Today’s younger generation of online users tend to communicate with brief bursts of information like a Facebook update or a text message, rather than the longer form of an online blog.
According to a recent Pew Internet Project study, 73% of wired teens now use social networking sites rather than blogging, perhaps because they are just too busy keeping up with texting, email, messaging and phone calls to have the time to read or write a longer report on news, thoughts and feelings.
This is a pity because educators and parents are discovering the advantages of blogging for kids as a way of helping students develop skills that will add significantly to their personal and educational development.
With so much negative information in the media about the potential pitfalls of online relationships for children, the primary consideration for parents and teachers is one of safety. That is where Kidblog.org comes in – a safe, simple to use blogging platform geared toward encouraging blogging for kids among elementary and middle school children. Teachers and parents can be aware of their children’s online activity and be a guiding force in helping to develop their creativity, originality and self expression.
The educational benefit of blogging for kids on a controlled social networking site is that it prepares them for high school and college learning. By guiding student online writing in a positive manner, children get to learn how to behave responsibly online, instead of resorting to gossip and mischief. The website kidslearntoblog.com is a valuable resource for teachers and parents who are looking for an introduction to the world of blogging for kids and to see how it can be a positive educational experience for elementary school age children.
Blog sites for children under 13 are rare because of the Children’s Online Protection Privacy Act (COPPA) which restricts children under the age of 13 from registering on sites such as xanga.com, livejournal.com and blogger.com. Recommendations for under-13s include weebly.com which offers a free website and blog site, but they are not as user friendly as kidslearntoblog.com. This is a comprehensive site designed by teachers for teachers, so that students can benefit most from the blogging process.
Teachers create a class account at kidblog.org and students sign on with a password and can immediately focus on publishing content without a complex interface or even an email address. Teachers as administrators of the account have full control over the comments and posts of their online class and their control panel offers options that allow a range of visibility from totally private to fully public. This facility is welcomed by teachers who have been frustrated in the past about the lack of teacher oversight for existing student publishing programs. Membership in Kidblog.org is emerging as a unique tool for classroom use where potential student authors can be encouraged in a secure online environment.
Blogging for kids is a great way to improve a child’s writing and typing skills. Blogs can also be typed up in Microsoft Word, improving keyboard skills at the same time, before being posted to the blog site. Students can experiment with their creativity by adding clip art, headlines and they can even turn their blog into news stories, reporting on their school activities, classroom field trips and family outings. They can write blogs as letters to distant family members or as a diary. Aspiring fiction writers and poets have an instant outlet for their creativity and publication for their peers is in a safe place for commentary and discussion. Dialog between author and critics leads to new motivation and insights as students realize they are writing for a real audience.
Another great online resource for teachers is Thinkquest.org which is more than just a blogging platform – it is describes as “a platform for learning, where students create projects with their teachers, use online collaboration tools, and can browse and study other projects from other schools and student groups. Since this takes place in a very controlled and regulated environment, it is an excellent way to introduce students to proper netiquette and blogging techniques without worrying about inappropriate content or links.”
The online article, Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom, by David Huffaker, provides a scholarly view of ways to integrate blogs into the classroom experience. He writes, “Blogs are not limited to individual classes or even entire schools, resonating the power of building online communities. Blogs can be used to promote reading and writing, to showcase the work of students or to exchange ideas among students, teachers or school administrators. In sum, blogs exemplify that online content creation is only limited by the creativity of its users.”
Teachers and parents can now be an important part of this new technology by helping to unleash the creativity of children or students with free and easy to use platforms for blogging for kids at the elementary school level.