Sexting and online safety are now some of the leading health concerns adults have for children, an annual poll finds.
“The increasing level of concern about Internet safety and sexting that are now ranked even higher than smoking as major childhood health issues really dominates the story this year,” poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the child health evaluation and research unit at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release.
Concerns about Internet safety rose to fourth from eighth in 2014, and sexting climbed from 13th to sixth, the survey found. Childhood obesity, bullying and drug abuse remained the top three child health concerns among adults, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, which was released Aug. 10.
“We found that while the public may find benefits to today’s shifting media environment, whether through cellphones or other technology, many also recognize risks that may make young people vulnerable,” Davis said.
Childhood abuse and neglect ranked fifth, and smoking and tobacco use was seventh, the findings showed.
Other major health concerns adults have for children include: unsafe neighborhoods; alcohol abuse; sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS; depression; suicide; hunger; too few opportunities for physical activity; gun-related injuries; motor vehicle crashes; attention-deficit disorder; autism; medication safety; vaccine safety; infant death; and food allergies.
The survey found racial/ethnic differences in adults’ views of threats to children’s health. For example, black adults rated depression fourth, school safety fifth and alcohol abuse seventh, and their rating of hunger rose from 15th in 2014 to 10th this year.
Overall, child abuse and neglect was ranked as the fifth major health concern, but was ranked third by Hispanic adults.
“We found that adults from different communities across the U.S. see the challenges of child health differently,” Davis said. “It’s important to understand the priorities of different communities we are trying to reach as we work to safeguard children’s health and help them live the healthiest lives they can,” he added.
“The major health issues that people are most worried about for children across the country reflect the health initiatives providers, communities and policy makers should be focused on,” Davis said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for raising safe and healthy children.