Pediatric Healthcare and the Internet: Why There’s No Substitute for Your PCP

With boundless health-related information seemingly available at your fingertips, it can be tempting to rely on the Internet and social media for pediatric advice. Well-intentioned but busy parents may find themselves Googling lists of symptoms, but never-ending search results make it even harder to reach a diagnosis. For everything from small wounds to nasty viruses, there’s just no substitute for your primary care provider.

“We understand that parents want fast answers to whatever is making their child uncomfortable, but we often see that the overload of information creates unnecessary worry,” says Dr. Patrick Hynes of Prospect Pediatrics. “Our years of experience and established relationships with our patients allow us to make sound judgment calls and put minds at ease.”

Popular health web sites can be misleading, and many aren’t tailored to the unique needs of pediatric patients. What’s safe for an adult may be cause for concern in a child, or vice versa. It can be difficult to identify scientifically-based information on biased web pages, and parents are often racked with fear from sensationalized sites.

Additionally, the rise of “mom groups” and other social media-based resources allow you to get opinions from other parents, but everyone’s experiences are different and these are opinions. Many of these groups now prohibit posts seeking medical guidance for the exact reason that a child could be endangered by incomplete advice. Social media groups are best utilized as resources for community engagement and can offer emotional support for caregivers of children with chronic illness, special needs, or dietary restrictions.

If you do decide to venture online, you can express your concerns to your pediatrician. He or she can offer peace of mind or next steps depending on your child’s needs, and you won’t be judged for being a parent in search of answers. Providers respect your time and the effort you made to attend an appointment, and they want you to get the most out of it.

But your doctor’s office isn’t limited to face-to-face visits—they employ experienced triage staff to answer questions and determine if a visit is necessary. You can ask about symptoms, injuries, medications, and lab results, among other things. All ONE Pediatrics practices offer extended hours, and calls are answered 24 hours a day. When in doubt, call.

The following web sites are recommended for accurate, reliable health information:

The American Academy of Pediatrics:

The Centers for Disease Control: