Originally published: March 28, 2011
Last updated: March 28, 2011 - 2:45pm
Pediatricians are adding another topic to their list of questions for visits with school-aged and adolescent patients: Are you on Facebook? Recognizing the increasing importance of all types of media in their young patients’ lives, pediatricians often hear from parents who are concerned about their children’s engagement with social media. To help address the many effects -- both positive and negative -- that social media use has on youth and families, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families” in the April issue of Pediatrics (published online March 28). The report offers background on the latest research in this area, and recommendations on how pediatricians, parents and youth can successfully navigate this new mode of communication.
“For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend’s house,” said Gwenn O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP, co-author of the clinical report. “A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones. Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children’s online world – and comfortably parent in that world.”
The new AAP guidelines include recommendations for pediatricians to help families navigate the social media landscape, including:
- Advise parents to talk to children and adolescents about their online use and the specific issues that today’s online kids face, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and difficulty managing their time.
- Advise parents to work on their own “participation gap” in their homes by becoming better educated about the many technologies their children are using.
- Discuss with families the need for a family online-use plan, with an emphasis on citizenship and healthy behavior.
- Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, not just via monitoring software.
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