The Ups and Downs of Teen Blogging
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What's up with blogging these days? Everywhere you turn on the Internet there seem to be blogs. There are blogs for businesses, blogs for relationships, personal blogs, public-relations blogs, parenting blogs, and the list goes on. Blogging is one way to get noticed, whether you're a professional, a celebrity wanna-be, teenager seeking an identity, person looking to share their life experiences, or someone seeking to spread their cynicism and feelings and perceptions of negativity in the world. So what are some of the pros and cons about this emerging mode of communication, and why should you, as a parent, feel concerned about blogging?
Blogs can serve as a great avenue for helping an individual to enhance their writing ability. Many kids do not like to write if it has anything to do with school. However, they may have a totally different attitude if they are writing something that may be seen by peers. While blogging may be a means for kids to get attention, there is a secondary gain in terms of practice with their writing skills. Blogs, on the other hand, can also be used as a tool to avoid face-to-face communication. The more that we rely on communicating through computers, the more we risk decreasing our ability to interact with others directly in relationships. There is an art to communication, not just through the written word but also verbally. It is often easier to say what we mean and write it than to speak it, but we also can say things that we don't mean and hide behind our writing or hide behind a pen name. Encourage your kids to write, but also encourage them to talk to you. Take the time to sit down with them and talk with them. If they have a hard time talking, ask to look through their blogs and talk about what they are writing.
- Exploring Independence
Teens and kids react against controls, and blogging may be a way to assert their independence in a more socially acceptable manner. Some sources, including the New York Times see indications that teens are seeking places on the internet with fewer rules. No matter what you do, some kids will rebel. It is part of their nature, but still many other kids rebel to avoid feeling controlled. Realize that you can contribute to this environment of control or help change the way they view themselves and society. Become a better guide to your kids and less of their boss. Give your kids some space to express themselves, and let them know that you would like to be able to take a look at what they write. Provide more problem-solving skills to them and help them to see that sometimes having somebody help us understand the impact of our choices can help us make better choices throughout life. If all you ever do is tell your child what they can't do, they will never learn what they can do and/or find acceptable ways to do it.
- Collaborative Learning
By approaching blogging with a proactive viewpoint, you can use blogging to help your kids learn about life. Check out the various types of blogs whether they are business-related, informational or personal with your kids. Read them together and talk about their content, their perceived value, and how responsible the people contributing to the blog behaved. Know that you can’t always be there to manage your kids choices, so prepare them with knowledge before the fact so they can make educated choices. Help them to understand the ins and outs of productive communication. If you do blogging yourself, allow your child to take a look at what you write. That may help you make better decisions in what you put out there. If you are putting it out on the Internet for others to see, it can be a model for them. Be willing to live by the same rules you ask your kids to live by.
This whole concept of internet blogging is still in its infancy, and it is not likely to go away. Be proactive and educated. Yes, it is one more thing to learn about, but parenting is a journey of learning and growth. Try not to live in fear of everything and prevent your kids from living life. Live it with them and talk with them. Get to know their interests and attitudes, and help guide them toward a life of truth, honor, and integrity.