Blogs, or online diaries, are exploding in popularity among both adults and kids. While blogging used to be limited to a technologically-savvy few, there are now many sites that allow you to set up a blog with only a few clicks of the mouse. Some of these sites, such as Blogger , Xanga , MySpace and LiveJournal , are especially popular with teenagers.
Blogs can be a great way for teenagers to express themselves, explore their identities, and practice writing skills. However, kids need to understand that these posts are out there for all the world to see. Few teenagers use any security settings on their blogs, yet they often imagine that what they post is private. Many give out personal information about themselves - where they go to school, phone numbers, addresses, where they hang out. Some even post pictures of themselves on their blogs. While there have been no reported instances of predators finding victims on blogs, the potential is certainly there, and kids need to be careful about what information they give out.
- Limit posts to "friends only": Many blogging sites allow your child to set the security level on a post so that only selected people can read it. Typically, she must select the security level from a list of possible settings, including public (anybody can read the post), private (only she can read the post), or protected (only people on a list can read the post).
Blogs are sometimes used as a tool for cyberbullying (harassing other kids online). Teenagers can post mean comments or pictures, or even devote a whole blog to making fun of one person. Make sure that your child understands that this sort of thing is hurtful and can cause real damage to others.
Make sure your child understands that these blogs are not private and are visible to anybody online. Check that your child does not post any personal contact information or details of her activities on her blog.