So your child wants a blog

So many parents have asked me about children’s blogging recently – looks like that kid with the school dinner blog has really sparked something in thechild blogger junior collective imagination.

The great thing about blogging for kids is they can quickly create something that looks impressive and have fun in the process. It’s great for literacy, IT skills and imagination. As long as you the parent keep an eye on it and don’t let your child run hog wild over the internet, it can be a fab, fun hobby.

My daughter started blogging two years ago, when she was 10. Now that she’s all of 12, we have our blog, Eljae, that we write together. I also run the KidsBlogClub which anyone interested in children’s blogging should definitely check out.

So what if your child wants to join the crew?


Where to start if your child wants to write a blog

Before you crank up the laptop, sit down and talk to your child about basic online safety.

  • Don’t post your full name. Unless their first name is quite a common one, it might be better for your child to adopt a blogging pseudonym. Essentially you need to protect them from the future employers, friends and enemies who are guaranteed to one day Google their name.
  • No identifying characteristics – ie don’t post any details about where you live or go to school. No pictures with school uniforms/logos.
  • No identifying anybody else – it might be tempting for a child to use their blog to rant about the bully they hate, but you have to caution them against this.
  • Never ever contact or respond to anyone directly who tries to contact you via the blog. This, I think is the scary part for most parents. Is some crazy weirdo going to swoop down out of the internet and scoop up my child? Unlikely, but no harm in guarding against it. But don’t let paranoia about who’s out there suck the fun out of your blogging. Be cautious, not fearful.


Should you be worried about who’s reading your child’s blog?

Think about how open you want the blog to be. All blog hosts have options, ranging from completely private (ie only people you give the link & password to can read it) to public (ie listed in Google, open for anybody to see).

You might think that the most private option makes most sense for a child’s blog, but not necessarily. My daughter’s first blog wasn’t listed on search engines, so it didn’t get a lot of hits or comments. And children love that kind of instant feedback and interaction. So for Eljae we keep it public and enjoy seeing the hits and comments come in from all over the world.

Whilst it’s commonplace for adult blogs to have related Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, I don’t think this is necessary or particularly desirable for a child’s blog. Instead I use my Twitter and Facebook pages if I want to promote any Eljae posts.


The rules of the game for children’s blogging

Decide what the ground rules are going to be for your child’s blog – do you want to see every post before they publish it?

Moderating comments is a very good idea – we find that WordPress is good at picking up spam comments, but there has been the odd unpleasantness which has crept through.

From there, it’s a question of pointing your child at Blogger or WordPress and letting them start their blogadventure. You will need an email address to register an account so decide if you want to use your own or your child’s or a gmail address that’s just for the blog.

Keep a distant eye on what they’re doing, but don’t micro-manage. Let them make mistakes. Show them the basics of how to write a post, embed Youtube videos and add links, but apart from that, stand back and let your child get on with it. If you don’t know how to do that stuff, Google it and find out together.

Talk to your child about copyright – you can’t just pinch an image because you’ve seen it on the internet. Show them where to get copyright free images. This has the knock on effect of forcing your child to be more creative and come up with their own original visuals. Pic Monkey is a very good site for playing around with images, and it’s easy as cheese to use – my daughter and I both like it a lot.

Ultimately I think blogging will be a short-lived craze for many children. Only a few will stick at it, and if that happens you may be facing the ultimate parent blogger horror story – what happens if your child’s blog is more popular than yours?

After this, I reckon the next wave will be children blogging anonymously about their parents. Blimey. We don’t want that. Keep your friends close and your bloggers closer, that’s what I say.