Youth Health Connection is devoting this June 2022 issue of our newsletter to Digital Well Being: Teaching Youth and Parents and Keeping Youth Safe.

We know that electronics have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. We live in a digital world. Our lives are regulated, and for some, controlled by our connections electronically. While I would argue that our electronic options for connection and communication have been beneficial through our two year of Covid, we do know that the “dark” side of digital tethers have created an increasing concern.

When we look at the data and research, we see an increasing connection between adolescents reporting higher levels of anxiety, depression and eating disorders and increase in use and exposure to social media. Fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are on line constantly. We do know that socio economic factors come in to play, but with Covid and prolonged isolation, teens use of cell phones, social media and social isolation have come together to create what could be a “perfect storm”.

Tip for Better Living:

  • Create a healthy nutrition plan. Among the major factors to living a healthy lifestyle is to adopt a healthy eating plan. …
  • Have a workout routine. Moving regularly should also be a commitment to a healthy lifestyle or weight loss plan. …
  • Think positive and reduce stress.

We want to highlight both the positive aspects of electronics, and the threatening issues we face. As adults who care, it is imperative we act to protect our youth and teach “Digital Literacy”. We would never give our youth the keys to a Ferrari and expect them to understand all the “power” a car like this has. There are many steps we can take to craft a developmentally appropriate stance to use of electronics.

In this issue we highlight how to be appropriate digital role models, with electronics as a platform for communication and connection, for information and education, but always with a lens that is focused on parents being knowledgeable and in charge, never naive or casual, always focused on safety and protection. Anything and anyone can be represented on line. Providing guardrails, monitoring, and limit settings is critical for our youth.

This must be an ongoing conversation, with parents in charge, parents aware, and teaching teens what is real and what is not, providing safety and protection through limits and discipline.
YHC sponsored a presentation by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, a leading national researcher in social media use,

Top Online Threats for Kids (

  1. Cyberbullying: More than 36% of kids age 12–17 have been cyberbullied at some point in their life, and nearly 15% have bullied someone else
    online. Cyberbullying is any aggressive, threatening, or mean-spirited activity conducted via electronic communication (email, social media posts, text messages, etc.). Girls are more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying, and more boys admit to bullying others online.
  2. Online predators: Adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual or other types of abusive exploitation are considered online predators. Child victims can be as young as 1 or as old as 17. When it comes to online enticement, girls make up the majority (78%) of child victims—while the majority (82%) of online predators are male. And 98% of online predators have never met their child targets in real life.
  3. Exposure to inappropriate content: Inappropriate content is one of the most common online threats that kids encounter. Everything from vulgar language and hate speech to graphically violent or sexual images can have a harmful effect on an impressionable child. Over 55% of tweens (kids age 10–12)

Teaching safe and responsible online behavior
You can help your child learn how to use the internet safely, responsibly and enjoyably. If you teach your child how to manage internet safety risks and worrying experiences, your child will build digital resilience. This is the ability to deal with and respond positively to any risks they encounter online.

You can do this by:

  • going online with your child
  • talking with your child about online content and
  • listening to their views
  • being a good role model
  • teaching your child to be careful with personal information
  • teaching your child to avoid online purchases
  • talking about appropriate online behavior.

If you come across pop-up advertisements while you’re online together, it’s a good opportunity to talk with your child about not clicking them. You can explain that pop-up ads can lead to sites with unpleasant pictures or sites that want your personal or financial information.Make sure websites are secure

You can instantly tell if any website is safe by looking for one letter: “s.” Every website address starts with the letters “http,” but you know a site is secure when you see “https.” That means the website itself is taking measures to keep users and their information secure while they use the site. If you’re directed to any websites for school or entertainment that don’t have that extra “s” at the beginning of the address, steer clear.