Pediatric Intervention helps kids stay safe on social media

The study showed teens who talk to their doctor about their social media use show a decrease in risky behavior, such as friending strangers online
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 8:14 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - As your teen heads back to school in the coming days, now is a great time to check in with them about their social media use.

A recent study by U-W Health shows that teens who received a quick social media counseling session with their pediatrician were more likely to make safer decisions when online. The study showed teens who chatted with their doctor about their social media use showed a decrease in risky behavior, such as friending strangers online. They were also more likely to talk about social media use with their parents.

“Having pediatricians bring up social media and bring up the importance of a family media plan, what we found in our study is that kids were more likely to talk to their parents about getting a family media plan after that kind of encounter. So, we really think that health care providers can play a big role in helping parents feel empowered,” said Megan Moreno, Adolescent Health Expert, UW Health Kids.

Now of course, it’s not just your child’s doctor that can play an important role in those conversations about social media. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a family media toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help families talk about social media safety and set up a plan for media use.

“I think that sometimes parents think that they have to have a perfect speech or have the perfect talk where they sit down for 30 minutes and say all the right things. And the reality is, you know, no parent can really do that in that perfect way. So, what we often say from the pediatrician perspective, is talk about it early and often,” said Moreno.

The conversation doesn’t have to be risky or scary. It can simply be about a popular meme going around, or something funny you saw online to keep that communication open. Dr. Moreno says you can tailor the family media plan to what fits best for you and your family.

To set up your own Family Media Plan, click here.