating your profile, you are not required to put your entire name. Youngsters should just be putting their first name to help keep themselves safe.

3) Create a username that doesn’t include personal information like your name, location or age.

4)  When adding a profile picture, video or status update be sure that there is no revealing information that can be found in them. Remembering that little things can add up to a lot when it comes to information posted online through pictures and these updates.

5)  Take advantage of the privacy settings (seen here)

Ooovoo003

For my ooVoo account, I set it up so only those with my e-mail address or username can find me in searches. I highly recommend this over the “Anyone” setting as it allows you to control who has access to you.

Also note that your profile picture, display name and online status are always public in your profile.

As I’ve mentioned before with a number of username based apps, it’s important to keep this information private. Reminds kids not to share usernames to chat sites within their profiles elsewhere. It drives me insane when I see Kik, Snapchat and other usernames posted within public Instagram or other profiles. By keeping these usernames private, it limits those who have access to them.

So to answer the question about whether or not parents should be concerned about their kids using ooVoo, the answer is no. Like most apps available, ooVoo does its best to ensure the safety and privacy of its users.

It’s up to parents to remember to have regular conversations regarding online safety and etiquette.

As always if you have questions about this or other apps please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to info@joshgunderson.com. The “What Parents Should Know” blog series will be posted weekly throughout the year as time in our schedule allows.

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 Fling

It would seem that there will be no shortage of strange new apps to talk about.  This latest inductee into the messaging app hall of famefling puts a strange twist on the world of photo messaging.

Fling, which launched to mixed reviews and a top 5 spot in the App Store in mid-June, is the latest in the trend of random messaging. Like I mentioned, there’s a twist.

At first glance, I thought Fling was just another Snapchat. I was both right and wrong.

The app functions as a bit of a virtual message in a bottle. Users create content (text, picture or video) and share them.

The content is “flung” around the world to up to 50 random users. The recipients can view the content and can choose to engage the originator in chat or ignore the content entirely. Receipts can view the originator’s username and general location from which the fling was flung. The content creator can watch their message fly around the world.

It would seem that the overall popularity of the app is coming and going. When it launched in mid-June the app shot to the top of the charts. Since then it has dropped off the top 100 list despite over 250 million “flings”. Part of the reason for the decline might be the lack of availability on the Android platform (though its creators promise that it’s in the works).

Here are some key points for parents on the app:

Privacy

Similar to popular apps like Snapchat and Kik Messenger, Fling functions on usernames.  Normally this is enough to keep users safe and free from unwanted messages. Since Fling randomly sends out your content to random people, you are willingly handing off this information to strangers.

As I mentioned when a fling is flung, recipients receive the originators username and general location. An early bug reveal exact locations but this has since been corrected and limits this to the country of origin.

How much information revealed is up to the users. Once chat has been engaged, users can give out personal information like phone numbers, other app usernames and exact locations.

Privacy is in the eye of the beholder it would seem in the case of this app. I would recommend for users, selecting a different username from your norm (using the same username across apps and sites is generally NOT recommended).

Sexting/Content

10 minutes. That’s how long I was a member of the app before I received sexually explicit content from a complete stranger. Of the five replies to my inaugural fling (a picture of my new kitten) one of them was a picture of a man’s genitals. While one would hope that their teen is smart enough to avoid such dangers but mistakes do happen. Making sure that your kids understand the consequences of sexting both the legal and non-legal ramifications. It’s important to take the time to think before you make a mistake that could affect you now or in the future. This content is permanent and won’t be going away any time soon. The added risk is that this content is being sent to complete strangers all over the world.

Like a good chunk of messaging apps, there are no restrictions on content being created or sent so the chances of your child simply receiving unwanted explicit messages are great. The app store even warns against Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor.

Users are able to report unsavory content when it’s been received. Fling has access to each of the messages sent and will investigate and suspend users as it deems necessary.

Why Parents Should Be Concerned About Fling

Right away the app reminds me of how I felt about Omegle. You are sharing with complete strangers around the world. This, right away, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like the idea of sharing with users unknown around the world and parents should feel the same.

The app is rated 13+ meaning that, like most apps, users must be at least 13 years of age to download the app. Make sure for your younger kids that you have restrictions in place for the app store and Google Play.

Additionally, use this opportunity to have that regular check-in with your kids about the apps they are using and the behavior you expect from them. Help them understand your feelings about sharing and chatting with strangers and what some of the ramifications of those actions can be.

Remind them about sharing too much information and how even a picture can reveal too much sometimes!

It’s important to remember that it’s not technology that’s causing problems, it’s how we are using it!

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.

New Ask.fm Owner Wants To Eliminate Bullying, Moves Company to the US

In summer of 2013, popular social networking site Ask.fm brought bullying back to the forefront of the minds of people around the world, sparking debates on privacy and digital responsibility (see What Parents Should Know About Ask.FM)

askfmofficeThe site allowed users to interact anonymously by asking and responding to questions. Naturally, young users took advantage of the ability to remain in the shadows of the internet and took to posting mean, threatening and harassing comments to users leading to a number of bullying related suicides.

In a quite deal for an undisclosed amount of money, Ask.fm has been purchased by the owners of popular dating app Tinder and will be moving the company to the United States.

The company behind the deal, IAC, will be working in conjunction with the New York Attorney General’s office and investing “millions” into making the web site safer for users.

A statement by the NYAG’s office reads:

Under the terms of the agreement, Ask.fm will revamp its safety policies and procedures, including creating a new online Safety Center, hiring a trust and safety officer to act as a primary safety contact, and establishing a Safety Advisory Board to oversee all safety issues. Ask.fm will also review user complaints within 24 hours and remove users that have been the subject of multiple complaints. An independent safety and security examiner will be appointed to examine the changes and report on compliance to the Attorney General’s Office for three years.

This is a major relief to parents and educators alike who have seen the site growing in popularity since its introduction in 2010. Today it boasts over 130 million users with roughly 700 posts made each second.

The brothers responsible for the founding of the web site will no longer be involved with its operations as a part of the deal.

“They had a laissez-faire, libertarian attitude,”  according Chief Executive of IAC, Doug Leeds, emphasizing that under the new regime, threats of violence and other distressing content would “not be welcome”.

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.

Fight the Bully: What Parents Can Do

I get asked a lot of questions. Seriously, I’ll show you my inbox sometime. It’s truthfully one of the best parts of my job, being able to impart wisdom that I have picked up from over five years of travelling around the United States and talking with people. ID-10063311Of all the questions I get asked, the biggest from parents has to do with the issue of bullying both in the real world and the digital. For myself and even my parents growing up, when it came to bullies we were told to “suck it up” and that it was a part of growing up. More and more we are learning that these attitudes are dangerous when it comes to the health and safety of our children. It’s not as simple as sucking it up. The digital world has changed how we interact with one another and that goes for bullying. The advent of social media and mobile technology has created a breeding ground for issues that are constant, permanent and unavoidable. Some Quick Facts On Bullying

  • 7in 10 young people are victims of cyberbullying.
  • 37%of them are experiencing cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis.
  • 20%of young people are experiencing extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
  • Facebook, Ask.FM and Twitter found to be the most likely sources of cyberbullying, being the highest in traffic of all social networks.
  • Cyberbullying found to have catastrophic effects upon the self-esteem and social lives of up to70%of young people.

Your Top Tool: Communication When it comes to students the one item I have on repeat is “take time to think.” For parents it’s much simpler: “COMMUNICATE!”

A tidbit I share all the time is how my mother raised us. Rather than lecturing about one issue or another, she would ask what we knew about something. She would take the time to get to know what we were into and who we were friends with. It was an easier time for her with the lack of mobile technology and social media but I think that this ideal can easily translate into the digital world.

Stay on top of what is going on in the world by following news stories about bullying and other online issues and talk to your kids about them. Ask them what they have heard and if they have any thoughts about what is going on. Checking in with them regularly and having conversations will help them feel more comfortable coming to you in the future with these types of issues.

By avoiding going into lecture mode, you will be establishing a great sense of trust for your kids. That’s what I loved about my mom. She hardly yelled or lectured and in turn we were more likely to come to her with problems.

Dealing with the Issues So what to do when your child comes to you with an issue? Keep that communication going. Ask your child what they would like you to do with the information they have given you. Do they simply want you to be aware of what is happening or would they like you to take action. If action is the answer, what kind? Talk to the other child’s parents? Talk to school administrators? Let them be a part of the decision making and they will feel more in control for themselves. It will teach them the valuable skill of standing up for themselves and not always relying on someone else (mommy or daddy) to take care of all their problems. Let them know that you are always and forever on their side no matter what!

Have your own thoughts? Please feel free to share them 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 Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

 

What Parents Should Know: Vine Becomes PG-13

Just over a year after its debut, Vine (a Twitter-owned platform) had brought about a major change in their Terms of Service. Last week, Twitter announced and immediate change in the terms banning all pornographic and sexually explicit content.vine001

Twitter and, by extension, Vine had no rules against pornographic material though they did supress the content by putting up disclaimers over the video before playing and kept them from the trending videos pages. Shortly after launching, the app did take action by raising the rating from 12+ to 17+ or a mature rating in app stores.

With little to no restrictions in place, Vine quickly became  home to both shared and homemade pornographic material including explicit videos created by underage users. Though there was an outcry about this content, it seemed to quickly slip out of the limelight and the problems continued albeit under the radar.

Vine became a hot button topic recently when a teen posted explicit videos of himself performing sexual acts with food items.

With that in the news, Twitters announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. In a statement Twitter’s leadership wrote:

“We introduced Vine to make it easier for people to find, watch, create and share videos right from their mobile phones. As we’ve watched the community and your creativity grow and evolve, we’ve found that there’s a very small percentage of videos that are not a good fit for our community. So we’re making an update to our Rules and Terms of Service to prohibit explicit sexual content.”

The new rules prohibit all videos containing sexual acts or any type as well as animation or photographs containing nudity. Exempt from these rules are videos/photos deemed to be containing documentary, artistic or educational materials. Sexually suggestive content is also exempt as long as people in the video are clothed.

While a large number or users are not affected by this change those who are were warned about the change ahead of time. Users were given time to remove content. Those still uploading or refusing to remove content are suspended until they comply with repeated offenders being removed from the site.

Vine, like it’s competitor Instagram, will not be monitoring content full time and will rely on its users to report inappropriate content via the “Report this Post” option.

For more information about this app, check out my post: What Parents Should Know About Vine and Vine vs. Instagram.

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.