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Tips on seeking parenting advice online

One thing you will almost not miss on social media is parents seeking advice about one parenting tip or the other. A new mum has trouble producing enough breast milk for her baby.

The next thing she does is pull out her phone and consult, Dr Google. Another one has a baby who has sleep problems and a random member on a group on Facebook says it is time to move baby to her/his cot and start sleep training. But she wants another opinion or 50, so she ask Google, “Should I move baby form by bed?”

The Internet gives her unlimited advice and information, a messy mix of opinions. Much of it is conflicting, and only some of it is accurate. A Washington Post article published in 2015 advises parents to focus on science-backed information, in order to make decisions with confidence, rather than fear or anxiety. You’ll sidestep misinformation traps and mummy wars and steer a straight course toward making evidence-based choices.

According to the article, here are things to consider when seeking parenting information online: Select websites carefully: Start with sites from universities, medical organisations, children’s hospitals and governmental organisations.

These will give you evidence-based information that represents scientific consensus on a topic. Scrutinise credentials: If you are reading a blog or news article, realise you are trusting an individual to interpret the science.

Make sure that person seeks input from experts or has a record of careful analysis, or is an expert himself. Be skeptical: Was this scientific study conducted in petri dishes, in mice or in humans? If humans, how many were included, and was it a population similar to you?

Does this study show one factor causes another, or is it showing a correlation? Natural is not always better: This is a common assumption of parenting blogs, building on our deep desire to keep our children safe. But the natural world is full of deadly toxins, and just because something is natural doesn’t make it safe.

Coconut oil may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it makes a good sunscreen. Don’t over rely on the Internet: Know that no website 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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