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Social Media Has Good and Bad Effects on Kids: Experts
Date:3/28/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Social media Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become nearly inescapable facets of modern life, particularly for kids. And a new report suggests they can have real benefits and risks for children.

These sites, and virtual gaming worlds, allow users to interact with each other and they are where children and adolescents are spending a lot, if not most, of their free time, according to a report on the impact of social media just released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report, published online March 28 in Pediatrics, says that more than half of adolescents log on to a social media Web site at least once a day, and nearly one-quarter of teens say they log on to their favorite social media sites 10 or more times each day.

So, what kind of an impact is all that time spent fraternizing over technology instead of in person having on today's youth?

"Social media sites are mostly good. They're where kids socialize and where they connect together today," said report author Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, CEO and editor-in-chief of Pediatrics Now. "Kids' social spaces are shrinking. They don't have the places or the time to hang out like their parents did. Social media allows them to have time to reconnect. But, it has to be done in a way that's not all-encompassing," O'Keeffe said.

"For this to happen, it works better if kids have parents that they can engage with. The best rule of thumb is to be 'friends' with your child on Facebook. If a kid won't friend a parent, it's usually a sign that something's not right," she cautioned.

"Just like most people wouldn't let kids cook in the kitchen or drive a car without first teaching them, kids need to know how Facebook works and how to be on it appropriately. Don't assume that your kid knows all these things," she said.

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