Cincinnati Bell App Update: Pokemon Go

Earlier this month I wrote a brief blog concerning the hottest app of 2016: Pokemon Go.

This Cincinnati Bell App Update provide some additional depth on this craze that has taken the mobile world by storm.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cincinnati Bell App Update: Tumblr

I’ve been using Tumblr to distribute my articles for about two years. However, I’ve spent very little time reading other people’s content… until recently… and that’s the purpose of this video.

If you don’t already know,  Tumblr is considered a micro-blogging platform. It’s both and app and a website. However, in reality it is much more than that. It’s a platform that allows users to share  text, photos, videos, links, music and much more. As of April 2016 Tumblr hosted over 280 million blogs and had 550 million users.

This video takes a look at our concerns related to children using this app.


Posted in Education, family, harassing, Parenting, Safety, sextortion, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cincinnati Bell App Update: Hot Or Not

Growing up can be difficult. Teens are almost by design concerned with how they look, sound and whether they fit in.

Many of today’s apps don’t help – as many teens are rated by apps  that score their users by looks, first dates, and other superficial elements of today’s culture.

There are at least 50 such apps with  names such as BeNaughty, GROWLr and Skout just to name a few.

Life can indeed be challenging when you live in a world of likes, dislikes, swipes left, swipes right.

So today we’ll look at one such app…Hot or Not.

Posted in harassing, Parenting, Safety, sextortion, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Pokémon Go App: Remote Trap, Dead Body and Other Family Fun

Just when you thought there was a lull in the onslaught of apps for your child’s device – out pops Pokémon Go. On the surface, this new virtual reality app is a fun and ingenious game that combines real life with images superimposed over video captured by your phone. Yet, as with any such app, you’ve got to use caution and common sense.

The game allows players a multitude  of actions including: capturing, battling, training and even trading these digital/virtual Pokémon that are encountered when logged-in. Parents must be aware, that although this is a free game on a free app – there are also “in-app purchases” that might surprise you at the end of the month.

A future release will provide an  optional wearable device  called Pokémon Go Plus . This device  can be used to help eliminate the many injuries that have been suffered by users that have difficulty navigating their screens and walking at the same time.

The popularity of this new app is unquestionable. After just  24 hours following its launch in early July 2016, Pokémon Go topped the American App Store’s “Top Grossing” and “Free” charts. Not a bad start.

In that brief time, two major events followed: According to The Guardian,  armed robbers leveraged the GPS features of the game to lure victims to a remote trap in Missouri. Police believe the suspects used the phone app, which directs users to capture imaginary superimposed onto the real world, to tempt players into secluded areas where they could be easily robbed.

According to the report, “The robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.” NOTE TO PARENTS: If you choose to allow your child to download this app, please also make certain that they use caution when alerting strangers of their future location.

Additionally,  during the last couple of weeks since its release, users have been hospitalized after chasing fictional creatures into perilous locations. In one such case, the app inadvertently led one user into someone’s home. Apparently the app had labeled the private home as a “church.”

On July 8th,  the game led a Wyoming teenager to a dead body in a river. Shayla Wiggens told local TV station, KCWY, “I just got up and went for my little walk, a walk to catch Pokémon,” The chase led her to a bridge over the river.  She spotted two deer on the edge of the river — and a corpse not far from where she was standing.

The world of apps has been and will continue to reshape how we are entertained and how we communicate. However, there will continue to be those unintended consequences that must be considered. Although this new virtual reality game is indeed fascinating – the risk/reward for any app that provides your child’s location to strangers must be considered thoroughly and thoughtfully.



Posted in Computer Fraud and abuse, Education, family, IP address, Mobile Technology, Parenting, Safety, stalking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cincinnati Bell App Update: SnapChat’s Speed Filter

Recently an 18 year-old woman in Georgia, was allegedly using an app while driving three of her friends home in her dad’s Mercedes.

The young woman apparently wanted to reach 100 miles per hour on her jaunt through town. So she used a specific app feature to record a video that would overlay her speed to the video. She’d then text the resulting file to her friends.

Sadly, this adventure ended in tragedy as her car hit an Uber driver after having reached a speed of 107 miles per hour.

The app used by this young woman is on the majority of teen phones throughout the western world. Snapchat.

This brief video examines the filter to help parents better understand the app and its use among teens.

Posted in Education, family, Georgia Teen, Mobile Technology, Parenting, Safety, snap chat, speed filter, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angry, Unfiltered Words: The Digital Tattoo

Unless you’ve been living  in  a cave or a Tibetan Monastery, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the  young boy that had walked away from his mother – and in the moments that followed a firestorm of activity on social media turned a relaxing day with the family at the Cincinnati Zoo zoo into an international story.

As has played out on nightly TV, cable news and social media,  , a 17 year-old Lowland Mountain Gorilla was shot by zoo-keepers after the aforementioned young boy made it over a 3-foot barrier and a 4-foot hedge and subsequently fell into a moat surrounding the gorilla exhibit. Fearing that Harambe, the massive gorilla might harm the boy, the zoo shot and killed the gorilla. That shot sent shock waves of criticism across social media, indicting everyone involved; from innocent bystanders, the mother, the zoo and even the media.

This article is not about how the tragedy could have been avoided. Rather, it’s about how social media plays a role in public shaming, rumor mongering and damaged lives. Moreover, the lives that are damaged are not just those immediately involved in the incident – but also those involved in the social media frenzy. I call this the DIGITAL TATTOO.

The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo was only the most recent shaming episode to grace the digital landscape. Although many hear and participate in the ugly banter, few see and feel the aftermath of such public ridicule.

For example, the March 21st, 2013 article in Forbes Magazine, highlights the case of Adria Richards. Adria was attending a developer’s conference one weekend. As a young woman in the IT field she likely was one of the few females attending the event. While seated at the conference she overheard two male attendees making what she felt were overtly sexist jokes.

Like many young women surrounded by a largely male audience, the tone and content of the jokes made her feel uncomfortable.  Rather than confronting the men directly, she snapped and then tweeted their photos in an attempt to publicly shame them. This resulted in the firing of both men due to the resulting social media shaming. However, the public outcry didn’t end there either. Adria’s company became the victim of a Denial of Service Attack (DoS) and a call for the firing of Adria for her handling of the situation. The result: Adria lost her job.

The vitriolic slander and rancor against Adria went well beyond contempt – and escalated to downright threats, with one person, I’ll call “George” tweeting, “I hope she f#cking dies” as well as, “Maybe I can invent a device that rapes women over the internet.”

Who would think one inappropriate comment and one tweet at a tech conference would end with Adria and the two men being unemployed? Who would have thought that each would have been so ferociously attacked by faceless strangers? Who would have thought that their story would play out across the pages of Forbes Magazine?


In an April 15th article on CNN, writer Todd Leopold interviewed Father James Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and editor-at-large of America magazine. Father Martin suggested that one’s initial online disapproval evolves often to “as a complete shaming of the person.”

He went on to say, “There’s a real cruelty that comes with this mob mentality. I sometimes compare it to bullies in a schoolyard all ganging up on person who, for one second, said the wrong thing.”

Isn’t that what really occurred in the case of Harambe the gorilla, the little boy and his parents? One comment evolved into thousands of negative tweets and posts about the parents and the zoo. There were lost of comments, assumptions and conjecture before anyone really knew the facts.


I recently discovered that a friend had a tattoo for many years. I had no idea until it somehow came up in a conversation. I asked him why he decided  to add the ink to his leg. He laughed, “It was in a moment of weakness. Everybody on spring break was doing it I really didn’t give it enough thought. Now it’s a bit too late.”

Social media is a lot like a poorly thought out decision to get a tattoo. We often type before we think. In fact, social media is littered with such contempt for the ill-timed joke, poor spelling, inappropriate photo, typo, wrong-sided political commentary et al. However, while we often see the tweet or post, what we don’t see is the result when days, weeks, months, years later that your errant comment that was made during the heat of the moment is eventually seen by an employer, future employer or college coach. I call this the Indelible Theory. Meaning: everything posted to the internet lives on forever. It’s more than just a threat made to teenagers to keep them from posting. It’s a digital tattoo.


According to research conducted by Career Builders in 2014, 43% of employers search the social media postings of applicants.

Some of the reasons listed to pass on a candidate included:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46 percent
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41 percent
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills – 32 percent
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28 percent
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22 percent
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21 percent


We often forget that a negative tweet might not just be discovered on your twitter account, but on the account of others with whom you have communicated. For example, the Twitter user I call “George” will forever be known by his infamous tweet. There’s a good chance that when he applies for a job that single tweet made in 2013 will be discovered by an employer. Thus the often unseen results of a moment of weakness – when his bravado got the best of him —  is forever emblazoned on the ethers of social media… or in his case Forbes Magazine as well.


The same is true for aspiring athletes. According to a US Youth Soccer survey of college coaches, 322 responded and suggested that social media plays an important role in their recruiting process. A whopping 89 percent of those coaches said a player’s social media presence has negatively affected their view of the athlete.

On May 9th of this year I wrote an article about this same issue. I related how a local high school football player had tweeted one negative comment about a girl in his school. That comment was seen by a coach that was likely using “social listening” software such as GeoFeedia. The coach promptly contacted the young man and rescinded his scholarship offer. Again, the Indelible Theory.


Long after the story of Harambe has been replaced by the next series of tragedies and scandals on social media and cable news, the tweets and post of thousands of angry, sarcastic and negative people will still be indelibly etched into the digital canvas of time. Those unfiltered words that were typed at the speed of thought might someday unravel the very lives of their authors.


Posted in Education, family, google, harassing, Instagram, Mobile Technology, Parenting, Safety, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media & Recruiting: Character & Behavior Count!

A few months ago I was visiting an Ohio high school to present  our Social Media program to two different groups of high school students. While waiting for the second group to enter the auditorium, the football coach approached me and said, “I wish you had been here yesterday.” I laughed and asked him, “Why?” He then went on to tell me how his number one player had just lost a $200,000 football scholarship to a Division I program for sending one negative Tweet about a girl in the school. Apparently the young man didn’t know that most Division I schools have staff that use social listening programs to monitor recruits and existing players on social media.

With social media, character and behavior count more than ever.

It used  to be that the only way to you could keep tabs on your recruits was through their high school coaches, school administration, the newspaper covering local sports  and when allowed — periodic phone calls to the recruit.  Those days have long since passed. Today, there’s social listening.

Say what? Social Listening comes in a variety of forms. In some cases it’s simply a staff member in the athletic department who manually follows high school recruits and current players through their activity on Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Facebook. For larger athletic departments, its using such tools as GeoFeedia, SnapTrends and other tools that can literally follow hundreds or thousands of feeds from athletes on most any given social media platform. Schools that might spend $500,000 in tuitions and development of a player want to be certain that young man or woman  is of good character and behavior. These tools are often part of the litmus test.

In my travels I’ve likely made the same observations as you. An 18 year old boy or girl might look like an adult, but in many ways they are still kids. Then consider that each one of them has a tool in their hand that provides instantaneous self-gratification through ephemeral texting, heavily filtered selfies, hashtag laden tweets and sentence ending emoji’s. Even the best of teens often will say and do things without any thought of the consequences.

Dr. Michele Borba, suggests that many teen are so obsessed with texting and “selfies” that they’ve never learned empathy for their peers and those in their homes and community. I think all of us have been out to eat only to see a family of 4 with their noses buried in their phones without regard to the people at their own table. The human social factor that helps to deliver empathy is often missing in today’s youth.

The resulting “Selfie Generation” has indeed created an “empathy crisis.” In her book, UnSelfie, Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In Our All-About Me World, Dr. Borba says that teens today are  forty percent less empathetic than they were just a generation ago, and narcissism has increased fifty- eight percent. Much like the boy that lost a scholarship for sending a nasty tweet about a girl at his school – our new digital culture has led to teens making rash judgments and taking quick action without regard to consequences.

However, there are countless examples of how a teen’s digital actions have created immense obstacles for their future success. It is often best witnessed during recruiting season at high schools across the country.

The problem continues when the recruit enrolls in the college. Assistant IU basketball coach, J.D. Campbell told the Indy Star, “It’s just really important to be honest and really important to remind them as much as you possibly can, that your reputation is always on the line.  Break it down to them that this is your family, you represent your family first.”

I might add that your digital reputation can follow you for life – there’s no taking back a Tweet, a post, a picture or a video. If it’s on social media, it’s now searchable.

Nebraska director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson told ESPN that social media, “Has revolutionized recruiting. Sure, cell phones have had a huge influence in the process, allowing recruiters to go mobile with their communication. But with today’s technology, cell phones are merely a vehicle for social media use.”

Unfortunately, for every good there is often a bad. Through social media, coaches can easily see what a recruit is posting; what they like or shared; and have access to their social media friends. In just a few minutes, a coach can make a decision about an athlete’s behavior and character. It might not be the reality – but as they say, “perception is reality.” You seldom have a chance to explain. In 30 seconds you could be written off of a recruiting list due to your social media activity —  and not even know it.


In the January 2016 RecruitingNation Artcle, Jeremy Crabtree wrote about SMU Defensive Coordinator Van Malone. Coach Van Malone tweeted a redacted dossier on one of the Mustangs’ commitments. It’s a tremendous insight into how coaches make decisions as it relates to a recruit’s social media activity.

Social media can illustrate a student’s work in the community, their academic and athletic accomplishments and their communication skills. Social media has infinite possibilities for those who master its positive use.

“I wish you had been here yesterday,” resonates with me still today. How many young men and women were on the radar of a college but unbeknownst to them, they were dropped from the coach’s whiteboard due to their online behavior?

Social listening has made the job of recruiting a little easier for those with access to social listening tools.

With social media, character and behavior count more than ever.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment