By Priscilla Greear
As summer rolls onward, children spend more fun time outside splashing in pools, constructing sand castles and savoring the lemonade and sunshine. And for downtime they also spend more time scrolling and gaming online from Minecraft to Snapchat. Whether taking a virtual coding class or collecting seahorses in seagrass at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, ensure your child enjoys summer safely with these refresher tips.
Teach your children well
Children can tour the Flagler Museum virtually or visit outschool.com for a wide world of summertime enrichment, but they also can easily drift into perilous internet territory. Take control of digital free time and monitor children’s engagement—remembering who pays for that tablet.
The US Department of Justice advises parents to “stay involved in their children’s digital world, know the apps they use.” It recommends they establish clear guidelines, maintain dialogue and teach children digital safety skills such as to spot red flags and be skeptical of feed recommendations. Teach them to avoid communication with strangers (even apparent children), body safety and boundaries and to say no to inappropriate requests—online like in real life. Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls.
Verywellfamily.com recommends “Best Parental Control Apps” for 2022 to monitor, restrict and manage digital usage. ”While apps aren’t always 100 percent foolproof they are an important tool that can help parents learn more about what their kids are doing online.”
The CNN article “Children Under 10 Are Using Social Media” recommends Common Sense Media for parental tools and research. The article includes links to controls for Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat. “If parents can’t commit to taking an active role in their child’s social media use they should have their child wait to use these apps,” says pediatric research scientist Sarah Clark.
Take an ounce of prevention
When kids do get outside, intoxicating ultraviolet rays can burn, increasing a child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies under 6 months avoid direct sunlight. When not possible apply at least SPF 15 to small areas, testing sunscreen on the child’s back for allergic reactions. The best defense for everyone is covering up and minimizing exposure from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Experts advise at least SPF 35, broad spectrum UVA and UVB ray protection, applying an ounce per application every two hours, and using sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, according to CNN’s “Everything You need to know to fight sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer.” Darker skin tones might prefer clear lotions. Environmental Working Group recommends mineral sunscreens containing zinc or titanium dioxide for less skin irritation and coral reef damage.
Supervise your little dolphins
Drowning is the top cause of death for children under 5 in Miami-Dade so teach children to swim early. Your child will be safer at the beach and pool by enrolling in a Learn2Swim class. Swim classes are offered at 15 County pool locations. They are available year-round, depending on demand, in two-week sessions. Swim classes are 30 to 45 minutes long. The cost of swim lessons varies per session depending on pool location. You will be taught by certified American Red Cross water safety instructors. Seattle Children’s Summer Safety Tips advises to always have an experienced swimmer watch children in or near water, picking “child watchers” at family events and having young ones wear life vests. Check out The Children’s Trust Water Watchers or visit miamidadedrowningpreventioncoalition.org for more tips.
Play it safe
On average over 500 children are treated daily in emergency rooms for bike injuries and those wearing helmets are significantly less likely to suffer head/neck injuries. Visit a bike shop to find the best fitting helmet for riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or rollerblades, says The Washington Post. Healthline.com states that trampolines should have a closed safety net and are not advised for kids under 6—and children should never flip.
Check Your Car Seat
Always strap children in a properly fitted car seat, booster seat or seat belt. Visit the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami at Jackson Memorial Medical Center to get car seats checked for proper installation. For an appointment call (305) 243-909.