Both of my children have a blog. For the older one, we monitor it but she is able to post her own recipes in her own voice which is an important development for her. For the younger, we have full control. There’s a huge amount in the press about keeping kids safe on the internet and it’s something we should all be on top of. This guest post has some good tips for doing just that. Enjoy!
Keeping a blog is a fantastic hobby for kids. It encourages literacy, it gets them exploring their interests, it’s a brilliant way for them to express themselves and to think independently – and it can help them join a really supportive, inspiring online community in their chosen area. For many kids, blogging is the diary keeping of the 21st century. But is it safe?
Online child safety experts like the clever team at Quib.ly regularly talk to parents with concerns about blogging for kids. Blogging can have a bad reputation which many parents worry about. From concerns about children sharing too much online, to worries about nasty online ‘Trolls’ and fears about who their kids could be talking to – there are lots of barriers which give mums and dads cause for concern when it comes to blogging. So how can these worries be navigated? Here’s our quick, simple guide to safe blogging for youngsters…
As with all activities for children, it’s important to have clear boundaries in place. You wouldn’t let your little ones loose with BB gun without clear boundaries (only fire at paper targets, never point it at another person or animal etc.), blogging is no different. Make sure your child knows what is appropriate and what isn’t, but take care not to talk in black and white terms (nothing encourages bad behaviour and sneakiness like a strict set of rules).
It’s crucial to have open discussions with your youngsters about blogging and the internet and to make them part of the conversation. For instance, rather than stating that they must never ever publish information about people they know on the internet, take the time to talk to them about why this might not be a good idea and what the potential consequences could be. In this case, the person could become offended and it could hurt their feelings – it could also invade the subject’s privacy.
An essential subject to discuss is the kind of stuff they want to post. If they want to upload pictures of themselves and their friends, for example, or are interested in making videos, make sure they understand the possible dangers and the boundaries they need to stick to. Ask questions like to get them thinking about the possible dangers themselves. i.e. “Why do you think it might be a bad idea to share personal pictures online?”.
Do Your Homework
If your child wants to start a blog, take some time to learn about the possible blogging platforms they can use. Sites like Tumblr, for example, provide a strong and very accessible community made up of people of all ages – some of whom will post content which is not appropriate for younger people (though this can be limited). Meanwhile, blogging platforms like WordPress are more self-contained. Your child can set up and run a blog, with less integration with other bloggers and less immediate access to potentially inappropriate material.
Check out the suitability of any platform your child wants to start using and look closely at the features and settings they may have (many will have advanced privacy options which mean blogs can’t be accessed without a password).
If your child is going to run a public blog, they need to understand that what they post will be visible to everyone (unless they use smart privacy features). This includes you. If they’re not comfortable posting something in front of you, why would they want the rest of the internet to have access to it? Don’t watch like a hawk, but drop in on your kid’s blog occasionally, leave the odd encouraging comment and make sure that everything is appropriate.