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

ut their age to get on to sites, like Facebook, that have strict age limits, said O'Keeffe. She said parents shouldn't condone this. "Facebook is geared toward teen age and up. There are ads and content on the site for an older group. Normally, you wouldn't let your 11-year-old hang out with 16-year-olds. Plus, if you let younger kids on these sites, you're teaching them that it's OK to lie."

The report found that social media encourage kids to connect with each other and to express their creativity. They also provide an opportunity for learning, and are a way for teens to access health information. And, kids that have chronic illnesses can find others with their condition and get support they might not otherwise have access to.

But, these sites are not without risk, according to the report. One of the biggest risks is cyberbullying and online harassment.

"Technology is an extension of what goes on in the real world. Bullying was around before the Internet, but cyberbullying makes it easier," explained Dr. Brian Primack, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Primack also noted that children are hardwired to experiment and push boundaries. Today's technology may just make that easier. Primack pointed out that "sexting" is a good example of this. Sexting is defined as "sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images via cell phone, computer or other digital devices," according to the report.

"Kids have always wanted to look at nude pictures, and today, taking and sending a picture can be done in a second," Primack said, adding that such pictures could come back to haunt children years later.

"We need more technology infrastructure, and pediatricians need to be ready to intervene and help educate young people and their parents on how to be more media literate, and how they can evaluate the types of things they're exposed to," said Pr
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