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A clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published in Pediatrics, notes the advantages and disadvantages of social media use by children. Social media include popular services such as Facebook and Twitter.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) clinical report explains the use of social media helps children expand social interaction and develop some technical skills.
Besides making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas, the AAP clinical report notes deeper benefits to kids from social media include:
- Opportunities for community engagement by raising money for charity and volunteering
- Development and sharing artistic and music endeavors
- Expanding online connections through shared interests.
The clinical report adds the latter affords an opportunity for teens to develop respect, tolerance, and increased discourse about a range of personal and social issues
Conversely, Gwenn O'Keefe M.D., the AAP clinical report's lead author said (and we quote): 'Some young people find the lure of social media difficult to resist, which can interfere with homework, sleep, and physical activity' (end of quote). In an AAP press release that accompanied the study's publication in Pediatrics, Dr. O'Keefe said (and we quote): 'Parents need to understand how their child is using social media so that they can set appropriate limits' (end of quote).
The AAP clinical report explains social media creates risks for pre-teens and teens that include (and we quote): 'risks from each other, risks of improper use of technology, lack of privacy, sharing too much information, or posting false information about themselves or others' (end of quote).
The AAP clinical report advises parents to talk to children and adolescents about their online use plus some specific issues kids may experience online, such as cyberbullying (also known as online harassment), and sexting. Sexting is defined as (and we quote): 'sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images via cellphone, computer, or other digital devices' (end of quote).
Among other impacts of social media on adolescents, the AAP clinical report discusses what is termed 'Facebook depression.' The report explains this is when preteens or teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites and then, exhibit symptoms of depression, such as withdrawal from friends and family. The report links the social isolation that sometimes accompanies these behaviors with websites that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive and self-destructive behaviors.
The AAP clinical report suggests parents supervise the online activities of their children via active participation and communication instead of taking a less direct approach, such as only monitoring what software and applications kids use. The AAP report also urges families to create an online-use plan that emphasizes the use of social media for the beneficial activities outlined above.
The AAP report is available gratis online. It can be found by typing 'AAP social media report' in Google, or other search engines, and then, click on 'Clinical report: The impact of social media on children.'
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