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Be Well, Be Well Informed

Six Tips to Keep Kids Safe Online

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 in Kids' Health

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Kids are growing up immersed in technology. While technology offers great ways to learn and stay connected, excessive and inappropriate use can cause problems, particularly for children and teens. Studies show too much media time can lead to attention problems, lower academic performance, family dysfunction, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. Also, privacy dangers can lurk online.

“My teen patients don’t take the risks of technology seriously,” says Eric Perez, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula pediatrician. “They don’t yet have the life experience to understand how a post on Facebook could keep them from getting a job one day or put them at risk for sexual abuse. Parents have to educate them about the dangers out there.”

Be Tech Savvy
Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help keep kids safe online.

  • Set privacy features. Work with your kids to set strict privacy features on every social media channel they use. Go through channels one by one to check settings together.
  • Avoid tech multitasking. Distracted driving, often caused by texting or talking on a cell phone, is the No. 1 cause of car crashes in the U.S., according to a recent study.
  • Teach teens about the dangers of driving while multitasking, and caution kids of all ages about using mobile devices while walking, biking or doing other things that require their full attention. Be sure to practice what you preach.
  • Know how your kids use technology. Kids use different social media sites as they age. Regularly check in to learn what sites and tools they frequent.
  • Use social media yourself. Join whatever social channels your children use, and have a policy that you “friend” each other.
  • Share your own behaviors. Talk about your daily social media use as a way to start a conversation about your kids’ online habits. Ask questions like, “Any new chats on Facebook?” “Anyone text you today?”

Read more about “The Digital Generation” and how to make the most of technology without letting it rule your family’s life.