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Aurora teens learn social media can backfire

Gerardo Gonzalez 13 Aurorwrites answers questiSunday during meeting intelligent use social medisessiBoys II Men Prisco Center Aurora. | Mary Beth

Gerardo Gonzalez, 13, of Aurora, writes answers to a question Sunday during a meeting on intelligent use of social media in a session of Boys II Men at Prisco Center in Aurora. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 9, 2011 8:05AM

The truth is ... the students involved with the Boys II Men organization learned the impact social media can have at their meeting on Sunday night.

Clayton Muhammad, East Aurora spokesman and Boys II Men founder, presented potentially inappropriate Facebook posts from both inside and outside the group. Social media can accomplish many positive things, but it can also be damaging, he said.

“Just be careful what you post,” he told the group. “You can have the best intentions and go completely awry.”

Muhammad helped the presentation along, with a live version of the popular Facebook game “Truth is.” Students from the group stood up, and had to finish the sentence “Truth is … ” regarding the person involved in the particular posting.

Boys II Men is made up of junior high and high school students from the Aurora area, and meets every first and third Sunday. Social media is pivotal in their futures, Muhammad said. He told the story of his son, who had just started a new job. In the interview process they asked two things: they wanted to know his high school SAT scores, and if he was willing to log into his Facebook account, and leave the room so that they could take a look at the things he posted on his wall.

Tensions were high at the meeting as the students wondered whose posts would make the presentation of inappropriate Facebook entries.

There were pictures of guys with ripped abs and underwear showing. Several statuses contained swearing, or abbreviations for swear words. One person posted something negative about his boss, who later commented on the post. It can even be damaging to like someone else’s inappropriate post.

“The moment you click like, you’ve told the world that’s OK with you,” Muhammad said.

East Aurora freshman Brian Moreno had a post that made the presentation, but he has learned a lot through the Boys II Men group, he said.

“He’s always talking about how the first impression means everything,” Moreno said.

Muhammad told students not to swear, and consider their audience before posting. He told them to type in Microsoft Word, and use spell check their posts. The things you post on social media often are people’s first impression of you as a person, he said.

When something goes out on Facebook, it is there for everyone to see. It only takes one wrong post to change your life, he told the group. Colleges can deny you. Employers can fire you. Everyone can see what you post.

Truth is, that is a heavy impact.

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