Moms and Dads, do your homework where your children are concerned…I wish I had.
My young children spent their summers in southern Colorado surrounded by beautiful ten-thousand foot mountains, and near several streams where they fished for hours most every day. If they weren’t fishing they were hiking and exploring. Their two Labradors accompanied them everywhere they went. They left early in the morning with a sack lunch, and most days I didn’t see them until almost dark. They knew those mountains, and I never worried about their safety. I felt like they were getting a “Huck Finn—Tom Sawyer” experience each summer. They absolutely loved it. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was allowing sun exposure to damage the skin cells of my children, and that damage almost took my son’s life.
You can’t imagine my anguish when my 23-year old son was diagnosed with a melanoma on his arm. He was in college at the time, and he didn’t understand the seriousness of the diagnosis. He flippantly asked his dermatologist, “What’s the worse case scenario?” The doctors reply? “You’ll be dead in three months.” My son sobered immediately, and so did I.
My guilt almost made me nauseous. As a young mother I didn’t know what permanent damage sun burns inflict. Had I known, I would have smothered my children with sun block. I can’t imagine now, how I could have been so unaware of something so seriously harmful to my children.
Perhaps my guilt is what makes me pay close attention to the studies being done on subjects that harm children. We are hearing about the harmful affects of head injuries to youth. They are more serious than previously supposed, and prevalent in football and soccer players. With the information available what parents aren’t going to think twice about allowing exposure to the long lasting affects of such trauma?
Concern for the affects of social media should be even more widespread. Why? Because studies show that 95% of the youth between ages 12 and 18 are hooked into social media. 95%! That’s as far reaching as the sun’s rays! Depression, violence, withdrawal, apathy, narcissism…these are all symptoms observed in the studies performed on children/youth addicted to Facebook, texting, video games etc.
I will continue to warn my children to get their bi-annual dermatology check ups. That’s all I can do after the mistakes I made with sun exposure. I just wish someone would have warned me. Well, I’m warning you.