Stories about: facebook

Facing the realities of social networking and kids


Claire McCarthy,MD

A law proposed in California would require that social networking sites like Facebook take down content from the profiles of children under 18 if their parents request it.

On the flip side: Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, thinks that more children under 13 should be allowed to join social network sites. He says that they offer educational opportunities, and that children can learn from each other.

So who is right? Should kids be kept off Facebook until they are 18—or allowed on it when they are 8?

I don’t think either one is right.

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@Pediatrics: the AAP comments on social media use

Image: Flickr/uberculture

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report Monday, saying teenagers who over use social media, like Facebook and twitter, could be engaging in risky behavior, with long-lasting, negative consequences. To prevent social media from becoming problematic, the AAP recommends parents monitor, and when necessary, limit their children’s use of social networking tools and websites.

But before you confiscate your kids’ cell phones and delete their Facebook accounts, it’s important to note that the AAP acknowledges that social media can be a healthy part of kids’ communication, assuming they have the proper guidelines.

“Engaging in social media is a routine activity that research has shown to benefit children and adolescents,” the report reads. “Social media allows teens to accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas.”

Translation: It’s not the technology that dangerous, but how it’s used that can be harmful. Constant access to information is a double-edged sword, and parents need to be mindful of that when examining their children’s online activities. For every website offering homework help, there is a site that helps kids cheat on tests. The same phone that lets them text you when they’re running late from soccer practice can easily be used to send wildly inappropriate pictures to her crush from biology class.

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Children's in the news

USA Today reports that according to a new study, many heavy-set moms and children think they are slimmer than they actually are – a trend that pediatricians and other doctors have been noticing. Children’s Claire McCarthy, MD, adds that that roughly half of her patients are overweight or obese.


American Medical News reports on a recent study that concluded many hospitals are not recognizing the full benefits of social networking through Facebook; though they may have a presence, they let their page sit idle. The report also stated that children’s hospitals are more likely than others to maintain an effective Facebook presence. Children’s Ryan Paul, social media specialist, provides comment on the Children’s Facebook page.


MedPage Today reports on recent findings from Children’s Dale Umetsu, MD, PhD, Lynda Schneider, MD, and colleagues that show children who are allergic to milk may develop a tolerance by taking certain medication coupled with a gradual increase in their exposure to milk.


New England Sports Network (NESN) reports that they have teamed up with the Boston Bruins Foundation and Hess to donate $50,000 to the Children’s Hospital Brain Injury Program. Children’s David Mooney, MD, MPH, discussed the program at last night’s Bruins game.


USA Today reports on new research from Children’s Leonard Zon, MD, in which zebrafish serve as animal models of melanoma, developing a form of the disease genetically similar to human skin cancer tumors. The studies of zebrafish suggest that excessive activity of two genes, rather than mutation to them, are the keys to melanoma. The Boston Globe also reported on the findings.

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Against my better judgement: a week in review

I don’t usually like to do Thrive posts that wrap up a previous week’s events, but last week was an interesting and exciting week on Thrive and at Children’s Hospital Boston, so I thought I’d break my own rule just this once (and I reserve the right to break it again!)

The post by Dr. Brian Skotko (shown here with his sisters Kristin and Allison) generated a lot of conversation—and controversy.

The most widely read, shared and commented on post—by far—was Dr. Brian Skotko’s thought-provoking article, “Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?” Dr. Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow in Children’s Down Syndrome Program and the brother of a young woman with Down syndrome, talked about a new study that says mothers-to-be will soon be able to get a simple blood test during the first trimester of pregnancy that will let them know if their baby will have Down syndrome. This caused Dr. Skotko to ask:

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