Rapper and youth culture expert Juma Inniss shares his advice for being safe on social media and using it responsibly
By Judy Bass
On September 26, the cafeteria at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton resounded with the lively sounds of rap music and the high-energy presentation of Juma Inniss, an accomplished musician and founder / director of The Message, an organization that helps students more fully understand and appreciate the value of “media literacy, critical thinking and healthy decision-making,” according to its website themessagemovement.com.
When he spoke to the Blue Hills students, Inniss’s theme was digital life, or how to use social media is a way that is safe, enjoyable and responsible.
“The Digital Life Talks with Juma Inniss are important reminders for many of us to check our privacy settings every three months, think before we post, treat others with respect, watch our screen time and be ourselves while keeping our vibes positive,” said Blue Hills Acting Superintendent-Director Jill Rossetti.
According to The Message’s website, Inniss “is a youth culture expert, media literacy educator, and recording artist/producer from Boston. He is also the founder and director of The Message. He has been using popular culture, music, and other media to engage and uplift youth for more than a decade. He has worked extensively in his local community, helping teens develop social consciousness and media literacy skills. Inniss has written and produced two full-length albums. He holds a B.S. in Marketing Communication from Emerson College and an A.S. in Broadcasting from the New England Institute of Art. Inniss is a member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education and an advisor to Media Literacy Now.”
He began his talk at Blue Hills by pointing out that when people are on social media, they are constantly exchanging messages, some of which are positive, while others may be harmful or negative. Noting that we need to be aware that “messages can dictate where our feet go,” Inniss launched into a discussion of some key points regarding smart social media use.
Those points included keeping you location – and your business - to yourself and never sharing passwords with your friends. To reinforce the importance of that final point, Inniss mentioned that 70 per cent of employers screen job candidates’ media profiles before deciding who to hire – and that sharing inappropriate material on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can easily disqualify an applicant.
“You don’t want to close doors on yourself.” Inniss advised the students.
So what else did he tell the students about social media? “Keep it positive,” he urged them. “Avoid things that get you into trouble,” like negative comments about other people. Thirty-nine per cent of kids in Massachusetts have experienced some kind of trauma, he said, so don’t be rude or hurtful online.
Instead, Inniss exhorted them, “Focus on what makes you unique. Every one of you has something to offer the world. Don’t be caught up in what other people are doing.”