Tech issue or health issue? Pediatricians struggle to guide parents and teens
August 11, 2014
Source - Seattle Times
Your teen’s pediatrician can talk about a good diet, exercise and even tricky stuff like alcohol and safe sex. But what about smartphones, Snapchat and Facebook? “A lot of them are not going to open that Pandora’s Box, either, because it could subvert the clinical visit or because they don’t have the tools to deal with it,” said Bellevue pediatrician and pediatric media adviser Dr. Don Shifrin. I met Shifrin at a Seattle conference of pediatricians and pediatric researchers this month where heads nodded, all around me, to two assertions: that many teen tech issues are also teen health issues, and that many pediatricians have no idea how to address them. It was a good reminder that when technology transforms society at every level, parents are hardly the only ones who have to rethink their roles in response. And when a whole profession needs an upgrade, pushing for change can be slow work. Dr. Megan Moreno of Seattle Children’s Research Institute knows all about it. The director of the social-media research team that put on the conference, Moreno has for years studied the technology issues that can affect teens’ well-being: namely, the host of ways either unbalanced screen time and device use or the wrong shared content can disrupt instead of enhance their mental, physical and emotional health.