Your child should practice bicycle, skating and skateboard safety. A bicycle helmet is a must when riding bicycles and doing other dangerous sports. Again, trampolines are dangerous.  We discourage their use. If you use one anyway, it must have a perimeter net in place to insure safety. Listening to loud music, especially with earphones, can permanently damage your child’s hearing. You should monitor your child’s earphone volumes.

Continue promoting healthy life-style choices: maintain a healthy body weight, avoid obesity, avoid sugary drinks and snacks, avoid excessive salt intake, exercise frequently (sports teams are a good activity), encourage unstructured outside play, have your child eat a healthy diet (lots of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains).  Other safety approaches mentioned earlier still apply to this age.

This is the age that a new risk appears in childhood: communication technology. This includes social media, television and films, the Internet and cell phones. Some of the dangers of these communication modalities with young children involve physical danger in connecting child predators to your child’s physical location, legal and moral dangers (such as sexting), social dangers (such as cyber-bullying and the disclosure of personal information) and moral danger such as the viewing of pornography. Please see the teenage accident prevention section that follows for a detailed description of these dangers.

We find that many parents are providing their elementary school aged children with cell phones and unfiltered internet access at around 10 to 12 years of age or even earlier. We would encourage a cell phone purchase no earlier than entrance into the 7th grade or preferably later. The possession of a cell phone results in relational independence that young children are not ready for. Simply, children need interactions with others to be supervised by their parents for their own protection and instruction.

Unsupervised Internet access should not be allowed until much later than the 7th grade.  Internet access should be tightly supervised at this age. A school aged child doesn’t have the maturity to resist the natural curiosity of social and sexual exploration that is fundamental to all of us in the human race. Secondly, they don’t know how to behave in the supercharged social situations that are played out on the Internet with pre-teens and teenagers.  Elementary aged children are not mature enough to engage in Internet social sites. Thus, face-book, twitter and instagram sites are not appropriate.

Pornography.  Damaging explicit pornography is only one click away from your young child. The viewing of pornography does great harm to your child’s innocence. Pornographic images are disturbing, and yet irresistible to young children as they are searching for sexual information and stimulation. The pornographic industry portrays sex in ways that exploit women and distort normal human sexual relationships which should be built on love, trust and legal commitments. The porn industry seeks to hook your 11 year old child on this content, insuring an every widening business income. Internet filtering services are a good idea for families, but unfortunately the pornography industry seeks to bypass the filtering process. It takes vigilance and the ability to say no to the use of the internet, to protect your children.

In addition to pornography, child predators are seeking their next victims.  The Internet is their preferred source of victims with their physical locations. Children are very vulnerable and naive to their attacks. Child molesters are known to groom their victims. Grooming is way of ingratiating themselves with their victims prior to their sexual and physical assaults. Thus, don’t trust “nice” people on the Internet with your kids. Don’t assume you know their true ages. Predators pose as young children to conceal their identity and evil intent. Protect your child by keeping them off the Internet, especially chat sites, and by the avoidance of social media.

Because of a child’s immaturity, there is a risk in the unsupervised use of the Internet and social media by young children who may inadvertently connect themselves to someone who intends to hurt them. We encourage you to postpone the use of these communication modalities until a child reaches adolescence (at least 13 years of age) or preferably even after this age depending on your child’s maturity level. If a child needs to do an Internet research project, help them with it yourself, overseeing the project directly.  For these reasons, have your child engage in safer activities that involve other children that are their age in ways that are time honored and safer. Children’s relationships require parental supervision. This includes un-structured play with age appropriate children such as on a playground, engaging in team sports activities, having parties with other children that are supervised (birthday parties are great fun). These interactions tend to mold great friendships with others because they are age and developmental stage appropriate.

Reviewed by Dr. Byrum 3/27/17