Pediatrician guidance for social media

March 28, 2011 at 5:50 PM
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BOSTON, March 28 (UPI) -- Facebook and other social media sites have replaced hanging out at the mall for teens, but U.S. pediatricians say social media has pluses and minuses.

To help address the positive and negative aspect social media has on youth and families, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new clinical report, "The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families," scheduled to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

"For some teens and 'tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially," O'Keeffe says in a statement. "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 AAP report says social engagement in social media and online communities can enhance communication, facilitate social interaction not just among friends but discover opportunities to engage in the community and help develop technical skills in teens.

However, teens online can also end up at sites and in situations that are not age-appropriate and research suggests that the content of some social media sites can influence some to engage in risky behaviors. Social media also provides venues for cyberbullying and sexting.

The report adds youth who are more at risk offline tend to also be more at risk online.

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