When we have a question about our child’s health or development, most of us turn to the Internet first, even before we call our doctor. But is that the wisest way to find answers?
It’s a fine place to start, says Dr. Joseph Schneider, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Clinical Information Technology. Pediatricians are now accustomed to parents saying, "I read on the Internet …". Schneider says he often talks with new parents about how to find the best, most reliable information on the Web.
He recommends keeping a tight grip on common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism. "Try not to stick symptoms into a Google search," he says. "When you type words into Google, it doesn’t mean it’s going to give you the answer that’s correct."
Soon, Schneider predicts, parents will be able to type symptoms into credible medical Web sites such as one currently used by physicians called www.isabelhealthcare.com.
Be more cautious about seeking answers from support sites produced by individuals. "That’s not because there’s not good information there but because your child is different," he says.
Back when we only had books to peruse, Schneider said, finding the same information from several sources increased its credibility. Not so with the Internet. "Most times on the Internet it’s just 18 different copies of the same thing."
Don’t hesitate to share what you find with your pediatrician.