Does your child blog, and if so, do you know what he or she posts to that blog? It could be that what they post for all the world to see may come back to haunt them.
It could be that they posted about what a wonderful time they had at a school friend’s party. Or they could be posting about what they really did at that party that they wouldn’t want you to know about.
I’ve spoken before about how much teens enjoy using the Web to express themselves. Places like MySpace, Xanga, and Facebook, give them ample opportunity to share their thoughts with other like-minded teens (or people pretending to be teens!). Doing so gives them a sense of belonging to a larger community, making them feel like they’re not alone. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, and something I think we all can relate to.
But if there’s reckless disregard for what they’re sharing with others, that’s when it can either become difficult to deal with in later years, or perhaps dangerous even sooner.
The results of a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey tells us that approximately 79 percent of teens agree that teens their age sometimes don’t use good jugdement in what they post. Even the teens themselves admit this!
Other reports involve employers finding out about what an employee has posted about their company to their MySpace account. And of course, the ever-popular cyberbully can leave emotional scars on someone that could last a lifetime by spreading false rumors and such. From my personal experience I know that the assistant principal at my child’s school has approached some students warning them that what they were posting to their MySpace account was inappropriate.
It’s not that these blogging communities are bad or that blogging in general is bad, but that they must be used wisely. It’s not about freedom of speech, but the responsibility that comes with it.
Summary and Tips
So what can you, as a parent, do?
- Get involved with your kid’s online activities. I can’t say this often enough!
- Ask to see their blog. You need to determine if what they’re posting is appropriate and safe. Sure, this isn’t going to be easy and they’ll possibly cry foul, but you’re doing it for their protection. Besides, you’re the parent.
- If they don’t already, ask them to use password-protection for viewers to see their entries. This way, only the people he or she sends the password to can read their comments. Make sure you get their password too.
- Explain to your kid that writing without responsibility is just asking for trouble down the road. It could be that what they post could be used against them particularly if it’s something they didn’t intend to share with everyone.