Questions from Readers: Facebook, Anxiety and Driving

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: May 31, 2011 | Topic: Questions from readers

Should I let my pre-teen use Facebook? Should I let my pre-teen use Facebook?


My 11-year-old wants her own Facebook account. I donít really have an issue with it, since I am on Facebook and can regularly check her page. Since this is the way young kids now communicate, are there any special concerns?

Your daughter is too young to have her own social networking site. Facebook limits accounts to children who are at least 13 years of age. However, according to a recent article by Consumer Reports, 7.5 million youngsters under 13 years of age have somehow managed to get around that age restriction.

The advantages of an Internet social network simply donít outweigh the risks for such a young child. Kids that age donít have the maturity, judgment, and self-control to handle that technology. What if she gets upset at someone in her class and makes a comment on her Facebook page or posts an inappropriate picture? Donít you want your daughter interacting in real time with kids, rather than sitting at a computer pressing buttons? Skip the Facebook page, and instead have her invite some friends over to your house for real interactions, not computer simulations.

My nine-year-old is very anxious. Iíve always viewed this as his personality, and I have never sought professional help. However, my doctor, recommended that we place my son on medication as a way to deal with some of his anxious feelings. If we put him on medicine now, does that mean he will need to be on medication for the rest of his life?

For some children, their high level of anxiety can be so overwhelming that it really makes it difficult for them to function. In such cases, medication may be appropriate. However, there are many cognitive-behavioral therapies that can effectively help children manage their anxious feelings. These techniques involve helping kids learn various relaxation strategies, and change the way they think as a way to control the way they feel. I wouldnít recommend putting your child on medication unless he was also seeing a therapist to learn some of these behavioral self-control techniques.

Discuss your concerns directly with your family doctor before making a decision.

My 17-year-old son is refusing to learn to drive. This makes it extremely inconvenient for our family, as we have to change our schedules in order to get him to various school and social events. Iíve asked him several times why he doesnít want to drive, but I canít get any good response from him. Any suggestions?

Donít pressure your son to learn how to drive. However, you should not change your work schedule to accommodate his decision not to learn this important skill. Perhaps his inability to attend several school events may provide him with some motivation for getting his license.

If his reluctance to learn to drive is related to other issues, then have him speak to a school counselor as professional help may be needed.

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Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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