Using your own common sense is key, Hernandez and Maxwell said. Consider the source of the information and understand that "even among reputable sites, there are still people who just don't know what they're talking about," Maxwell added.
Select sites that follow better practices, the authors say. For instance, beware of any that promise "cures," look for credentialed moderators and check that basic medical information provided is consistent with your doctor's advice.
And, remember that information you find online can never replace discussions and visits with your doctor.
Here are some general tips for protecting yourself and your children on social networking sites from the U.S. government's OnGuardOnline Web site.
SOURCES: Elissa Weitzman, Sc.D., M.Sc., assistant professor, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Boston; Kenneth Mandl, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Boston; Red Maxwell, volunteer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and founder, Juvenation; Manny Hernandez, founder, TuDiabetes; Sue Kirkman, M.D., senior vice president, medical affairs and community information, American Diabetes Association; Jan. 24, 2011, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, online
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