Researchers caution about potential harms of parents’ online posts about children


What parents share with others about their children in today’s digital age presents new and often unanticipated risks, according to new research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco on Friday, Oct. 21.

Pediatrician Bahareh Keith, DO, MHSc, FAAP, and law professor Stacey Steinberg, JD, will present the abstract, “What Parents Should Share: Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media and the Pediatrician’s Role,” based on extensive review of medical and legal literature surrounding the topic. In it, they encourage pediatricians to provide parents healthy rules of thumb about online disclosures related to their children.

Parents often create their children’s first digital footprints. Previous research has shown that 92 percent of 2-year-olds in the United States have an online presence, and about one-third make their first appearance on social media sites within their first 24 hours of life.

“The amount of information placed in the digital universe about our children in just a few short years is staggering,” said Dr. Keith, director of the pediatric global health track and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “Parents often consider how to best protect children while the child is using the internet. However, parents–including myself, initially–don’t always consider how their own use of social media may affect their children’s well-being.”