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.
The AAP report outlines the positive effects of social media. Engagement in social media and online communities can enhance communication, facilitate social interaction and help develop technical skills. They can help tweens and teens discover opportunities to engage in the community by volunteering, and can help youth shape their sense of identity. These tools also can be useful adjuncts to—and in some cases are replacing—traditional learning methods in the classroom.
But because tweens and teens have a limited capacity for self-regulation and are susceptible to peer pressure, they are at some risk as they engage in and experiment with social media, according to the report. They can find themselves on sites and in situations that are not age-appropriate, and research suggests that the content of some social media sites can influence youth to engage in risky behaviors. In addition, social media provides venues for cyberbullying and sexting, among other dangers. Youth who are more at-risk offline tend to also be more at-risk online.
New Report: Social Media and Kids: Some Benefits, Some Worries (Full Text)
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.