According to WiredSafety.org, over 6 million underage children write blogs with or without their parents’ knowledge. Blogging is particularly popular among children who see their parents blogging either professionally or personally.
Should parents allow their children to blog? How can parents ensure their children are blogging in a safe manner?
What’s all the Fuss About?
A vast number of blogs written by children can be found through MySpace whose terms of service clearly state that anyone over 14 may start a blog through the service. LiveJournal is another popular blogging option for kids and teens. The policy for LiveJournal states that anyone over the age of 13 can start a blog through the service. Unfortunately, there is also a large number of blogs written by children younger than 14 on MySpace, LiveJournal and through other blogging services and software programs. These kids simply lie about their age in the registration process.
Online safety is a big concern for most parents. Should children under 18 be allowed to blog at all? How can parents keep their blogging children safe online. Following is a review of the benefits of blogging for children as well as a number of tips to help parents keep their children safe in the blogosphere.
Online Safety Tips for Kids
Use the following tips to ensure your child’s online activities are safe:
- Rules: Establish rules for blogging and online activities. For example, children should not use their full name, address, school name, personal photos, and so on online. In other words, personally identifiable information should be prohibited.
- Password protection and privacy: Find a blogging service that allows your child’s blog to be private and password-protected so only established, trusted friends can view it.
- Screen the content: Screen what your child writes before he or she publishes it online and discuss potential problems with him or her.
- Monitor the blog: Monitor your child’s blog on a regular basis. Read the content and comments, follow links, read friends’ blogs, and so on to get a full picture of your child’s online activity as it relates to the blog.
- Talk to your child: Take the time to discuss your child’s blog with him or her. Allow him or her to share what he or she is doing and learning technically and socially with you. As he or she shares his or her knowledge with you, take the time to share Internet safety tips (“street smarts”) with him or her. Make your child’s blog a shared experience. When in doubt, Google your child’s name to get a complete picture of his or her online activities.
Where it Stands
Bottom line, most teens and tweens who want to have a blog will try to do so with or without their parents’ permission. No matter what age your child is, the best way to keep him or her safe is to talk to him or her. Keeping open lines of communication and monitoring their online activity are the best ways to maintain Internet security for children.