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Online Parenting: Dos and Don’ts

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Like every other thing in our fast paced world, parenting has evolved. Gone were the days when new moms and dads turned to their parents, grandparents and neighbours for advice over how to care for their children.

These days, few couples live in close proximity with their immediate families. Even worse, they are not really familiar with their neighbors and have no form of support. In addition, today’s moms and dads are “high-information parents.” In other words, they’re accustomed to turning to the internet for any and every question that pops up.

So what happens when baby Esther is acting up and you have spent the entire day trying to figure out what the problem is?

Enter Grandma Google; today’s parents are going online to research how to care for their kids. In a Quartz article, child psychiatrist Dawn Barker admitted turning to the internet as a first-time mom.

She said, “Careers and business women who have been successful in that area of their life can find it challenging not living up to being a textbook mother. So it triggers an obsession to ‘fix’ the problem rather than relax into parenthood.”

Although researching parenting advice is not bad, the information thrown up by search results can be overwhelming. Program Director for Zero to Three, an organization that has been studying new parents for three decades, Rebecca Parlakian, described the trend as positive. She said, “The good news is that parents know more about child development than ever before.”

But how do you go about sifting the wheat from the chaff?  Experts recommend that the best approach is to approach all that online information with some degree of healthy skepticism.

In The Washington Post, Alice Callahan — an author and a mom who has a Ph.D. in nutritional biology — recommends starting your search on sites from universities, medical organizations, children’s hospitals, and governmental organizations.

She also urges parents not to assume that something natural is necessarily safer. Callahan said, “Know that no web site can be a substitute for a healthcare provider. If you think your child is really sick, don’t bring her symptoms to Facebook. Get real medical care.”


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