Where can I find credible information about my child’s health?
The internet is filled with valuable, high-quality information, but it also contains information that is incorrect, biased and unreliable. Determining whether a website you’re using is credible can seem confusing, even when it comes to medical and health information.
Here are some tips to decide what’s trustworthy and what’s not.
Who wrote the article? Look for an “About the Author” section at the top, sidebar, or bottom of the page. Some sites will have a corporate author instead of a single person as the author.
- If information is provided on the author: Is the author an expert on the subject matter? What education does the author have? What experience does the author have in the field? Who does the author work for? Does the author have other published works?
- If no author is listed or if no information about the author is provided, this may be a red flag.
- Domain name
Whose website is it? The domain name tells you about who is hosting the site. Schools (medical schools, universities, colleges) often have a .edu domain. Government agencies often have a .gov domain. Non-profit organizations frequently have a .org domain. While these are domain guidelines, it is possible for other types of organizations to have .org domains. You may have also seen .net or .com domains.
Look for reputable sources – a medical school or university, nonprofit healthcare organization, or a state or federal government site. Avoid information that’s been commercially funded or appears to have a conflict of interest.
When was the information published? Health information can become outdated quickly as studies and research are updated. Also search the dates listed in the sites sources. This way you can be sure that the information you’re relying on is current and up-to-date.
What is the site intended to do? The site’s purpose can let you know the motive behind the information being provided. This will help you to identify whether the information is credible or not. Try checking on a home page or an “about” page for more information about the hosting company or organization. Does the company or organization want to:
- Sell a product?
- Provide the public service?
- Provide general information?
- Persuade the public toward a specific point of view?
If the site is trying to sell you a product or persuade you of a view point, the information in the health article you’re reading may have a biased agenda. If the organization is providing general information as a public service, it could be a trustworthy source. Checking to see what other sites the website links to can also give you clues as to whether the information is reliable and unbiased. If the other sites are reputable, you’ve probably found a credible source for health information.
While the internet is a tempting tool at our fingertips, don’t let the internet take too large a role with your child’s health. See your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about health, nutrition, or other medical questions that concern your child.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team on October 31, 2017