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Editorial
Sep 2012

New Media, Old RisksToward an Understanding of the Relationships Between Online and Offline Health Behavior

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Dr Moreno); and Harborview Injury Prevention Center, University of Washington, Seattle (Dr Whitehill).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(9):868-869. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.1320

The Internet began as an environment in which large corporations distributed text-based information to the masses. Technological advancements led to the rise of Internet 2.0, which featured new tools such as blogs and social networking sites and allowed the average user near-instantaneous sharing of text, images, audio, and video with peers and the public. Web users found themselves in the role of both consumers and creators of online content, giving rise to the term social media. In the early days of social media, there were questions about whether the web was a place in which people would form new identities or behave in ways that were dramatically different from their offline selves. Social networking site profiles were suspected of being a shadowy reflection of a person's persona, rather than a portrayal of their true identity. Parents, law enforcement, and child-welfare organizations were worried that these emerging technologies allowed sexual predators and bullies new access to victims. There was disagreement about whether acts such as sexting and cyberbullying represented entirely new phenomena or extensions of existing risks, as well as confusion about how pediatricians could interpret these behaviors in the clinic setting.

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