June 26th, 2019
ACPeds Parent Talk

Keeping parents up to date on the latest news in child and teen health
Internet Safety: Keeping Kids Safe This Summer
“The average 8- to 18-year-old spends 7+ hours a day fixated on a screen, whether it's a computer, smartphone, tablet, video games or TV, recent evidence shows.”
Now that summer is here and school is out, it’s likely that children are utilizing much of their new found free-time connected to one of the devices mentioned above. Before our kids sink into their summer routine using these devices, it's up to us, pediatricians, parents, grandparents and caregivers to work together to make sure our kids' summertime cyber-experiences are positive and safe.
Pornography
Internet pornography viewing by children and teens is extremely common. Research shows at least 34% of children using the Internet regularly are exposed to sexual images and by age 18, 90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed .
Pornography use by youth is a risk factor for high-risk sexual behaviors including early sexual debut, sexually aggressive behavior and even addiction to pornography.
Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology including instant messaging and text messaging apps, chat rooms and social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Research suggests that more than half of adolescents have been bullied online at least once and more than 25% of adolescents have been bullied online repeatedly.
Cyberbullies often make comments online that are mean and hateful which can be detrimental to a teen’s mental health, self-esteem and reputation . Also, if a cyberbully has shared inappropriate pictures or messages of a teen, his or her online reputation can be severely damaged, negatively impacting future college and job opportunities .
Child Predators
The FBI is warning parents that they are seeing in increase in the number of sextortion cases involving minors across the country, according to a recent ABCnews.com report . Sextortion is when an adult coerces or entices kids under 18 to "produce a sexually explicit image of themselves and then transmit that image to them on the internet."
Keeping Your Children Safe Online
Being vigilant to put in place safeguards to help protect your children from Internet dangers is an important responsibility.

To help keep your children safe…

  • Keep computers and game consoles in public areas of the home such as the living room and not in bedrooms.

  • Encourage open dialogue with your children about their habits online.Talk to them about their online friends and pages they follow on social media and don’t be afraid to talk to them about the risks of viewing sexually explicit content. A good resource you can use to talk to your children about the dangers of pornography is "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures".

  • Install Internet filtering software on Internet-enabled devices (computers, tablets, video consoles, and smart phones). Visit www.ProtectYoungEyes.com for suggestions.

  • Set screen time and tech-time limits. While there are benefits to children having access to the internet and spending time online, nothing can replace good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction with their family and peers. Encourage your children to go outside and play or hang out with their friends in person.
By no means does this short list address all the concerns and dangers related to child and teen internet use. For more detailed information and resources related to keeping our kids safe on the internet, please check out the ACPeds information handout Protecting Your Children on the Internet which is jam packed with tips and research on how to protect our children online.

For more information:

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