Blogs are a versatile way to connect with those who have similar interests, to express your feelings and even to market a product or service. This type of social networking appeals to a wide variety of users: virtually anyone can blog about anything. Teens especially seem to find solace in the self expression that comes with blogging.
What started as a way to keep an online journal has become a network of the Internet’s most popular sources of information. Many blogs focus on specific topics, such as celebrity gossip, fashion and so forth. Most of these websites are a great source of entertainment and support, and often provide helpful tips. However, as with anything on the Internet, there are risks associated with blogs.
While it is definitely a great way to express yourself and share hobbies or opinions with other users, blogging is still a form of social media. You may not know exactly where your information is going, and that can lead to problems. Additionally, blogs can be used for cyberbullying, so precautions need to be taken. Whether you’re the blogger or the reader, make sure you are aware of the digital footprint you leave behind.
Blogs tend to be more interactive than websites. They often have commenting features that allow viewers and bloggers to communicate on posts. These sections are often places where cyberbullying can occur — and, unfortunately, go unreported. Most blogging websites, including Tumblr, allow users to create “handles” (usernames) rather than displaying their full name. This contributes to the anonymity that creates an atmosphere conducive to cyberbullying.
The blogger can also put themselves at risk unknowingly. Using photos or posting videos that are taken in your home or around your neighborhood could be just enough information for someone to do real harm. According to FocusOnTheFamily.com, search engines also keep track of every word typed on a blog and archive these posts. Make sure to research exactly how blogs are set up, how they archive information and how to set privacy settings.
If you are a parents of a teen who’s blogging, you should be able to access the account and screen posts for content about mental illness, cyberbullying or anything dangerous. Schools can help parents protect their children while they’re away from home by creating digital boundaries, drafting strong acceptable use policies and using software that monitors online activity for signs that a student might be a danger to themselves or others. Blogs can be fun and helpful, but they should be protected and monitored.
By Laura Jane Crocker