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Setting Guidelines for your Childs Blog

As I discussed in my last post, a “blog” is an internet based diary, often kept by teenagers or preteens. This internet medium allows them to share their thoughts, ideas, and daily activities with an internet community. They can exchange comments, and view the websites of their real life friends and internet acquaintances. This information exchange can be beneficial for your teenager, but it also comes with a certain amount of risk to the privacy and safety of your family and your child.

Setting guidelines for your child’s blog is especially important to ensure that private issues stay private. It is also key to keeping your child safe from stalkers, internet predators, or hostile schoolmates. In a perfect world, you could control everything that your child posted on the internet. However, in reality, you may have to settle for teaching your teenager reasonable guidelines for their blog, and disabling their account if rules are broken.

Blogs are usually free, and are hosted on a variety of sites. If you look through your browser’s history and see any of the following sites, your child most likely has a blog.

www.blogger.com
www.typepad.com
www.wordpress.com
www.wordpress.org
www.livejournal.com

This is not in and of itself a bad thing, it just means that you’ll have to set up guidelines for its use.

For example, you may make a rule that no names are to be used on your child’s blog. This will protect the privacy of family members, and avoid you having to explain at work on Monday why your child called you names over the internet last weekend.

It is also wise to insist that your child provide you with a list of his user names and passwords to all sites. This allows you to keep tabs on what he is posting, as well as providing you with the means to disable his account if necessary.

In general, personal photos, names, addresses, towns, phone numbers, and any other type of detailed information should not be posted on your teenager’s blog. Tiny bits of personal information posted over time can gradually form a complete profile, allowing internet predators to find your child. Instead, insist that your child use a screen name instead of their real name, and that they never use the names of friends or family members.

Most blogs have options allowing them to be set to private. If you are concerned about your teenager’s ability to censor themselves, allow them to maintain a blog as long as it is set to private, and as long as you are aware of everyone that they give the private password to. This is a good way to allow them to have a blog on a trial basis, while they prove to you that they can do so responsibly.

If your child consistently breaks your household rules regarding the blog, or internet safety in general, explain to them that their blog will be deleted. This is a simple, one step procedure, and cannot be undone. Your teenager will understand what a big deal this is, and most likely will not want to lose the website that they have spent hours building. Use this threat as a last ditch effort if they insist on breaking your blogging rule.

Have a great day!

Lawrence

What is a Blog?

The word “blog” is a relatively new one, and as a parent, Webster may not be able to come to your rescue this time. The term is a contraction of the words “web log”, and these easy to set up websites are popular with parents, businesses, and teens alike. Blogs are revolutionizing the internet, and along the way creating another privacy concern for parents.

A blog is traditionally a diary – an online page where your son or daughter may be sharing their deepest thoughts, wishes, and fears with their online community. Most people who use their blogs for personal insight (such as your teenager) post day to day events, family pictures, and generally keep the world updated on what they do each day or week. They then link to other blogs on topics that interest them, and build traffic among other bloggers.

While a blog can be a terrific creative outlet for a teenager, if used appropriately, it can also be an extremely dangerous source of information to a predator, stalker, or even another teen with a grudge against your son or daughter. A simple post about winning the evening’s basketball game, for example, with a picture of your teen in their jersey could give away a lot of information – Your child’s school, their evening schedule (games and practices), what they look like, and the town that they live in. Combined with other information that your teen may have casually posted in a profile or “About Me” section, there may be more information available about them online than you’d like.

Another issue with blogs is that their content is often emotionally charged. Imagine knowing that the details of your latest fight with your ex-spouse are being posted across the internet, from your teenager’s point of view? Or that your teen is sharing details about their sexual activity on the internet, but not with you? Blogs, like any other internet medium, should be carefully monitored to ensure that private information remains private.

You will need to find a time to sit down with your teenager and set clear guidelines for internet usage, including blogging. Establish clear rules for internet use, and be sure that your child provides you with all user names and passwords for his or her blog. Monitor the history files on your computer carefully, and be sure to keep an idea of where your child may be going online.

Blogging is not necessarily a harmful pastime, but there is great potential for loss of privacy. By setting and following a few key guidelines, you can help ensure that your family’s private issues remain private, and that your child’s identity and location are secure. Be a proactive parent, and stop internet dangers before they begin.

Have a great day!

Lawrence