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Evans — Internet is no place to find medical advice for children

Kara Evans writes on parenting for The Armchair Mayor News.

COLUMN — There are endless things you can look up on the Internet. Whether it is a recipe for the perfect pulled pork sandwich filling or complete lyrics to Miley Cyrus’ latest hit, the Internet is a wonderfully endless world of tip, tricks, and useless knowledge.

We as a society are drawn to the Internet these days as our go-to source for finding things out. No longer are trivial disputes drawn out over months on end; a simple visit to Wikipedia (even though its legitimacy is frequently questioned) can nip heated debates in the bud.

KaraEvanscol-babyOn the flipside of things, the Internet is filled with personal opinions, poor advice, and not-necessarily-good ideas. While there are many legitimate webpages of information, there may be twice as many illegitimate ones.

Enter one of the many problems with the Internet when you become a parent. The Internet becomes an all too tempting handbook for our problems and challenges while raising a child. Baby won’t stop crying? Ask the Internet. Weird rash? Ask the Internet. Teething remedies? You get the pattern.

The people of the Internet are quick to offer solutions and remedies for every ailment your child may come down with, often adding, “This is what my doctor told me,” or “A friend’s aunt did this and it worked!” But is this really the best way to go about making your kid better? Should we be taking advice from parents we don’t even know?

Probably not. Grandma’s advice of Scotch on the soother for a colicky baby may sound like horrible advice to take, but taking the advice of a perfectly good stranger isn’t necessarily any better.

Advice offered on the Internet is often contradicted by other websites and ridiculed by the peanut gallery. This is one of the biggest issues with asking the Internet for advice; everyone suddenly becomes an official spokesperson for what works for them and forums become a, “You’re wrong, I’m right,” battle. Once the hens get clucking, the original question is quickly lost and the name calling and belittling begins.

Even when someone knows better than to ask the parents of the Internet for their opinions, it’s hard not to, especially with the state of doctor availability these days. (A subject deserving of its own column eventually.) Wait lists at walk-in clinics fill up fast, the emergency room is often packed full, and parents just want their child to feel at least a little bit better. When we’re at our wit’s end, the Internet seems like a reasonable solution.

The most important thing to remember if you do need to ask the Internet anything, especially medical advice, is to be safe. Don’t give your child a certain kind of pain medication or herbal remedy just because you read it online and therefore, it must be safe.

While the wait time at the local ER may be a deterrent, the doctors there would rather have you see them, regardless of how small you think your issue is, than see you take ill advice from a stranger on the internet. Trust me.

Kara Evans tweets from @KaraEvs and blogs on http://www.shewriteswords.com.

About Mel Rothenburger (7758 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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