Social media lesson? 2 boys who say they were joking charged with felonies for alleged threats

TACOMA -- We live in an age of technology --  the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and texting.

Students these days have had it all their lives.

"Before this was all invented we, you know, would hear word of mouth -- so social media cuts both ways,” parent Faith Homan said Tuesday.

And it cut deep when the student put this message on his Twitter page: "attention, it's me that is shooting up the school tomorrow so be prepared and goodnight."

A second boy allegedly threatened to shoot faculty members at the school.

When fellow students at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma saw the tweet, word spread -- and the police were called.

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist made the decision to charge the boys with felony harassment -- a serious charge.

"Any threat against our children, we're going to take seriously. And these were especially scary threats. With juveniles, we're not seeking jail times as much as we're seeking to get them back on the straight and narrow and send a message that this is not funny. This is scary and it's criminal,” Lindquist said.

Now comes the debate about who should teach kids about online responsibility and consequences -- schools or parents.

"With kids on social media, I don't know how you stop it.  We live in a world now where we're all connected by telephones and computers and I think parents need to monitor it but it's always that fine line between when do you trust your kids and when do you read everything they post,” Homan said.

“When children are young, the way we teach them to cross the street is we hold their hand and we walk them across and then we watch as they get older and progressively better and finally they're on their own. The same thing with the Internet,” cyber-security expert Linda Criddle said.

Criddle encourages parents to take the lead, gentle if need be, but very direct if necessary.

“You just have to say hey, here's the information. This is not appropriate on a social media site. This can be interpreted in many ways. You put threats or anything else on a social media site it's public. It's the same as standing on a street corner yelling it. That's not OK. You're going to be arrested for things like that,” Criddle said.

"I think the responsibility is society's. I think these are tools that are here in our world and the more help we can give kids and support in making good decisions about everything they encounter the better they're going to be,” parent Yvonne Meziere said.

In court Tuesday, the boys pleaded not guilty.

Their parents asked that the boys be released into their custody, but the judge found the allegations so serious she ordered them held in juvenile detention at least until their next hearing on Nov. 4.