Your audiologist will have provided you a lot of relevant information to get you started. They have access to a list of available local groups, therapists, educators and other practical contributors that work with children with hearing loss. But when curiosity gets the best of you and you decide to trek into the world of online information, it’s easy to get lost in advice from internet forums and conflicting articles and opinion pages.
Here are a few tips to be more internet savvy and find trustworthy, helpful and relevant information.
Check for sources
Make sure every webpage you check has a list of sources of where they’re getting information from. If you can’t find details of the source, chances are it’s not factual, so cut your losses and look elsewhere. It’s also good to be wary of online content that has been translated from another language, as vital detail may have been lost in the translation process.
Check the publish date
Webpages should list a date telling you when the information was produced and/or when the site was last amended. Check the currency of news sections, twitter feeds or upcoming events/calendar items for recent activity. Sites that are regularly updated with the latest information are more trustworthy.
Check who has reviewed it
Information should be written or reviewed by a healthcare professional working in that field. This helps you to feel sure the information is clinically correct and up-to-date. You can usually find this in the ‘about us’ section of the website.
Is it accredited?
Is the site a member of a national or globally accredited governing body? Look for logos or links to accrediting bodies. Government sites should have the appropriate logo in a prominent location and will usually link to other government websites.
If the site/organisation provides yearly reports, take a quick look at these documents to gather an overview of the business. This should give you an insight into whether the information they provide is credible.
Tip for using forums
Online forums for parents of children with a hearing loss are primarily used to give and receive support through sharing of stories, experiences and questions in a virtual group setting. There are also Facebook groups online. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Be wary of social media
Social media sharing is instant and does not involve a qualified moderator to preview comments and questions before they are made public.
- Forums are not a substitute
Forum are a great source of comfort that helps parents realise they are not alone. You might discover new coping strategies, practical tips or general advice. But a forum is not designed to replace the relationship you have with your child’s audiologist, nor is it the place to seek clinical advice.
- Check the environment
Before joining any forums scroll through the conversations and check for style and tone to see if it might be a group you would feel comfortable being part of. Look for friendly, fair and balanced exchanges and check any links or medical professionals that people recommend. You can observe or participate in a mix of local and global forums, but Australian forums have more chance of leading to opportunities like meeting up or physically accessing services.
Research academic sources
When searching for peer-reviewed or scholarly articles, you can use specific search engines. They will display a list of academic, published documents linked to the keywords you put in. Many papers are free but if not, you can still get an idea of what the research has shown from the abstract section at the beginning. This type of search helps to define your areas of interest and identify what journals, academics or research institutes you would like to discover more about.
Some common search engines used for academic research:
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