Children and Blogging
Is blogging something safe for Children? What do parents need to be aware of and take precautions against? These are some questions that parents have asked me as they see that my children blog.
I do see that computer technologies is something that homeschoolers need to look at and keep up to date with. We don’t need to be involved in everything (I am baulking big time at Facebook mainly because of the shallowness of it but there are other social networking options the kids can enjoy – any way I digress!). The point is that our kids do need to be able to live in the world around them and regardless of what we think about it technology has a big part to play.
I believe we need to teach our children from a principle perspective in dealing with the internet – not banning it just because we see dangers. Eg. Teach our children about impulse buying, internet security, credit card dangers etc instead of just point blank refusing internet shopping. The same goes for blogging. There is a lot of negative stuff connected to blogging, but what principles can we live by to ensure our experience is a positive and God glorifying. This is what we need to focus on and build towards as we introduce this form of communicating to our children.
Boundaries we’ve setIt is a learning experience.
We use homeschoolblogger.com
as it is a fairly safe environment (we are talking internet afterall!) Most people there are homeschoolers though this doesn’t mean they are like hearted/minded. It is an easy platform to start working with though there is still plenty the kids can learn (html and template design) if they are so inclined.
Just recently Jessica has moved to Wordpress. We considered this for several months before she made the change. She has proved herself as a regular and meaningful blogger, who valued her time and protected her soul/spirit so we have opened up a bigger blogging world to her. Wordpress also opens up more in the areas of graphics and design, as well as possibly a broader readership.
Use our time wisely. Having a blog can be so beneficial and yet we can waste so much time if we don’t have the self control to move onto better things. Before our children have the freedom to browse blogs or follow links they need to have developed a keen sense of discernment – where they know what is of value to read, and who are the kinds of people they want to be associated with. In the meantime they only follow links I give them.
We have also limited how much time is spent blogging – both viewing other blogs and updating their own. This will depend on the purpose of each child’s blog. Jessica spends more time than the others, but she sees it as a part of her preparation for her future (as we do). The others are still seeing it as an outlet for writing, a social thing, and something to do.
Being a godly friend. Internet relationships/friendships need to be built on the same guidelines as in real life. Bad company corrupts. Our association with people affects our reputation. But then there is the positive side of friendships too - our children need to learn to communicate in grace, with gentleness and truth. We have discussed the idea of being real online as the trend of virtual personalities makes us very uneasy.
Be wise in all you say. We have encouraged our kids to find that balance between sharing about their life – which is part of being a friend, and sharing good writing (good thinking).
Other things to discuss
Other things that we have discussed over time, and I suggest you think about these things before taking on this aspect of technology in your family life.
- What is your goal in letting your children blog? Our goal was that they would use their blog to encourage others – in either spiritual or practical areas of life.
- What name do you want your children to use, do you want them to use their surname? Do you want them to reveal their home town? If you don’t want much of this ‘personal’ information revealed this will affect what the children can write about – they can’t write about visiting the local spots, as they would be recognisable, this also limits photos they can display. You need to consider what you want your children to write about. If no personal information is to be revealed then the blog becomes less personable, and more like a learning journal – which is a viable option.
- Who do you want reading your child's blog - just family and friends - these settings can be made on most setups.
- Do you want them private messaging/emailing? I prefer to keep this option turned off for the younger ones. In my opinion, if older chilidren do have access to this there needs to be transparency in the parent/child relationship in order to monitor this and keep our children safe.
- What standard of writing do you expect. Do you want to check all entries (and possibly all comments) before they are uploaded. Remember just as your child represents your family when they go out and about around town, so too do they represent your family online.
Benefits for the kids
- Buzz – it is a fun thing to do that seems to gel with todays kids – they like being on the computer. It is also something that is ‘modern’ that they can talk about with their non-homeschooling friends, which gives them a connection into the world, and yet their blog need not be anything of the world.
- Learn about the Internet – based on family discussions and the boundaries we have set, they have learnt about internet safely, how to use the internet for their purposes (God’s glory), to discern valuable reading material, and how to monitor their online activity and time spent.
- Jess has learnt a little html and her blog has given her a outlet and motivation to learn about graphics and design – this is a personal interest/talent and one that will be used in her future.
- Writing – writing for an audience (even if it is the audience of grandparents) has fine tuned their writing voice – I encourage the older ones to write more about internal things/challenges, though the younger two are still writing about their life. I do not encourage simple diary entries – dear diary today we went to the zoo. It was fun! I expect it to be well written, to the best of their ability.
- We discuss lots that others write – some because we are encouraged, some because we strongly disagree
- How to be a friend online which is much the same as being a friend in real life.
Rules for Internet use
As always the standard rules for internet safety applies:
- Have the computer in a family room, where people come and go.
- Use a family friendly internet filter
- No internet when parents aren’t at home (actually ask for permission to go online is a good rule of thumb for children)
- Complete transparency - no secrets (this is a good family rule, will protect marriages in the future!)
- Teach children to use the search engines and to discern the results
Our Children's Blogs
Joshua, 16yo blogs at Spitfires
Jessica, 14yo blogs at Little Miss Giggles
Nomi, 12yo blogs at Code Red Jack
Daniel, 10yo blogs at Daniel Letchford
Live life with your kids!
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training our children in computer technologies
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