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Minimum age for blogging?

June 20th, 2004 · 3 Comments

Earlier this week in his link blog Robert Scoble included the BBC article The seven-year-old-bloggers. The piece described how one British school is utilizing weblogs for young children and finding them to be beneficial. The article ended with a quote from the teacher:

“Ideally, I’d like to see every child with a weblog of their own.”

The next day, Scoble linked to Darren Foong, Linux-loving high school student.

Friday night, three days later, Scoble wrote that Darren Foong wanted links to his blog removed. I would read and write more about Darren Foong’s posts except that his blog has disappeared. When I followed Scoble’s link yesterday morning, I read a post, but last night it was gone. Scoble in his second post referred to Darren Foong as a 12-year-old. (I’m not sure how he changed from high school to 12; I imagine there must have been some confusion).

As a mother, after reading these three postings, I’m feeling concerned. I find myself wondering: should there be a minimum age for blogging? Perhaps that is a bit extreme. Darren Foong is only one child. One example.

Scoble in his last post on Foong wrote

It’s a good lesson for kids to learn, though. What you say on the Internet stays permanently on the Internet for all to see and read (and search for).

Should every seven-year-old have a blog? Every twelve-year-old? I’m not sure how, where or whether to draw the line. I’ve always had some concerns regarding what information children should share on the Internet. For example, if a seven year old girl started chronicling how she walks to the bus stop by herself each morning or how her parents leave her alone at home at night, I think that would be dangerous. Even revealing information about likes and dislikes could be an invitation to interested stalkers. Someone with judgment and discretion should supervise younger bloggers to ensure their safety.

After seeing a tech-savvy adolescent’s reaction to receiving publicity and links, I now wonder whether children have the maturity for blogging. While I believe in having as much freedom as possible in society, I also believe that, if possible, children should be spared and protected from having to learn lessons the hard way.

Permanence is powerful. Yet children constantly change. Many may not be able to understand the implications of writing and sharing on the Internet where there is no eraser. I’m not sure I do myself. Or many kids may not be emotionally prepared to handle the criticism and other aspects of public communication.

Perhaps the burden should be on adults to interact with children differently from older bloggers. Then again I don’t know how children could be identified in a blog, or that there wouldn’t be an adult somewhere somehow who would take advantage of a child blogger.

Despite my passion for posting, I’m beginning to believe that blogging is not something every child – or any child- should do…at least not alone or in public.

Tags: blog

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