My teens want to start a blog together–what are the pros and cons?

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, is Children’s Hospital Boston’s media expert and director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. Take a look at his blog archive or follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston

Q: We have a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who are at the same school. They have voluntarily given up Facebook because of the time drain it can be, and both have fairly heavy academic loads. They are interested in starting a blog together. What are the pros and cons?

Benefits of Blogging in Roseville, CA

A: Dear Benefits,

What a great way for adolescent siblings to connect and use their creativity together! This kind of self-expression that can be incredibly powerful—even therapeutic—for teens pursuing the developmental tasks of finding themselves and connecting with their peers. But it can also be as much of a time sink as Facebook. To help them focus their efforts and make the time they spend on this project rewarding and positive, ask your teens these questions:

“What is the mission of your blog?” Do they want their blog to focus on sports, or music, or issues in their school, or what it’s like to be a teenager? Maybe they want to offer their different age, grade level, and gender perspectives on issues that interest them both. Having a vision and mission will help them focus their blog, limit the time they spend updating it, and create a unique niche in the blogosphere that will draw readers.

“Who is your audience?” Knowing who they’d like to have read and respond to their blog will help them focus their posts. They should choose what they write with an understanding that the blog will be accessible and interesting to many people—like teachers, coaches, grandparents, friends, and crushes—and not just to their intended audience.

“How will you handle comments?” Blog comments can lead to productive, exciting conversation, but they can also be a breeding ground for gossip and attacks. If your teens want to allow comments on their blog, encourage them make themselves moderators of the comments, so that no comment actually posts without their approval. That can help them create a space for thoughtful, responsible, useful communication—and prevent the bullying behaviors that could occur there.

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,

The Mediatrician®