November 28, 2013

By Marilyn Marshall

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Defender


The murder of another Houston-area teen at another house party promoted on social media is causing concern.

Braveon Terry, a 17-year-old high school student, died outside a Southwest Houston home after a disturbance escalated into gunfire. Three other males were injured, and police are still searching for the gunman. A week earlier, another deadly house party shooting left two teenagers dead and some 20 people injured.

Both shootings have focused attention on the dangers that can arise from social media. To shed light on the subject, the Defender turned to expert Crystal Washing­ton, author of the book, “The Social Media WHY.” 

Q: For those who aren’t social media-savvy, how is it different from calling someone on the phone? 

A: Unlike sending physical invitations or inviting friends by phone, posting party invites on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram opens you up to the world. Even if you post the invitation on a private profile, friends can easily share the information on the social networks with their own friends and strangers.

Q: If a teen puts a notification on social media, is there any way to control the response?

A: The only way to control the guest list of a party where invites were posted on social media is to not include details such as address. Instead, include a phone so that only those approved will receive the details by phone. Another option is to allow guests to RSVP by email, but only send the event details to those who the host/hostess approves. 

Q: Do you have any general social media safety tips? 

A: Always remember that nothing shared on social media is 100 percent private. Direct messages and items posted on personal profiles can easily be shared with the world by friends. 

Q: What can parents can do?

A: Using apps like Net Nanny allows parents to restrict sites and monitor what their children and teens post on social media as well as messages they receive. This is not an issue of trust, it is one of safety. Social media opens children up to a world of opportunities and dangers. One wrong move can result in cyber-bullying, connecting with pedophiles, or being turned down for jobs and scholarships. Strategic use can allow kids to connect with college recruiters, hiring managers, and even impact others through community service and posting positive messages.

Category: Education