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Chatting, texting and (horrors) sexting -- families need a 'family online-use plan,' experts say

March 28, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Families need to monitor kids' social-media activity, experts say.
Families need to monitor kids' social-media activity, experts say. (Candace Jeanette Allen…)

The social-media world is where many children and teens today spend much of their time. That means moms and dads have to develop a different parenting game plan than their own parents used, pediatricians said Monday.

Social media aren't bad things, the report notes, allowing kids to make friends, raise money for a good cause, get help with homework, share interests and forge their unique identities. On the flip side, there are the risks of cyber-bullying, sexting, Internet addiction, depression and loss of sleep from spending too much time online.

Parents need a "family online-use plan," according to the authors of the report, entitled, "The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families." To do that, they said, parents should:

  • Become better educated about the technologies their kids are using.
  • Emphasize the guidelines for healthy and appropriate behavior as part of the family online-use plan.
  • Supervise online activities.
  • Don't allow younger children on sites that have an age-13 minimum.
  • Teach children that the social media sites they visit may capture information about them and target them for advertising.
The report is published online in the journal Pediatrics. More tips for parents can be found through the American Academy of Pediatrics' link "Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting." In addition, see: http://safetynet.aap.org and www.healthychildren.org.

Related: Obama at White House bullying conference: 'I wasn't immune'

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