If you’re like me, you probably have memories of writing in your very own journal, a journal that your parents most likely purchased for you. The journal probably had a tiny lock that secured it, and its key was very close to your heart for several years. I often look back at my time keeping a diary as formative. I was using reflective writing to learn more about myself and develop as a person. For that reason, encouraging your child to keep a journal makes sense, right? By encouraging your child to write about his or her life, you’ll encourage internal reflection, just as you were encouraged.
But in this day and age of social media and the information highway, it also makes sense to help your child learn how to navigate and process that complex and very public network. What better way to do this than to encourage your child to journal online!
Now, I know, some of us are wary of giving our children access to the internet, especially if that access will allow them to disseminate information about themselves. So, what I’m suggesting here is that we define the boundaries of journal-keeping online. I don’t mean that your child should start blogging, which is a very public sort of act, but that they use the medium of the internet as a way to give them the private reflective space that a journal affords them, while also helping them to learn the ins and outs of how the internet works.
One way to encourage them to do this is to lead by example. Both you and your child can create your own private journals online, and you can share the activity by having ‘journal time,’ during which you both sit and write for a few minutes about your day, what you’re thinking, and so on. By your example, you can show your child that the internet is, in fact, a safe place if accessed properly.
Another way to encourage your child to journal online is to start a group journal with him or her. Of course, it might not be the perfect privacy that your child might have gotten from a lockable diary, but it will be a document into which you both can share your private thoughts for the other. The collaboration between you and your child allows you to create a common document that you can revisit years later, and it also gives you, the parent, the added benefit of being able to monitor your child’s internet time in a subtle way. Again, the important result of this is that you build a layer of trust with your child regarding his or her internet activity, and you create a comfortable aura around that activity.
The above two suggestions are pretty basic, certainly, but I think they are useful nonetheless and the principles behind them can be applied toward many different activities that would encourage your child to journal online.
This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, who writes on the topics of online classes. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.