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Don’t try this at home

February 24th, 2005 · 6 Comments

Update 2/26/05: I’ve been informed through a comment and private email from Preetam Rai that the incident below was a joke and did not occur at the Northern Voice Conference. However, I will still leave this post, since I think that my point should be made. Some parents would try the idea below.

Also please see the comments for other intriguing questions and aspects of this issue.

end of update

From a post titled Blogging and the family: Northern Voice Blogging Conference by preetam rai:

One attendee in one of our “Introduction to Blog” session suspected that her teenage daughter had a anon. blog. She was wondering if there was a way she could find the blog. We suggested that she surprise the daughter with a gift. Later in the night she could locate the daughter’s blog by running a web search with keywords like “Wow!! my mother bought me a gift”.

I wasn’t present in the Introduction to Blogging session and I was upset after reading this post corrective note – this did not occur at the conference. If the teenage daughter does indeed have a blog, she may have reasons why she doesn’t want to disclose this to her mother. Perhaps she doesn’t trust her parents with the sides of herself she is sharing online. Giving the daughter a gift, a bizarre sort of bribe, to use as a tool to discover her secret identity will only break whatever trust is left in the relationship. Especially now that this snippet of the session has been published (what if the daughter is reading Northern Voice posts to discover what her parents are doing?!) From my limited perspective, the best thing the parents can do in this situation is try to build trust with their daughter: trust, I believe, is what blogging (and life!) is about and trust is what allows secrets to be shared.

Please don’t try this at home.

Tags: northernvoice

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Preetam Rai // Feb 24, 2005 at 6:17 pm

    Oh.. that was a joke. We never really intended the mom to find the blog.

  • 2 pts // Feb 24, 2005 at 9:24 pm

    Hi — I’ve been reading this weblog on and off for a while; yours is an interesting perspective, as you approach the idea of blogging and internet identity as a wife and mother. I notice you generally avoid posting pictures of your daughters’ faces and so on, which makes a great deal of sense to me. Obviously, you’re sensitive to putting their identities online; I would be, too. I wonder, though, at what age would/will you allow your children onto the net? When you do, will you trust them to to be responsible? (I ask not to challenge, but to think about it myself. These sorts of decisions terrify me, and I won’t be a parent for many years yet.)

    It’s part of a larger question of trust and responsibility, I suppose — deciding (or allowing your children to decide) at what age to allow what freedoms. It all seems incredibly difficult to me, honestly.

  • 3 Arjun Singh // Feb 25, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    Hello Julie,

    A couple of thought here:

    1) People, even teenagers, should have a right to their privacy. Even if there is trust present in a relationship, sometimes people want and need a space that is private, anonymously written or unknown to their families.

    2) Having said that, even an anonymous blog can be found out through people searching innocently. The best thing to do perhaps would be to password protect the blog.

    3) As we got into a little on our blogging types and styles panel, trust and blogs is an interesting issue. If it is done as performance art, is a nontrustworthy blog a bad thing? I am still thinking about that one.

  • 4 Betsy Devine // Feb 26, 2005 at 7:13 am

    Hi Julie–I’m glad to hear that advice was meant as a joke. Like you, I was unhappy with it.

    On the other hand, I just read a post from Akma that sounded brilliant to me: http://akma.disseminary.org/archives/2005/02/one_victory.html

    So I’m asking myself, why do I think Akma’s trick to get his children to pick up good books is a fine idea, even though it is, in a way, somewhat deceptive? Is it just because I like Akma? What do you think?

  • 5 paul // Feb 26, 2005 at 10:25 am

    On another site where I contribute, we had some conversation about the notion of family trust. The issue underlying all of this is the relationship you build with your kids.

    If a parent feels they have to listen in on phone calls or read their kid’s journal or are worried they’ll a. get pregnant and b. want to abort the pregnancy without even letting them know what’s happening, it doesn’t say much for the atmosphere in the family.

    And there’s always the other extreme: the horrific car crash on Bainbridge where some kids were out socializing at midnight offers a look at another style of parenting. Is there any reason why those kids — under 16 as some of them were — should be out on the roads, on foot or otherwise, at that hour?

    Tangential to this is the case in Florida where parents and school officials are trying to ban Lois Lowry books, based on the characters occasionally negative thoughts about adults. Well, what normal teenager *doesn’t* have occasionally negative thoughts about adults? To their credit, some of the adults have read the books, but not with any faith in their child’s ability to make good choices.

    Sorry for the rambling, but I just despair sometimes when I think of the families I see where some parents are so worried about being their kids’ friend, they neglect their responsibilities as parents, and others where the kids are given no freedom at all.

  • 6 Ivan Chew // Mar 22, 2005 at 6:56 am

    Interesting perspective. Actually I thought the comment that Preetam made was less about the intrusion of privacy but more about search engines and indexing, i.e. how search engines pick up blog posts.

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