10 Tips for Parents of Teen Bloggers

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Bloggers are all sizes, shapes, backgrounds, races and ages these days. And if your teen is interested in blogging, it can be a wonderful way to build their writing, comprehension and reading skills – all outside of the classroom!

But, there are lots of things to consider when anyone, especially a minor, wants to begin blogging. Keep reading to learn how you can help your teen blog safely, while nurturing their creativity. To find more screen time insights, visit the Zift Parent Portal for blogs, videos and guides to keep your family safe and informed online.

Benefits of Blogging for Teens

There are a lot of reasons to encourage and support your teen, should they decide to start a blog of their own. Blogging for teens can improve their writing and communication skills, as well as give them a greater understanding of the inner-workings of the internet and basic computer coding. But remember, it’s up to you to decide whether the benefits of your teen having a blog outweigh any possible risks.

Important Questions to Ask Before Letting Your Teen Blog

First and foremost, determine what your teen wants to blog about. Below are a few questions you should consider – these are the basics that any blogger should be able to answer.

  • Will it be a traditional blog with mostly text?
  • Will it be a mixture of writing and photos?
  • Will they want to vlog (video blog)?
  • What topic(s) do they want to explore?

10 Tips for Parents of Teen Bloggers

Now that the basics of your teen’s blog are hashed out, you can dive into what you really need to know in order to keep them safe. Use these 10 tips as a guide for keeping your teen blogger safe online.

  1. Do your homework.
    If you’re not familiar with the topic your teen wants to blog about, then it’s time to study! The more immersed you are in their topic of choice, the easier it will be for you to spot any red flags before they become an issue.
     
  2. Add it to the contract.
    If you aren’t using a social media contract already, this is the perfect time to institute one. Managing your teen’s screen time allotment is important, whether it’s for school, a hobby or personal use. That goes for time spent in front of a computer blogging, too, and instituting a vlogging contract is wise too.
     
  3. Know the audience.
    Privacy might seem counterproductive to the average blogger especially those who want to be discovered and start raking in thousands of dollars in endorsements. But for your teenager, your goal should be the opposite. Keep their blog private, password-protected and only viewable by family and close friends.
     
  4. Understand the motivation.
    Why does your teen want to blog? Is it because they are passionate about a subject or they want to enhance their writing skills? Are they doing this for extra credit or to impress college admissions boards?

    Whatever the reason, make sure it’s sound and coming from a place of genuine interest. What you don’t want is a blog about gossip, personal information or something scandalous.
     
  5. Explain the limitations.
    Discuss – in advance – what is appropriate to be shared in their blog and what should be kept private. Even if the blog is set to private, make it well-known that NOTHING on the internet is ever completely secure. Explain what steps they should take to stay safe online and what they should do if something inappropriate happens.
     
  6. It’s a two-way street.
    Communication is crucial. If your teenager does come into contact with a sketchy person, an inappropriate comment or something else that makes them feel uncomfortable, let them know they can talk to you about it. You’ve shared your concerns about them blogging, now keep the door open for them to chat with you too.
     
  7. Keep them grounded.
    It’s a strange time we live in. There are people making six figures off pictures on Instagram and potential bloggers, vloggers and internet personalities around every corner. Make sure your child knows that fame is not as fun as it looks.

    Teach them that Instagram shots can be faked, edited and photoshopped. Encourage them to be their authentic selves and celebrate other blogs & bloggers that do the same.
     
  8. Let the encouragement flow.
    It’s hard to write something and expose it to the world. Even if your teen’s blog audience is only family members, a few words of encouragement can go a long way in stoking their passion for writing. Constructive criticism can be shared too, but make sure not to burst their bubble. Remember, your teen is blogging because they want a creative outlet.
     
  9. Understand blogging etiquette.
    This is the least fun part of blogging, but also one of the most important. Teach your teenager that plagiarism, accreditation, intellectual property and copyright infringement are real things.

    If they quote someone, give them credit. If they want to repost something from another blogger, get permission. While this may not be fun, this will teach them about ethics and responsibility.
     
  10. Read it.
    This is an obvious one, but often overlooked. Be diligent about reading your teenager’s blog, whether they post one every week or every month. They are writing it for a reason, remember?
     
    At the very least, it will give you an insight into the mind of the wonderful writer you are raising. You can also keep a keen eye for any troubles that might pop up along the way, like bullying, depression or low self-esteem.

How to Find the Best Blog Sites for Teens

If public blogging concerns you, look for a blog site that features password protection, so only close friends and family have access to the content. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most popular and best blog sites for teens that are available.

Blogger

A free blogging platform by Google, Blogger is one of the easiest platforms to master. According to Google’s terms of service, users must be 13 years or older and have a Gmail account to set up a blog using this platform. Parents will be happy to know that there is a setting available to make Blogger blogs private.

Wordpress

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 cannot do on the platform. WordPress.org offers free templates to choose from, but you must pay for your own hosting costs. WordPress users must be 13 years or older and the site features the option for password protected private blogs.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging site, a cross between Twitter (with its constant feed) and a blog, where users are able to publish shorter, more visual pieces than traditional blogs. Tumblr does offer password protection to blog privately, but this site is also rife with mature content, so we wouldn't recommend this platform for kids or teens.

Weebly

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.

Medium

Created by the founders of Twitter, Medium is a more refined blogging platform as this is where experienced 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), this platform is best 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 expert opinions.

Ghost

Ghost is 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 can be complicated.

LiveJournal

As the name infers, LiveJournal is a platform that allows users to journal or keep a diary online. This platform has robust privacy settings, with users able to select specific people on their friends 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, LiveJournal is a good choice for those users who simply wish to record musings and share with a select group of close friends and family.

Safe Blogging Tips for Teens

Whether it’s a special interest, a desire to publish their own words, or community-building, your teen has expressed interest in starting a blog. And if you’ve never blogged yourself, it can be overwhelming to guide them or even make sure they are staying safe while blogging online. Be aware of the potential hazards of blogging and keep these safe blogging tips in mind when coaching your teenager.

Online Predators

Once your teen puts information on the internet, it’s there forever. And if they accidentally post identifying information, they may be at risk of having that information used against them, whether it be in the form of identity theft or exposing them to an online predator.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is a concern even adult bloggers deal with. As a parent or legal guardian, you need to be aware of this because you would be responsible for this, should your teen use a photo or music without permission and be sued. Parents can also use this opportunity to talk about plagiarism and the importance of creating unique content.

Public vs. Private Blogs

Now that your teenager is starting their 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 them 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. Instead of posting personal photos, use stock images from one of the many sites that allow bloggers to use their images for free, and often without attribution.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kids & Blogging

  • Are they old enough to use the blogging sites?
    Most blogging sites, like WordPress or Blogger, require users to be at least 13 years of age in order to use their sites. Check the specific Terms of Service for each site before letting your teenager sign up.

  • Are they emotionally mature enough to handle comments & feedback?
    Depending on where your teen is planning to blog, there may be comments posted on their blog topics, and as we all know, not everyone online is always nice. To help avoid any digital drama, make sure the blog’s settings are private. This means that only readers who have permission can view your teen’s words.

  • Are they planning on vlogging or live streaming?
    Live streaming and vlogging have their own set of caveats, but it’s all the rage right now. Keep in mind that anything in view of your teen’s video is a way to gather information about who they are, what they like and where they live, so anonymity is key. For more information, read How to Keep Your Child Safe While Live Streaming.

Whether your teen’s blog is public or private, continue to periodically check in with them and review their blog to be aware of their activity. Treat their blog as you would with any type of social media and make sure to keep the lines of communication open. Install a parental control app to help you monitor their screen time and internet activity and use these tips as a guide to help your teen blog safely while nurturing their creative outlet.

About Jennifer Leonard

Jennifer Leonard is the Social Media Manager for Zift. She is passionate about connecting with people – in person and via social media. She spends her days writing, tweeting, pinning and using as many hashtags she possibly can. #Goals 

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