For Parents Who Worry about Newborns and Cyberspace

Registration packets were bulkier than usual at the American Academy of Pediatrics national meeting this year because they contained complimentary copies of two new books that comprised an interesting juxtaposition. Both were published by the Academy.

First is the updated, second edition of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality (September 2010). Two pediatricians who also are moms (Dr. Laura A. Jana and Dr. Jennifer Shu) offer information and advice aimed especially at first-time parents who may be feeling curious, anxious, inadequate, and just plain tired as they bring their new baby home and enter a life of day-to-day care for this new little being.

The book includes fresh sections on vaccines, choosing a child care provider, early learning, car seats, safe sleep, cord blood, postpartum depression, vitamin D, organic formulas, disposable vs. cloth diapers, newborn hearing screening, what to keep in your medicine cabinet, and more.

It’s a lot for new parents to take in. And that’s only the beginning — in the blink of an eye, parents will be moving on to the second book, CyberSafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming, and Social Media (October 2010). Every young kid today is what author and pediatrician Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe calls a “digital native” — someone who has never known a world without the Internet, social networking sites, mobile communication technologies, gaming, virtual worlds, texting, and sexting.

The teasing and bullying that many kids experience in the “real world” has followed them into cyberspace. One in five kids will experience online abuse by the time they are in high school, Dr. O’Keeffe notes. I’ve seen this first-hand since my nephews got me onto Facebook and allowed me to Friend them. (Digital immigrant, c’est moi.) I’ve seen some kids taunting and bullying others in their posts.

But you know what? I’ve also seen kids stick up for each other, perhaps more so online than they would have in person. And when one kid vented about his frustrating family and said he would run away from home, his peers rallied around him and encouraged him to think more calmly.

Parents need to know that no matter where their kids will be, they need to be involved, whether it’s in school, on the playground, or on their cellphones, MySpace or Twitter. CyberSafe can help them and their kids be cyber-smart.

–Sherry Boschert (@sherryboschert on Twitter)

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Filed under Family Medicine, IMNG, Pediatrics

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