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Making Summer Safer For Kids

Jun 04 2014

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L.A. Parent

By Elena Epstein

When asked about their favorite summertime childhood memories, the eclectic panel of speakers brought together by LiveHealth Online last night at the Palihouse in West Hollywood became nostalgic.

“I loved summer camp,” said digital lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, founder of Forward Living and mom of two. “I loved that we could get lost in our own social nonsense.”

“The greatest day of every year was the last day of school,” said Peter Antall, M.D., a Westlake Village pediatrician who works with LiveHealth Online. “Of course, we lived in a different time where we would just get on our bikes and go, and not come back until dinner time.”

Ensuring that today’s children create the same wonderful memories of carefree and fun summers in a safe environment was the main topic of the panel discussion. One of the pressing issues discussed was the enormous role technology now plays in children’s lives. Smart phones, tablets, computers, computer games, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter – for many kids, long summer days spent at the local community pool or riding bikes around the neighborhood with friends have given way to long hours in front of some type of screen.

“Technology is a double-edged sword,” said Knobloch. “It can be this amazing tool for learning and creating, but it can also be disruptive and seductive, stealing our kids away from family time.”

Knobloch shared the strategy she uses with her own kids, ages 13 and 9. She allows more time on the computer when her kids are using it “actively” versus “passively.” For example, if they are on GarageBand creating music or on codecademy learning to write code, they can spend extra time on the computer. But she has strict time limits if they are simply playing an electronic game.

“This is the Wild West for us parents,” said Knobloch. “We didn’t have this technology growing up, so we’re figuring out the boundaries as we go.”

Actress Elisabeth Röhm emphasized the importance of creating non-scheduled time. “I grew up with a non-working mom and I’m a very working mom,” she said. “Every summer, we try to get away somewhere where our daughter can feel free and we don’t have to follow a set schedule.”

Summer is also a high season for injuries among children. Antall emphasized the importance of ensuring that kids are wearing helmets when needed, practice water safety and drink plenty of water during hot summer days.

Besides enjoying the outdoors and uninterrupted time with friends and family, children can also use the summer months to get involved with a community project. Leana Greene, founder of Kids in the House, said she encourages her children to give back during the summer months. “Many of the experts we have interviewed have told us that when kids give back, they realize that they have a place in this world,” she said. “It makes them much more resilient. It can be something simple, but the important thing is that you do it together, as a family.”

The panel was brought together by LiveHealth Online, a new telehealth app designed to allow families face-to-face video access to U.S.-based, board-certified primary care physicians 24/7.

Visit www.livehealthonline.com for more information.