February 1, 2014

13 reasons why you must teach your kid to blog

The subject is so big, we’d use two successive posts to deal with it. Let’s talk in this first post about what we are proposing and then a bit about children’s online safety. In the second post, we talk about the do’s and don’ts of engaging children in blogging.

Gift your kid a blog

No joke this, and you better do it now if you haven’t done yet.

Some assumptions, first.
  • We are talking about children below the age of 12 or so, not young adults and late-teens. Maybe, we’ll discuss teen matters sometime later.
  • We’d discuss children’s own blogs as well as blogs facilitated by parents. Blogs maintained fully by parents are in true sense not kid blogs. 
  • We are talking mostly about personal blogs with social information and comments [and so, blogs that have personal and social consequences], and not blogs on school subjects, technology etc [socially neutral blogs]. 

How does early blogging help kids?

A blog can help in personal, social and intellectual growth of the child in many ways. We have a dozen reasons, but there could be many more – some specific to the kid blogger.

1. Building confidence. Blogging gives children a place they can call their own; it is their property, like their room, their Pokemon or WWF cards, their dolls. If properly initiated, they’d feel proud about the blog, confident that they can stand on their own and comment on any matter they like. They’d also feel empowered with knowledge and tools that they get or are introduced during the blogging process. They’d feel more confident when they have a blog while some others in their peer group don’t.

2. Channeling energy and time into creative, desirable activities. Kids get attracted to the net more than they get attracted to TV, video games, sports, stories etc. Not only does internet give them entertainment, it has lots of variety and scope to explore hidden and forbidden territories. In addition, kids are likely to have their own peer group on Facebook and other social networks. Blogging is a much more creative activity and it is more amenable to supervision. Deciding the blog’s layout and design, sprucing it up, posting photos, drawing sketches for the blog, deciding what to share and what not… there are numerous ways a blogger kid gets imaginative and creative.

3. Integration with social networking sites. Blogging, on one hand, weans kids away from excessive social networking and, on the other hand, helps them showcase their creativity [in the blog] through Facebook, Pinterest, kids’ online communities, etc.

4. Improving social and social-media communication abilities. Blogging is more deep than social networking, and children get to learn how to say things after serious thought, in a manner that impacts. Guided properly, kids may over time take their posts as seriously as essays created for prestigious competitions. Much more than social networking sites and even real life, they learn to receive, and respond to, appreciation and criticism.

5. Broadening cultural horizon. Of course blogging is not the only such platform, but it, like other social media platforms, leads to interactions with people with varied cultural backgrounds and world-views. As said earlier, since blogging is not instantaneous, children can interact and conduct themselves in a more responsible way. It helps in personality development of children in a subtle way.

6. Improving language skills. By writing posts again and again, children learn to not only write, but write effectively. They correct their own mistakes or their mistakes are corrected by parents – in both the cases, this learning is voluntary and interesting and not a forced activity like classroom study and homework. In addition to just writing, they learn self-expression skills. Ask the kid to find a catchy phrase for ‘description’ of her blog and see how her expression improves as she tries to describe the blog’s theme in the best possible way.

7. Earning pocket money. Bloggers, even kids, can earn a few dollars if they properly monetize the blog. But it should, generally speaking, not be the aim for blogging early in life. Well, there are many examples reported in the press about how kids have made thousands out of their blogs. More grown ups young bloggers can try it with blogs in niche areas such as IT and coding, child fiction, etc. Parents can also monetize kids’ blogs with their own contributions on parenting, kid fashion, child health and so on.

8. Discovering passion and early advantage in a profession. Many young bloggers are discovering their passion or honing an existing one, with the help of their blogs. What can be a greater place than a blog to showcase a kid’s paintings or her fabulous story-telling talent? Why not let her experiment with photography, put photos on the blog and get comments and advice? Same with sports, hobbies, travel, craft, even fashion and health.

9. Aid to studies and school-based extra-curricular activities. Blog activity can directly and indirectly help children do their assignments, prepare presentations, collaborate projects, etc. But in this post, we are not talking about such benefits; these are additional. Many parents have reported that their kids did better in school and their concentration increased after they took to blogging.

10. Creative platform for children with special needs. Children who cannot play outdoor games, those suffering from long illness and children with disabilities can utilize their time well by blogging.

11. Early bird advantage. When kids start blogging early, they keep building their resources. If started early, these resources would become huge by the time the child becomes a teen and goes to college – the time when he / she will be more busy with projects etc. This is likely to help in numerous ways, and we can imagine just a few for now. For example, it will be possible in future to learn about a person’s psychological growth over the years: an important resource to diagnose root cause of drug-abuse, inferiority, guilt or other problems if these are seen in later years.

12. Employability. Big companies do all types of research into a prospective employee’s background. What better place can they find than the blog? It is a place where the blogger’s [=kid bloggers’ as their resources will come handy when they are employable – see ‘early bird advantage’ above] talent and inner strengths are likely to be in full show.

13. Technological learning. Kids do learn technological tools when experimenting with their blog, don’t they? Need we elaborate that further?

In the next post in this series, we'll discuss safety and blogging aspects of kid blogging, and introduce some 'big' little bloggers.