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Parents Should Take Teen Tweets with Grain of Salt, in Emergencies

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Call it the "digital hallway" -- because of social media, the high school rumor mill is a lot more vicious, and confusing.

After two security issues at Cedar Rapids schools yesterday, a rash of parent concerns broke out on Facebook. Parents hadn't yet heard from the school district, but saw a lot of rumors from their children's social media updates.

"News is going to spread really fast, but it's not necessarily the right information," said Josh Krakauer, the CEO of Sculpt, a social media agency in Iowa City.

The first thing parents need to think about when they're looking at Facebook and Twitter is whether or not the messages are coming from a credible source, Krakauer said.

"And if not, you should really take it with a grain of salt, because social media is a conversation platform and it's a real time communication channel," he said.

He suggested that parents think of their kids' updates on social media like the messages in a giant digital game of telephone. The ideas can get just as distorted from reality as they do in the face-to-face game, but in the digital world, that can happen a lot faster.

And if parents see a lot of rumors, they should cross-check them with the school district itself, said Kate Moreland with the Iowa City Community School District.

Schools are trying to get out information as quickly as possible, Moreland said.

"But student safety is always the priority, and that sometimes has to take precedent over immediately getting information out," she said.

And while schools do have their own social media pages that they try to update quickly as well, Krakauer said, they need to start dedicating more time to what their students are saying in the digital hallway.

"Because if the word is spreading through those channels, and it's misinformation, they need to be there to correct it," Krakauer said.

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