Teens and Social Media Safety: Tips for Parents

Kids_social_media_safetySnap Chat. Whats App. Voxer. With new online messaging and communications applications seemingly popping up daily, parents more than ever need to be mindful of their children’s technology and social media use, health care providers caution.

“Technology is great, but it has consequences, especially on our younger population,” says Dr. Christopher Min, a CHOC Children’s psychologist.

And while valuable, the convenience and speed of social media and technology can also have lasting impacts: Dr. Min estimates that social media or technology use surface in about half of his patient cases, and he’s seen suicide attempts that were related somehow to social media or technology.

“Teenagers’ lives are very much revolving around these things,” he said.  “It’s made teenage culture very unstable.”

Risky behavior and teens

Teens might be more inclined to participate in risky behavior online for both physical and emotional reasons. First, while their bodies and hormonal systems are fully developed, their brains are not, Dr. Min says.

“Brain development is far from over,” he says. “Their brains have not matured to the point that they can always prioritize, put on the brakes and consider consequences before acting.”

Secondly, teens feel significant pressure to be accepted. They also have a distorted perception of what’s normal because they are so encapsulated in their age group, school and circle of friends, he says.

“Acceptance to a peer group is very important,” says Dr. Min. “Adolescents will go to great lengths to be accepted into a group, or to feel like they are.”

Tips for parents

Every parent wants their child to feel comfortable and happy with friends, but they also want them to stay safe. To that end, Dr. Min has several tips for parents of children using social media and technology:

1. Monitor teens’ social media use.

To what extent a parent should track social media activity depends on the child, Dr. Min says, but parents need to be aware how a child uses these tools. Monitoring can be accomplished through regular discussions or more formal means such as sharing log-in information, depending on the child’s responsibility level.

 2. Encourage teens to get together in person.

The underlying reason for social media is create a sense of connectedness, and this can be accomplished faster than meeting in person. Instead, parents can help create connections by facilitating actual meetings with people, Dr. Min says.

“Be that cool mom or cool dad who makes it fun and cool to hang out at the house,” he advises.

3. Remember that parents control access to social media.

Dr. Min reminds parents that they pay for Internet or cell phone access. Parents should exercise authority and reason with teens by stating clear consequences and rewards for social media use.

“In treatment, I like to help parents realize that in the structure of the family, the control has to rest in the parents,” he says. “They don’t need to be powerless.”

Tips for teens

Dr. Min also has advice for teens. He recommends that teens who are ready to post something online instead pause for five to 10 seconds to consider their actions, the post’s meaning and possible consequences.

“This will help them in not posting things that they don’t want cemented on the Internet forever,” he says.

Learn more about psychology at CHOC Children’s.

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New Webcam System Connects Parents with Babies in the NICU

No parent imagines having to leave the hospital without their newborn. For those parents who have to keep their little ones in the neonatal intensive care unit at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital for treatment, however, there is now special technology to ensure families can be together and bond with their newborns when they can’t be at the bedside.

Baby Peyton Valentine and family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CHOC Children's at Mission Hospital.
Baby Peyton Valentine and her family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CCMH.

CHOC Mission is proud to be the first children’s hospital in California to offer the new NICVIEW webcam system. The system allows families to see real-time, live video of their infant remotely, from anywhere they can log on to the Internet.

“This takes family-centered care to a higher level,” said Liz Drake, clinical nurse specialist in the NICU at CHOC Mission, where the system went live on Aug. 21.

Katie and Andrew Hock of Ladera Ranch were among the first parents to benefit from the NICVIEW webcam system. Their daughter, Madeline, spent time in the NICU at CHOC Mission to be treated for respiratory problems after she was born on Aug. 16. The couple logged on to the webcam right away using their iPhones, and were able to look at their baby when they weren’t at the hospital.

“The camera gave me a sense of security, which is nice. I could see if she was still sleeping and her IV was still in,” said Katie, who along with her husband shared the password for their daughter’s video feed with their parents and siblings, including Katie’s sister who lives in Hawaii.

“The grandparents were addicted to seeing her all hours of the day,” Katie, a first-time mom, said with a laugh.

The NICVIEW webcam is easy to use with any major Internet browser. The information and video are secure, and only the baby’s family can allow other users to access the live video.

Users can view the baby at any time except when the baby is receiving nursing or medical care, or having a procedure. A webcam is mounted at every bedside in the NICU and families can opt in or out at any time, so use of the camera is up to them.

In addition to the bonding benefits of the NICVIEW webcam, there are also health benefits for the new parents and their newborn.

“If you can decrease the anxiety of a parent, you can reduce the overall stress of a hospitalization,” Drake said.

“Another benefit is for nursing mothers. It’s best for a mom to pump breast milk in front of her baby or a picture of her baby as this can help the mom produce more milk. When our moms are at home or can’t be here, this can help them pump with their babies in view. We’re creating a connection where they didn’t have one before,” Drake explained.

She added that the webcams are wonderful tools for military parents who are deployed overseas, and for out-of-state grandparents who can’t visit. It helps siblings at home who want to see their new baby brother or sister. They’re also great for moms who are visiting Orange County, and happen to give birth early or unexpectedly, and have family in another city or state who can’t visit.

Further, the webcams will help families bond with newborns in the NICU during flu season, when only the babies’ parents are allowed in the NICU for health safety reasons, Drake said.

“It’s wonderful. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology,” Katie said.

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State-of-the-art Technology and Expert Staff at CHOC Minimize Radiation Exposure

There’s no place like CHOC Children’s when it comes to providing high-quality and safe imaging services for children. The CHOC Children’s radiology department is the only pediatric facility in Orange County offering a wide range of imaging services using the most advanced equipment, while ensuring the lowest amount of radiation possible.

CHOC Children's Radiology department main lobby.
CHOC Children’s radiology department main lobby.

Recognizing how important imaging is in helping physicians make diagnoses, as well as rising concerns over radiation exposure to children, the expert physicians and staff are dedicated to using low doses of radiation. This is done without sacrificing the quality of images required for quick and accurate diagnoses. Regularly, the department uses between 50 and 70 percent less radiation than community hospitals or independent imaging centers, explains Dr. Nathan Holmes, medical director, CHOC radiology.

CHOC’s pediatric radiologists work closely with staff and referring physicians to determine the most appropriate exam.  In some cases staff may first begin with an imaging technique that uses no radiation, such as an ultrasound machine. This technique may require more time – and definitely more expertise, but can often lead to a correct diagnosis without introducing radiation to the patient.

Technology plays key role
CHOC employs the latest in imaging technology, which includes scanners with pediatric-friendly settings that use lower levels of radiation and take images more quickly before the patient has a chance to move. This lessens the odds of having to redo the scan, thus doubling exposure to radiation.

CHOC’s flash CT scan can complete an entire body scan in less than five seconds, which also reduces the need for anesthesia for restless children.

Further, post-processing work can repeatedly reconstruct the image to make it as clear as it needs to be for the physician to make a diagnosis. This means that images can be captured with lower doses of radiation.

Staff dedicated to highest quality of care
Highly-trained staff and physicians who are dedicated to pediatric care also play a critical role in ensuring successful, low-dose imaging procedures. Experienced physicians and staff tailor the exam and its radiation levels to answer specific questions. Additionally, all staff undergo age-specific training annually to learn how to work and communicate with children of varying ages.

The radiology department also has a dedicated child life specialist who can help support families and patients through education and distraction. A specialist’s help can ensure a faster exam –  resulting in a more enjoyable and efficient visit for you and your child.

The CHOC Children’s radiology department is conveniently located on the first floor of The Bill Holmes Tower at CHOC Children’s Hospital. Click here to learn more.  

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CHOC Operating Rooms Integrate Tech for Better Outcomes

iSuite by Stryker

In the operating room of CHOC Children’s new Bill Holmes Tower, technology helps equipment work together to ensure the best outcomes for young patients.

Using the technology integration system iSuite by Stryker, CHOC is the first children’s hospital in the region to have a fully integrated operating room.  With more than 1,000 presets for individual doctors or disciplines, the system can also control the ambient lights, laproscopic camera and music.

The system anchors all camera and monitoring equipment to a boom overhead.  This eliminates the need for carts and cords, and frees staff to move with less risk of tripping.  The cameras give surgeons a better look at the operating field thanks to a variety of angle possibilities and zoom features.  These images can then be broadcasted on large, high-definition monitors placed inside the operating room.

From the system’s hub, a nurse can control the technology using a touch screen that is akin to an iPad.  The software is easy to use and similar to that of a desktop computer.

Stryker’s Connect Suite Video Conference System allows CHOC surgeons to connect with other experts outside the operating room.  This technology allows experts to give advice, direction and guidance without entering the sterile operating room.  The system can also connect from the operating room to a conference room, or even off site completely.

CHOC is the third facility in the nation – and the only in California – to have Stryker’s media management system, Studio 3.  This system collects still photographs and videos taken during surgery and automatically sends them to a patient’s file.  Doctors can more easily document their cases and follow a patient’s progress over time.  Physicians can use an iPad to show a patient’s family the video and still images captured from surgery.

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CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, Center Provides Latest Tech Innovations

With exciting technology at every turn, The Bill Holmes Tower at CHOC Children’s is filled with the latest equipment and innovations – and the CHOC Heart Institute is no exception. Set to open in the new space next month, the Heart Institute and its Heart Center boasts advanced technology that will help physicians ensure successful patient outcomes.

Dr. Anthony C. Chang (on left) – the Heart Institute’s medical director who also leads a group of medical community members charged with exploring changing medical technology – talks more about the innovations inside the Heart Institute.

Q: What new equipment and technology will be found inside the Heart Institute?
A: We’ll have advanced imaging such as three-dimensional (3-D) real-time echocardiography, and magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) angiography with 3-D anatomic reconstruction.

One of our two cardiac catheterization labs will be a hybrid laboratory so that both diagnostic and interventional cases can occur. Also, we’ll have a cardiopulmonary stress testing suite, where we can perform stress tests and stress echocardiogram testing.

For the first time, these services will be available under one roof: It’s like a separate heart hospital.

Q: What are the advantages of a 3-D echocardiography?
A: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound-derived image, and with a regular echocardiogram, you see a two-dimensional picture on a screen. It doesn’t give you any depth – it’s just basically slices of images. A 3-D echocardiogram gives you depth and a more detailed picture of the heart’s anatomy. It’s like watching a 3-D movie: You get more depth and a more realistic picture. This is particularly important in children because their heart defects can be so complicated.

Q: What are the benefits of 3-D reconstruction in MR and CT angiography?
A: Angiography creates images of the heart’s blood vessels. MR angiography uses magnetic fields, and CT angiography incorporates contrast dye that is injected into a vein. Both techniques generate an image of the heart, but a 3-D image gives us a clearer and more detailed picture. Again, this is state-of-the-art imaging to look at heart defects in children.

Q: How is today’s technology improving the care and outcomes for young patients with heart conditions?
A: Technology leads to more precise diagnoses and better imaging.

Q: What advancements can we expect to see in the near future?
A: Innovation is leading toward equipment and techniques that create less invasive ways to assess and treat a patient’s heart.

Q: What features are you most excited about in the new Heart Institute?
A: Technology is very exciting, but we’re also working toward developing several other clinics within the institute, such as a heart failure clinic; a sports heart health clinic; and a clinic for overweight and obese children; and a cardiovascular genetics clinic. I would like the Heart Institute/Center to become a community resource for heart health.

For more information about the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, please visit http://www.choc.org/heart/.

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