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38 Alice in Cyberland: Use and Abuse of Internet by Young People and how to Respond to them
  1. PA Michaud
  1. Multidisciplinary Unit for Adolescent Health, University Hospital CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract

Children and adolescents living nowadays were born with internet and the so called information and communication technology “ICTs”, which belong, in most countries of the world, to their everyday life. Not only are pediatricians and health professionals faced with questions from an increasing number of parents, but they will more and more in the future have to consider the assessment of their patients’ use of internet as part of routine history taking. Internet & ICT use is like the two faces of the coin, with both their positive or health threatening aspects. Among the positive features, one should cite an easy access to educational and health information, the promotion of socialization enhancing activities-including those directed at youngsters with chronic conditions -, opportunities for leisure activities which can be quite creative. Isolation, health symptoms, exposure to violence & pornography, incitement to delinquent behavior or self-harm all belong to the darker side of the coin. The assessment of internet use and of situations of problematic use of ICT should not be restricted to the number of hours spent on the computer but should also tackle the impact of the use on the adolescent’s school and social life, as well as the nature of the relation between the young person and ICT: adolescents who use internet for social contacts, to build new worlds or to learn are much less at risk then those who are on line gamers or/and sensation seekers. The presentation will close with some universally exploitable advices for parents.

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