Newswise — LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2011) — Recent guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that pediatricians ask school-age children and adolescents whether or not they are on Facebook, and use it as a transition to discussing the impact of social media on a child's development. At the Kentucky Children's Hospital, these types of questions have been incorporated into all physical and behavioral health clinical exams. "Social media is an important issue and it is not a fad; it is here to stay," said Marlene Huff, Kentucky Children's Hospital child and adolescent behavioral health therapist and associate director of the Division of Adolescent Medicine. "In regular exams we ask children what their username and password is for their social media accounts, if they tell the truth about their age, if their parents are part of their 'friends' network, who their 'friends' are and if they are their age, and what they use the social networking sites for." Huff highlights the importance of knowing how your child communicates with their friends outside of school, and suggests that parents limit the amount of time spent on technology such as video games, cell phones, computers and television. In the Division of Adolescent Medicine at KCH, patients are required to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity to learn team-building and social skills, and to interact with other students. There are benefits to social media, especially for more reserved children, Huff said.
"Social media can help children that are slow to warm up gain confidence and learn the basic social rules of engagement. The next step, as a parent, is to take what they've learned online into real life and help them practice that with real people as opposed to virtual persons. Social media can be a very helpful launching pad. People think you're born with the art of chit chat and that's not true - it’s a skill that children can learn through social media." Advice to parents:-Everything in moderation. Social media, when used appropriately and in moderation, can be used as a key to a successful life.-Get involved in your child's life - on and offline.-Expose your child to a wide variety of influences.-Surf the web together with your child - there's a lot your child can teach you.