Teach Your Child to Be An Internet-Savvy Kid Blogger
With tips from teacher-leader, social-media ninja and awesome dad Royan Lee
Creative kids on the lookout for new ways to express themselves might enjoy starting a blog to preserve memories and exercise their writing chops.
“I let my own children blog for two main reasons. The first is essentially to keep a scrapbook of their life in a more public environment, and the second is for them to practice positive digital citizenship from a young, impressionable, habit-forming age,” says Royan.
Here’s how you can help your kid add their two cents to the interwebs while steering clear of unsavoury content and keeping to the awesome stuff.
START WITH A KID-USER-FRIENDLY PLATFORM
Eliminate frustration and maximize awesome creation with an easy-to-use (and free) site. “I would say the most kid-friendly for use would be Tumblr, but some of the content they run into there could be more problematic and R-rated. Posterous would be a good, ‘cleaner’ version of Tumblr,” says Royan. “I have my children on Blogger because it means I don’t need to sign them up for multiple services. You can log in with one Gmail account and gain access to the whole suite of Google apps.”
COME UP WITH A THEME
Developing a content strategy will give your kid a bit more focus. It could be as simple and open-ended as “my life.” ‘”A good question to start with is, ‘What do you want to remember?’. If it’s worth remembering, it’s worth blogging about,” says Royan. Maybe your kid fell in love with rollerblading last summer — have them record all their tricks and favourite routes. Maybe they’d like to review the smoothie selection in your town, or offer their readers a street-art tour of their neighborhood. As long as they’re stoked about it, those posts will be popping all the time.
KEEP IT FUN
Remove the pressure to write lengthy, brain-busting posts. This is their creative space, not homework. “Remind your kids that blogging is not work in the sense that an essay assignment is work. A blog post could just be a quick photograph you’ve taken,” says Royan. Better yet, a DIY photogram.
TURN FAMILY FUN INTO BLOG CONTENT
Your kid’s blog can be like a digital scrapbook where they record and reflect on experiences. Snap some pics or videos the next time you and your family do something awesome. (We’ve got some handy memory-keeping apps to help with that). “Some of my family’s favourites include posting artwork, making funny ‘viral’ videos and writing about fun times in everyday life,” says Royan.
Recording those experiences lets your kid share his or her point of view with family, pals, and random surfers who can also offer their feedback. Ta-da! Instant online community. “The whole key to getting your kids engaged in blogging is to support them with a network of friends, family and even strangers that read and comment on their posts. Blogging is about publishing: when we publish, we want people to read it,” says Lee.
Your kid has to feel like they can be honest on their blog in order for it to have a unique voice. Encourage them to engage with other web content and voice their opinions about it. This will help them think critically about what’s going on on the interwebs. “I want my own kids to be literate and engaged with modern communication and creation tools. I want them to be contributors on the web, not just consumers of content,” says Royan. Try re-blogging content with added explanations of why it resonated, or post reviews of games, toys, books, or apps.
CHECK OUT SOME OTHER KID BLOGGERS’ WORK
Royan recommends some sites managed by his eldest daughter and her friends: Yo Yo Yumi and her best pal Mucho Misha use their blogs to show off their cartoon style drawings, family interviews and videos of interest. Petals For Fred is where a nine-year-old Australian showcases her poetry, and J2lcomics is an eleven-year-old kid cartoonist’s platform for sharing his life in comics, with fresh strips daily!
For some more of Royan’s thoughts on kids navigating the internet, check out the highlights from our Social Media Week panel he participated in along with parenting / tech experts Alyson Schafer and Brad Moon. Our audience had some insightful feedback, too. Here are the top tweets from The Social Family Goes Mobile.
And don’t forget to send us the link to your kid’s new blog!