What Is a Blog?
A blog (the shortened and more common form of weblog) is a personal webpage where people can broadcast their thoughts, feelings, and opinions to everyone else on the web. A blog can be edited or added to at any time by the person who created it. Some blogs are focused commentaries on a particular subject, event, cause, or organization. Others read more like online journals or diaries, documenting travels, thoughts, opinions, and day-to-day happenings.
People who make blogs are referred to as "bloggers." Bloggers often include pictures or videos on their blogs to make them interesting and unique. Other Internet users can comment on written blog posts, pictures, or videos, but only the blog creator can post immediately visible content. The blog creator also has the ability to delete any comments made by others. Blog posts can be as long or short as the creator desires, however there are a number of microblogging sites that limit the length of posts.
Virtually anyone can make a blog. Many online blog services are completely free. Because blogging has become so accessible, the number of blogs on the web grows by leaps and bounds every day. This notion of ever-expanding worldwide communication and connection has caused the collective blogging community to be termed the blogosphere.
Blogs can be subscribed to via an RSS feed. When a blogger posts a new article to his or her blog, anyone who is subscribed to it receives the update without needing to visit the actual website. Google Reader is an example of one application that you can use to subscribe to blogs.
This screenshot shows the basic appearance and layout of a blog. The blog pictured was created at Blogger
Concerns for Parents
- If your child is creating a blog, anyone with Internet access can see what they have written. If your child is oversharing overly-personal or otherwise inappropriate content, your child could become a target for online predators, spam, cyberstalking, and identity theft.
- For older children and teens, blogs can become the perfect forum for cyberbullying.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Talk with your child about the wide readership a blog may have. Discuss safety guidelines your child will follow, such as never posting full names, email addresses, ages, or phone numbers on a blog. Decide if your child will be allowed to post pictures or videos. Once you have agreed upon a set of reasonable rules, be sure to keep tabs on your child by visiting his or her blog often.
- You may want to consider limiting your child to a "closed" or "whitelisted" blog. This means that you can grant a select group of Internet users access to your blog while keeping the blog's contents hidden from anyone else on the web.
- Be sure that your child is not saying unkind or derogatory things about others on a blog--even if it is only in joking. Doing so constitutes cyberbullying and can escalate into a serious issue.
Where Can I Learn More?
You can view the blog for the Internet Safety Project here.
This article is a set of blog safety guidelines geared towards adults. However, it brings up many of the same issues your children will face while blogging.
Microsoft.com offers 12 Safety Tips on blogging for parents and kids.
You can get specific tips about blog safety on blogsafety.com. Learn more about Blogsafety.com.