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Tech Resources Helping Kids Through Puberty

“I remember the first time I shaved my legs, I didn’t even tell my mom,” says Bortner. “I was like, ‘Mom, look what I did.’ She was like, ‘Oh, I hope you did it the right way.'”

Bortner, now an intern at Oomla, said he didn’t follow any specific channel. And he acknowledged that sometimes the information she found wasn’t legitimate, like the time she ran into a couple of beauty YouTubers offering her some sketchy advice.

“I remember seeing a video titled something like, ‘What to do to ease your period pain,’” says Bortner. “They said to take a laptop when it gets too hot and put it in the area… All the comments were like, ‘Why are you telling people to do this?'”

Though Bortner was smart enough to know bad advice when he saw it, others might not be. puberty is starting earlier and lasting longer, from the age of eight or nine. Therefore, young children are likely to explore the same topics that were once considered teen topics.

Naturally, parents worry about what their children will find.

“There is a huge fear, not unjustified, that children will end up on porn sites when they start looking for information,” says Natterson. “Many do, so it’s not an unreasonable concern. So how do you navigate that?

Natterson explains that he starts by being the trusted adult who can help sift through the information and, again, keep the conversation open.

dr Meredith McNamara agrees. McNamara, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine who specializes in adolescent medicine, suggests adults watch content with teens.

“I would recommend that parents, guardians, loved ones and providers ask this young man what he has found and what he has read,” says McNamara. “I don’t believe in unrestricted access to social media. I think it has to be a continuously open conversation. I think the focus of this is for the adult to be a little bit humble and ‘What can I learn from my young person who is going through this stage?’ it’s huge.”

McNamara said some of her patients turn to YouTubers who explain concepts very well and others whose content is a little different or potentially inaccurate. Even when she corrects misinformation, McNamara always makes sure to thank her patients for showing her the material and tells them that she has learned something that helps her understand them better.

“It really puts the young man in control of what’s most important to him, which is his body and his life,” he said.

Resources for trans and non-binary children

McNamara co-authored, along with six other medical and legal experts, of a report in May that criticized scientific claims used as justification to criminalize medical treatment for transgender youth in Texas and Alabama. She has also co-authored several opinion pieces on the subject.

Although the Internet can be tough, especially for marginalized groups, McNamara said she has found positives for the gender-diverse community.

“There is so much interesting data that shows that social media is very protective and supportive of gender diverse youth, meeting and developing really constructive and supportive friendships, reaching out to each other when maybe they wouldn’t. being raised in supportive homes,” says McNamara.


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