Thursday, July 12, 2007

Please Welcome A New Blogger

If you have a few extra minutes, please welcome a new blogger to the blogosphere. If you are inclined to comment on her blog, I think it would be great if you would include your location (city, state/province/region, country) in the comment. Please note that comments are moderated by her Dad, so they won't show up right away.

For the record, this was completely her idea, I had nothing to do with it. (Well, I did jump all over it when she said she wanted to start a blog . . .) It will be interesting to see how long she sticks with it.


  1. Karl - I've gone back and forth around blogging for my kids (12, 10, 7). I think there could be tremendous value, yet I worry about the online predator, spam, etc. stuff that can happen online.

    Curious that you feel it's a good thing. Is that generally accepted?

  2. Tony – we did think about this but, in the end, decided to go ahead. It’s something that definitely needs to be thought about, so here was our thought process.

    1. We liked the positive side of blogging for all the reasons I’ve talked about for our students (practicing writing, writing for a larger audience, reflection, connection to others around the world, personal learning networks, etc.)

    2. As you probably know, statistics overwhelmingly show that she is much more likely to be harmed by somebody close to her that she knows well than by a stranger. When you extend that to a virtual stranger, that probably decreases even more.

    3. We are moderating her comments. Should something inappropriate or worrisome come across, we’ll see it before she will and simply not publish it. Should she continue blogging long enough (or, more likely, stop and then start again sometime later), at some point we will let her moderate her own comments. Which leads to the next point.

    4. We feel this can be a learning experience for her. This will help her learn about the safety and ethical issues of being online. As I’ve talked about a lot on this blog, I think online is going to be a huge part of her world and she needs to learn how to safely and effectively navigate it. We’ve always fallen into the camp that believes in providing appropriate information to kids to help them learn about things, as opposed to the camp that believes more in “sheltering” them. (Not meaning that in a negative sense, just trying to describe it.)

    5. I actually think she is in more danger from my blog than from hers. I think it is much more likely that my family might be put in danger from something that happens on my blog than on hers. That’s not something I really thought about before I started blogging, simply because I didn’t anticipate the audience I would eventually have. But because of that darn little PowerPoint – and hopefully some decent content – the audience is there. While I think that chance is very, very small, what I write about can make people angry – so there is a chance. I wonder how many folks that are blogging have thought through that? Have you thought about that - your blog appears to be fairly wide-read?

    In the end, the calculus was remarkably similar to the thought process we went through before deciding to blog with our students at my school at the high school level. With high school kids, we had the obvious advantage that they were older and we could talk with them at a higher level about the issues. We also had the obvious disadvantage that they were older and therefore had more freedom, and also are at a stage in their life where they take more risks – sometimes inappropriate risks. So it came back to that basic decision between providing them with more information/experience and hoping they learn from it versus sheltering them.

    My daughter was born in 2000 – the 21st century is her century. In order to succeed and thrive in her century – personally and professionally – she’s going to have to learn how to live both online and off. We hope this very modest beginning is the start of her learning how to successfully navigate the online part.

  3. I like how you are monitoring her comments and likely how others are interacting with her. I'd not thought of that aspect.

    Is there an easy way to do that in Blogger? Where she can post, but you can control the comments?

    Also, doesn't this mean that she must have her own email?

  4. When I was her age I begged for a guitar and some lessons. Look at me now.

    You never know, she could be the next...well, you.


  5. Tony – Blogger has a fair level of control over things like that. You can setup comments to be wide open (anyone can comment and they automatically get posted to the blog). Or you can set them up where commenters have to be registered users of Blogger, or invited members of the blog only, but the comments still post automatically. Or you can have any of those levels with comments being moderated – they don’t post until someone approves them.

    You can also set the blog itself to be private, so that only invited members can even view the blog. I think that somewhat defeats the purpose of a blog, but might be a good way for some folks to start who are really concerned with the privacy/safety issues. Once the young writer gets comfortable blogging for an invited audience and perhaps gets a little older, then you could publish the blog to the world.

    As far as her posting and me moderating, there are a variety of ways to do that. Since she’s seven, I’m pretty much doing everything except the composing for her. I actually “post” the posts for her after she has dictated them to me, and I of course moderate the comments. I could’ve created the blog under my own Blogger login, but I chose to create a new login for Abby, thinking ahead to the future when I hope she will want to continue the blog on her own, in which case she would need/want her own login/space. Blogger does require an email address, but I don’t know if it has to be a valid email address. I went ahead and created a gmail account for Abby and used that as her Blogger login, again looking toward the future when she may want to use that email address. But you can enter any email address as the comment moderation address, so it doesn’t have to be the kid’s email address if you don’t want it to be (in this case, I used our home email address for comment moderation). I also made my Blogger login an administrator on the account, although as the owner she could always remove me at some time in the future. I anticipate that as she gets older – and if she continues to want to blog – that I’ll slowly show her how to post, then show her how to moderate comments (while I will subscribe to the RSS feeds for her posts and comments).

    I believe most blogging platforms offer some similar options, some more extensive, some less so. But I think most of them probably offer enough choices that you could accomplish the same type of setup I currently have for Abby’s blog.

    Shaun - Let's hope not! Thanks for stopping by (both blogs). Just curious, how did you come across my blog?

  6. Karl,

    I think I will try this with my son. He is also 7. Maybe we can teach our kids to link to each other via RSS feed on Google or create links on their blogs...

    What are your thoughts on this type of collaboration?


  7. Jim - first, I think we need to remember that they're 7. I'm not sure that Abby will continue to blog, although I hope she does. And I'm not planning on setting her up with anything RSS for a while.

    But I do think that if your son starts blogging we should try to hook them up. I think two seven year olds that can read each other's blogs and hopefully comment every once in a while can learn a lot from each other.

    If you set him up, send me a link. Or, even better, have him comment on Abby's blog with the link.