holiday tips from Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, author of the new book, CyberSafe

By JYK Public Relations December 21, 2010

Children today are growing up in a world far different from the one in which their parents were raised. Between the Internet, gaming systems, mp3 players, and cell phones, today’s kids are nearly always connected to something digital. And, because it’s developing so fast, it’s hard for parents to stay on top of the technology—and even harder to figure out how to help their kids make good decisions when it comes to these things.


With the holidays upon us, it is important to remember that while your kids may be at that age to receive the latest and greatest high-tech gadgets, parents need to be aware of the of the challenges that may arise. Receiving gifts from relatives that may not be age appropriate, technology overload, over-stimulation and first time social media interactions are just a few concerns parents may have to navigate this holiday season.


Dr. Gwenn gives provides the tools parents need to help their child navigate the digital world with insight and intelligence. Because, let’s face it, just because kids may be more technologically savvy than their parents doesn’t mean they have the wisdom and understanding to make good decisions with the media they’re using.


Dr. Gwenn’s Holiday Tech Tips


1. Holiday Buying: Keep the gifts child focused and child directed. It can be tempting to buy the latest and greatest high tech whatever it is, game device, phone, toy, but unless your child has that on his or her radar, it will likely get used for a short while then end up sitting in the closet. Good indicators that your child is ready for the technology is

a.         asking for it

b.         showing interest in it at other houses and stores

c.         ready for an upgrade based on what you have at home

d.         is the right age based on expert advice for that technology (see rating systems such as Common Sense Media, my book CyberSafe, age suggestions of manufacturers).


2. Holiday Visiting: Kids often gravitate to technology when visiting friends and relatives this time of year. We often become more lax in what we allow our kids to do in these circumstances from the type of technology (games, DVDs, computer use) to the amount of technology time. Having a go to activity that is not technology related planned is helpful for kids of all ages to avoid media overload and keep the amount of media use balanced.


3. Holiday Traveling: Technology is a useful distraction while traveling from portable DVD players to MP3 players to portable game devices to the movies shown on airplanes. At the same time, our kids can quickly go on media overload due to the duration of some trips. Pay attention to the time and have some non-media related activities on hand such as cards, books and  board games. Also be sure the DVDs are age-appropriate for all the ages of your kids. This can be an especially big issue on airplanes so have alternative activities planned.


In addition, here are some tips for keeping your kids safe online…


Dr. Gwenn's CyberSafety Tips


About CyberSafe


This informative book will guide parents through the landscape of the digital world, helping them better understand things like:


•The history and the future of the Internet

•Cyberbullying (and how to help kids deal with it if it happens to them)

•Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace

•Gaming and virtual worlds

•Parental control systems that allow parents to monitor kids' online activities

•Digital footprints (and how kids can make sure theirs is a good one)


Beyond informing readers on the latest trends in technology, Dr. Gwenn gives provides the tools parents need to help their child navigate the digital world with insight and intelligence. In addition to helping parents understand the digital world so they can help their children thrive in it, the book also includes tips to help the whole family discover the joy of the unplugged world that is still going on around them.



CyberSafe is available at Barnes & Noble and online at Healthy Children and   


About Dr. Gwenn


Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, M.D., F.A.A.P., pediatrician, author, parenting and social media expert, is CEO of Pediatrics Now, a health and communications company dedicated to providing reliable information to today’s busy families. The popular parenting website Pediatrics Now and nationally syndicated blog Dr. Gwenn Is In are the cornerstones of Pediatrics Now’s work.


Dr. Gwenn is a highly respected experts in the online world of kids and one of the few pediatricians working in this area in the United States. She is on Symantec’s Family Norton Online Advisory Council, the speaker’s bureau for the National Partnership for Safe Computing, and consults to a variety of corporate groups on cyber and health 2.0 issues.


As a Fellow and National Spokeswoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she’s on the Executive Committee of the Council on Communications and Media where she’s represented the AAP at the FTC’s Protecting Kids’ Privacy Online: Reviewing The COPPA Rule (June 2010), authored the AAP’s social media parenting tips, and speaks often to the media on behalf of the AAP about the impact of the digital world on today’s kids.


Dr. Gwenn’s newly released book, CyberSafe (10/1/2010, AAP Publishing), continues her journey to help parents keep their kids safe online. The first of its kind on the market by a media-pediatrician, CyberSafe empower parents to participate with their digital kids and teens by understanding how and why they use the digital world.


Dr. Gwenn is one of the most highly sought after pediatric and social media experts seen and heard in the media today, with regular appearances in print, online, radio and TV, and in community and national events as an invited speaker. As a writer and quoted expert, Dr. Gwenn’s has been featured in USA Today, Reuters, Chicago Sun Times,, iVillage, and MomLogic, among others. Her TV work includes appearances on NECN, FoxNews Boston, Nancy Grace, and Good Morning America. She has been an invited speaker to a multitude of groups including local parenting groups, the AAP, the National Association of Medical Communicators, and the Family Online Safety Institute.


Dr. Gwenn lives in a Massachusetts with her husband and very digital teenage daughters who have taught her more about the online world of kids than any study ever could.

Head-shot photo of Dr. Gwen by David Fox, Photographer/Book Jacket JYK Public Relations