Pediatrics academy tells parents to monitor kids’ online activities

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses children’s physicians can play a vital role in educating parents about setting limits for kids when it comes to technology like texting and Facebook.
“Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use,” the report says. The academy recommends that parents communicate often with their kids about time spent on computers, both to make sure it is not harmful to them and it doesn’t conflict with family time. “I think even in the tween years, this has to be happening because … more and more, pop culture is percolating down to tweens,” Dr. Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, a North Carolina pediatrician and co-author of the report, told The Courier-Journal‘s Darla Carter.
Parents should look for signs of sleep deprivation and “Facebook depression,” which can happen when children spend a lot of time on social media sites. Parents should also have a plan regarding when electronics should be allowed to be used at home, during dinner or at bedtime, for example. Parents should also talk to their children about how to be a “responsible digital citizen,” Clarke-Pearson said, which involves talking about subjects like sexting, cyberbullying or posting inappropriate matter or comments.
Kids and teens can be influenced by social media and other websites to try risky behavior, such inhaling chemicals or trying the choking game, experts say. “The mantra basically is it’s not going to happen to me, so they will do these things because everybody else is,” Dr. Hatim Omar, a pediatrics professor at the University of Kentucky, told Carter.
Earlier this year, the academy reported about one in five teens log onto their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half log on more than once a day. “It also notes that 75 percent of teens own cell phones and 25 percent use them for social media while 54 percent use them for texting and 24 perfect use them for instant messaging,” Carter notes. (Read more)
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