KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kids and social media; it's a hot button topic for parents.
How young is too young for kids to be on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites? Also, how involved should parents be in their kid's online life?
That is the focus of a new report from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
The report, released Friday, asked more than 2,000 parents and kids about their opinions of children using social media.
According to the study, most parents (72%) think the benefits of social media outweigh the risks. The benefits, according to parents surveyed, are encouraging children to be more open-minded, creative, worldly and enhancing their ability to collaborate with others. Parents said they believe social media will help their children prepare for future work success in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology.
Yet, as kids are growing up in a world where every detail of their life may be plastered online for the world to see, two-thirds of parents surveyed said they worry about their kids being bullied or exposed to inappropriate sexual relationships online.
We asked pediatrician Daryl Lynch to give parents advice on approaching kids about their online habits.
His suggestions: create technology free rules in your home, such as no cell phones or computers at the dinner table, also keep computers in public areas of the house, so children are less tempted to use inappropriate sites. Most importantly Lynch says, monitor your kids social media use, and if you see anything inappropriate, talk to them instead of scolding them.
“Trying to make that a conversation is so much better than attacking or punishing them from the beginning,” Lynch said. “Talk about it from this perspective: You’re going to run into this online, let me help you understand what you’re seeing.”
Takisha Harvey, a mother of four in Kansas City, Kan., says she "friends" and "follows" her children online, and its helped her develop her relationship with them.
"I'm on there asking them what they're doing, what they're looking at, asking them to let me see. Sometimes they will let me see, and sometimes they won't. We can't shield them, so we might as well see what they see."
Pediatricians also recommend limiting time on social media sites to one hour a day.
Most parents said 13 is an appropriate age to allow kids to set up online profiles.
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