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Kids' Health Issues to Watch: The Impact of Keeping in Constant Technological Touch

The Impact of Keeping in Constant Technological Touch

From a suicide conviction tied to MySpace to a dramatic rise in texting-related injuries, communication technologies (and their hazards) spent time under the microscope in 2008.

Technology continues to change the face of social dynamics — especially how kids keep in touch with each other. And moms and dads are becoming just as addicted to all things technological as their offspring — with super-short notes tapped out in a flash through email, instant messages, text messages, blogs, message boards, and personal pages.

But news about communication technologies wasn't all rosy in 2008. The country saw its very first cyberbullying conviction. A federal jury found a mother guilty of three counts of computer fraud after she and her young daughter created a fake MySpace page, pretending to be a boy and allegedly contributing to a depressed teen girl's suicide.

Also in '08: A group of ER doctors — the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) — warned students to stop texting while in motion (when driving, walking, biking) since reports of texting-related injuries (and even deaths) are on the rise nationwide.

What to Watch:
Modern communication technologies will continue to grow and diversify. But all of this constant keeping in touch begs the question, "Do we need more virtual boundaries?" Now, the legal precedent has been set for putting an end to cyberbullying. And maybe texters of all ages will be more aware of the dangers of typing away while on the go (especially as more and more states crack down on texting while driving).

But we also need to ask ourselves, "Is our ever-growing reliance on (and obsession with) communication technology changing how we communicate with each other, especially with our kids?" Are quickly typed messages cutting off meaningful, deeper communications? Are moms and dads less in tune with their kids because everyone in the family is plugged in too often (even at the dinner table)? We aren't getting any less busy and being able to zip a quick message off to say who's going to be where and when is priceless. Not to mention, a lot of these widgets are pretty cool. But helping kids and teens develop well-rounded social skills and learn how to have positive personal interactions with others may boil down to just talking to each other more often.

For Kids:
Safe Cyberspace Surfing
When Can I Get a Cell Phone?

For Teens:
How Technology Helps You Stay Connected
Protecting Your Online Identity and Reputation
Safe Surfing Tips for Teens
Texting on the Move

For Parents:
ER Docs Urge Kids to Skip Texting While in Motion
Internet Safety

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