When Your Child Wants to Become A Blogger

Feb 13, 2017

Whether it’s a special interest, a desire publish her own words, or community-building, your child has expressed interest in starting a blog.

If you’ve never blogged yourself, it can be overwhelming to guide your child, or even making sure they are staying safe while blogging online. Consider this a primer, in which we’ll give you a crash course in blogging platforms and what you need to know.



Benefits of blogging

There are a lot of reasons to encourage and support your child, should they decide to start a blog of her own. Blogging can improve a child’s writing and communication skills, as well as give them a greater understanding of the inner-workings of the Internet and basic computer coding. It’s up to you to decide whether the benefits outweigh possible risks for your child.

Blogging Risks

Once your child puts information on the Internet, it’s there forever. And if your child accidentally posts identifying information, they may be at risk of having that information used against them, whether it be in the form of identity theft or opening them up to being approached by a predator. Copyright infringement is a concern even adult bloggers deal with; I know of one case in which a single photo ended up costing a blogger thousands of dollars because she did not have permission to use the photo. As legal guardian, you need to be aware of this because you would be responsible for this, should your child use a photo without permission and be sued.

You don’t want your child using identifying photos on his blog, so you’ll be happy to learn that there are plenty of sites that allow creatives to use their images for free, and often without attribution.

Protecting identity

Now that your child is starting his own blog, you need to decide what information they will be sharing in this public space and whether or not the blog will be enabled for public viewing. If you decide to allow your child to blog publicly, do not allow them to post their full name (I would suggest they blog under a pseudonym or nickname), their school name, or any identifying photographs.

If public blogging concerns you, look for a platform that features password protection, so only close friends and family have access to the content.

Blogger

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A free blogging platform by Google, Blogger is one of the easiest platforms to master (and actually the one I started with). Subject to Google’s terms of service, your child must be 13 years or older and have a Google Mail account to launch a blog on Blogger; there is a setting available to make Blogger blogs private.

I will add that using this platform means that Google has rights to the content produced – I learned this the hard way when my blog disappeared for 24 hours. When I finally tracked down a phone number for Google, they had absolutely no record of my blog having existed (which was scary, since I’d been blogging for a year-and-a-half at that point). Once my blog was reinstated, I grabbed all of my content and hightailed it to WordPress.

WordPress

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There are two versions of WordPress to choose from: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a free platform, hosted through WordPress, with restrictions on what one can and can not do on the platform (bypass this version if your child has any intentions of monetizing her blog). WordPress.org offers free templates to choose from, but you must pay for your own hosting costs; the caveat is that your child’s content is her own, and not subject to the whim of another entity.

WordPress users must be 13 years or older, and the site features the option for password protected private blogs.

Tumblr

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Tumblr is a microblogging site, a cross between Twitter (with its constant feed) and a blog, where users tend to publish shorter pieces than traditional blogs. A more visual and social platform, parents want to take note if their child is asking to blog on Tumblr.

Tumblr does offer password protection to blog privately, but you would be wise to steer your child away from this site because it is rife with mature content. Tumblr is not where you want your child blogging, despite the minimum user age of 13.

Weebly

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Like Blogger, Weebly is an intuitive blogging platform especially easy for beginners to master. The basic plan is free, and hosts an ad at the bottom of the page, but after one year users must pay a fee for their domain.

Another platform with a minimum age of 13 years, Weebly also offers password protection, but with so many other options available this would not be my first choice.

Medium

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Created by the founders of Twitter, Medium is what I would call a more refined blogging platform -- this is where people go to share their thoughts on everything from current events to major life experiences.

With a minimum age of 13 years, and an “Unlisted Story” feature (only those with the URL can view the post), I would recommend this platform only for older teens. Again, the emphasis of this platform is on words, not images, and a strong emphasis of sharing in-depth thoughts and opinions.

Ghost

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Ghost is yet another intuitive blogging platform, boasting simplicity for even the most non-technical of people. With a monthly subscription fee, this is probably not the best platform for beginners who aren’t sure if they’re going to stick with it.

The minimum age for accounts is 13 years, and Ghost offers the ability to set the blog to private (although the instructions to do so seemed a bit complicated).

LiveJournal

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As the name infers, LiveJournal is a platform that allows users to journal or keep a diary online. I especially like the privacy settings, with users able to select specific people on their friend's list to share with, or completely set their journal to private, much like the lock on a diary.

With a basic free package and a minimum user age of 13 years, I would recommend LiveJournal for those children who simply wish to record musings and share with a select group of close friends and family.

Monitoring Your Child
Whether or not your child is blogging publicly, you still want to periodically check in with them and review their blog to be aware of their activity. Treat your child’s blog as you would with any type of social media and keep the lines of communication open.