Session teaches smart use of social media

Posted April 30, 2010 3:50 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2010 3:55 p.m. EDT

— Organizers of an international World Wide Web Conference in Raleigh turned their attention Friday to helping local students understand that, in a world of information, some things are best left unsaid.

Darrin Green, a senior at Hillside High School in Durham, was among those in attendance for the Social Media Futures Academy. Like a lot of teenagers, he loves Facebook.

“It's a nice program to communicate with your friends,” he said, “(And to) do homework over the Internet.”

But Green says he doesn't like to read the details of his friends' personal lives.

“I'll look back and say, ‘Hey, you might not want to do that, because you're putting your business out,'” he said.

The leaders of the futures academy echoed that message, pointing out that posts to Facebook, MySpace and other websites that seem harmless can have a big impact, even years in the future.

“Employers are out there looking, as well as colleges,” said Maria Rojas, who organized the event Friday.

Rojas and classmate Cathy Freeman, students in the inaugural class of Elon University's graduate program in Interactive Media, work with students and social media as part of their studies.

Rojas said it's more important than ever for students to protect their online reputation.

“When I was applying to graduate schools, I wanted to make sure my brand was safe throughout the Web,” she said.

“Make sure that you're not saying things or posting things online in the heat of the moment that you maybe haven't thought through,” said Freeman.

She told parents that they should keep up with what their children do online, and that it is never too early to caution kids about being careful on the Web.

Green said that, although he has more than 1,000 Facebook friends, he is careful about how much he shares with them.

“Don’t put your personal business out there, because it's actually letting everyone know,” he said.