Parents Should Screen Kids' Summer Web Surfing:
TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- As the school year wraps up,
many kids will replace class time with cyber time -- a trend
leading one researcher to caution parents to watch out for online
hazards such as "sexting" and cyberbullying.
"The Internet is a vast place with great things on it for children like games and educational lessons, David Schwebel, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. "There also are risks and danger such as sex crimes, violence, hatred and prejudice -- a lot of things children need to be protected from."
Schwebel points to a recent
Pediatrics study that revealed about 75 percent of teens have
cell phones and nearly a quarter of all American teens (22 percent)
are surfing a social media site more than 10 times per day.
"Parental controls can help, but are not foolproof," Schwebel noted. "Parents need to teach children to act safely and get help when needed."
To that end, he outlines a number of tips designed to boost
cyber safety among school children.
For one, Internet activity among young children should be
routinely monitored, he advised. Parental participation in their
child's web-surfing activities is a way to teach kids how to
distinguish between appropriate content and inappropriate content,
In addition, pressure to join in common Web activities (such as
posting overly personal photos) should be a topic of conversation
between parents and child, so that children feel empowered to
resist such temptations.
Parents should also be on the lookout for signs that their child
is being unsafely drawn into cyber-prompted activities, such as
arranging to meet strangers they've talked with online.
Lastly, Schwebel encouraged parents to put time restrictions on
cyber activities. "Sitting on the Internet does not burn calories,"
Schwebel said. "Children need to be out running, playing and
For more on cyber safety for children, visit the
Academy of Pediatrics.
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