It cannot be argued that the children of today are extremely technologically savvy. They are given smartphones, tablets, laptops, handheld gaming devices, you name it. They know how to download, upload, video chat, and more. They are constantly connected to the world via e-mail, texting, and instant-messaging. Things a child of the 80s could not even dream up. Parents are divided on whether all of the technology is helpful versus harmful. I am a parent who believes it is helpful if used in an educational manner. Some positive ways in which children and tweens can utilize technology are through educational applications, schools providing them with tablets or laptops to complete classwork or homework assignments and projects, and introducing them to blogging.
Both my tweens approached me and asked if they could create a blog. I, myself, blog daily, therefore, I couldn’t tell them “no”. I asked them to be patient while I searched the internet to determine a “safe” and “easy” blogging format that they could utilize. Once I searched around for accurate information and compared it to my own personal blogging experiences; we were ready to begin our family blogging project.
Tip One: Deciding a “safe” blogging platform. I found this step the most difficult. Today, anyone can hack into any network at any time. Granted some are safer than others, it would be a good idea to visit Scholastic’s resource Keeping Kids Safe Online first. During my search I found and chose Posterous Spaces as the platform to use. This was a personal preference; there are many blogging sites that are just as manageable. Posterous, has a simple platform that is family friendly. My tweens, ages 11 and 9 caught on quickly.
Tip Two: Select a username, password, site name, identity, and background with your child. Do not allow them to do any of these steps on their own. Do not allow them to use their name. Teach them what a pen name entails. My daughter was delighted to pick a creative name. Remind them that they are not allowed to change anything on their site for safety reasons and that you need to be able to gain access at all times.
Tip Three: Be sure to disable geotagging. Geotagging allows anyone on the web to locate you. You can find the options for geotagging in the settings area on the blog’s home page. If you cannot find geotagging there is generally an option, for location. Inform your children to always to choose no when the program asks, “Would you like to use your location?” Other settings to be aware of are comment, email, and follow. You can choose the preferences for this option as you see fit.
Step Four: Ready to Blog. Parents remember this is an activity where you must remain involved at all times. Be sure you “proofread” their content prior to publishing. Encourage them to write freely. Remind them never to use identifying information such as their name, location, or their school’s or friend’s name.
I truly think this project is a bonding experience. Your tween will learn how to express themselves through writing while practicing composition, brainstorming, spelling, grammar, and creative thinking. Think of it as an “online journal” I was impressed with the creative ability that both of my children have.
Keeping Kids Safe Online