"Gunderson is a one-man show of angst and energy, stories backed by a laptop, a big screen and a lot of knowledge on the fascination as well as the pitfalls of social networking" The Lynn Daily Item, April 15, 2010 Read The Full Article
Speaker shares cautionary tales of technology misuse
Cyberbullying and sexting carry serious consequences.
While children may think what they are doing is not a big deal, education theater speaker Josh Gunderson showed how these things can get out of hand.
During the Texas Lutheran University and the Guadalupe County Community symposiums, Gunderson spoke on some of the effects of technology’s misuse.
During special presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday, he spoke to junior high school students — sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders — at area schools.
“Instead of telling you not to do something, I’m going to ask you to think,” he told Briesemeister students Tuesday afternoon. “I’m going to tell you some stories and what you do with all of this information is completely up to you. You have that choice.”
Gunderson started his presentation with a brief history of technology and moved on to current products that help share information.
Throughout his lecture he gave real life situations to help the students relate.
Facebook and other social media sites have created an easy outlet for sharing information, but as Gunderson demonstrated it can create unwanted issues.
“The problem is we started to use this really great technology in ways that are getting us into a little bit of trouble, getting our friends in trouble and in some cases getting our friends hurt,” he said. “The biggest problems I have noticed, the last two years, especially, is how much information we are giving away, sometimes without even thinking about it.“
Gunderson showed how much information can be pulled off social networks with just a few status updates, pictures and limited information.
He then gave the audience two true stories about how this information affected two children — one with a happy ending, the other without.
“Take that time to think, think about what kind of information that you are putting out there for the world to see,” he said.
Cell phones, too, play a key role in sharing too much information, Gunderson said.
“One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is how we are using this technology and what kind of information that is being sent out,” he said. “With phones it is not just about making calls, it’s sending out text messages, picture messages and it is the picture messages where a lot of people are getting themselves into a lot of problems.”
An example the speaker used was about a trio of high school aged kids in Washington who were amid a sexting incident.
Gunderson explained that a pair of girls — 15 and 16 years old — sent a boy a “scandalous” photo that was found by an adult on the boy’s phone. The girls were charged with distributing child pornography, while the boy was charged with possession of child pornography and now all three are registered as sex offenders, Gunderson told the students.
“This isn’t a school issue, it isn’t a local issue, it is a major federal crime,” he said. “If you are sending out these messages and it is crossing state lines, it becomes even more of a federal crime. Just because a message has been deleted from your phone and the other phone doesn’t mean that the image is going. You always want to take the time to think because once you hit the enter button it is out there forever. There is no taking it back.”
And while both of those issues have serious consequences, none touch base more with Gunderson than bullying and cyberbullying.
The speaker admitted to the audience that, he was the victim of bullies growing up.
Gunderson caught the audience’s attention by telling the stories of Phoebe Prince and Seth Walsh — both high school-aged students who were tormented by bullies to the point of ending their lives.
Before opening the floor to some questions, Gunderson left the kids with a few added pieces of advice.
“Don’t respond, don’t retaliate, save the evidence, block the bully, talk to a trusted adult, be a friend to bystanders, and take the time to think,” he told the kids. “In the end it is the action that you decide to take.”
Following the presentation, students Ty Elley and Elyzabeth Raderstorf took a few moments to reflect on the presentation they had witnessed.
“He was awesome,” Elley said, admitting that he found himself to be guilty of sharing too much information. “I learned I need to be more careful about what I am saying on Facebook.”
Both students said they were shocked and a little saddened by the stories that Gunderson shared with them.
“They were all sad stories. I felt really bad that nobody would help,” Raderstorf said. “I don’t think it is right for people to bully other people and to have it go so far that somebody commits suicide is just awful.”
Raderstorf added that she will be taking Gunderson’s advice and start standing up for those who may not know how.
“I think that everybody needs to stand up to bullying and if they don’t they need to get help from somebody,” she said. “I need to stand up with other people. There are some people that get bullied all of the time.”
Gunderson made light of some of the information, but made sure the kids understood the seriousness of the consequences.
“What is really fun about what I do is it changes every day. I have no real plan when I get in front of them on what I am going to talk about,” he said. “Half the time I end up talking about things I never thought I would talk about.”