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What parents need to know about selecting good quality parenting information

By Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H.

We live in the world of technology with information at our fingertips, literally! Click a web link or turn on the TV and you will see a report on the latest popular advice about raising children. Unfortunately, much of the information is conflicting, confusing, or misinformed.

With countless websites and books on parenting and child development, it’s no wonder parents have a difficult time figuring out what to believe. Dr. Karen DeBord with Virginia Cooperative Extension, and her colleagues Dr. Steve Duncan of Montana State University and Dr. Harriet Heath of Bryn Mawr College, offer these guidelines:

  • Look at the credentials of the writer or teacher: Is he or she presenting research-based information? Is it a known or respected source?
  • Has the research been verified?
  • Does the information or advice fit with your own values and instincts? Does it make sense to you?
  • Does it work in practice?
  • Does the source offer additional support, resources, or contact information?

“It is important for parents to trust their feelings,” DeBord says. “There’s an abundance of information, but we have found that child-rearing is done best when it uses what we know about how children develop.” DeBord advises parents to call their county Cooperative Extension office when they have questions about raising children.

Tim Jahn, formerly of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Family Health and Wellness Program in Suffolk County, offers The Seven Rs of Internet Information:

  1. Is it research-based? Is there scientific evidence or valid research data to support the information?
  2. Is it reputable? Does the website have a national reputation for providing accurate, up-to-date information?
  3. Is it reliable? Usually, websites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov can be trusted to provide reliable information.
  4. Is it reasonable? Is the information fair, objective, thoughtful, and thorough?
  5. Is it relevant? Is the information current? Is the website kept up-to-date? Does the information relate to your present situation?
  6. Does it resonate? Does the information match your needs, expectations, values, and beliefs?
  7. Is it red-flag free? Does the website take an extreme position on issues? Are there political, religious, ideological, or commercial motives behind the website?

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County offers research-based parent education classes throughout Suffolk County. Visit our website at for information on upcoming programs as well as parent education resources. Below are links to some reputable websites that might be of interest.

Zero to Three –

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning –

National Association for the Education of Young Children for Families –

Better Brains for Babies –

Healthy Academy of Pediatrics –

Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation –

Parent Further/Search Institute –

ACT for Youth –

The Parenting Project: Healthy Children, Families and Communities-

Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H., is a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 330 or at



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