Online Journaling: What is Your
Courtesy of BattleCry.com
Blogging, or online journaling, is a unique mix of the
personal with the public. Web logs, commonly known as blogs, have
never been so popular and have captured the attention of millions
of young people. On them, individuals post journal entries that
are open for their friends and the general public to read and
respond to. However, many parents remain in the dark about what
their kids are writing about.
Free to express themselves online, teens hold nothing back. When
parents find out what their kids post, they may be shocked by
what they see.
Blogs can be windows into the often secret lives of teens. Struggles
such as cutting and eating disorders come out and are often discussed
in vivid detail.
On her blog on Xanga.com, one teen wrote, “I am anorexic
but I hide it from my family and most of my friends. I am afraid,
depressed and all alone. I just want some help but those who know
about my anorexia don't/can’t help me. I am searching for
help or support online. If you can help me, please comment and
What else are teens writing about? Some young people post provocative
pictures or make themselves appear older than they are. Mary Ellen
Handy, a volunteer with wiredsafety.org and the technology coordinator
at George Washington Middle School in New Jersey, found that parents
are largely unaware. “The girls are all made up to look
seductive…Parents have no clue this is going on. You think
your kid is safe because they are in your house in their own bedroom.
Who can hurt them when you are guarding the front door? But (the
Internet) is a bigger opening than the front door.” She
also discovered that one third of the students at the middle school
have blogs, and only 5 percent of their parents know about it.
Sometimes blogs even become a medium for posting hate speech,
gossip, trash talking, and slander. As one parent put it, “One
of the most disturbing aspects to a lot of the teen blogs is the
amount of profanity and trashing of not only other kids but parents
as well. I think a lot of parents would get a big dose of reality
if they read some of the trash that’s coming out of sweet
Johnny or Susie’s ‘mouth’ online.”
The scariest part may be who else is reading. Pedophiles, sexual
predators on the hunt, are known to use the web as a means of
luring young people. Through blogs, they may have found another
way to reach their prey.
Blogs can be a productive creative outlet. They are also a way
for people to keep in touch with each other. They offer insight
into the heart, soul, and life of a person, but just as with other
useful tools, there is a dark side.
Many parents are not as tech savvy as their children, but this
should not keep them from knowing what their kids do online. If
you do not know how to maneuver your way around computers or the
Internet, then take time to learn. Do not be afraid to ask for
help, even from your kids.
One technology teacher suggests that parents monitor, guide,
and supervise their children’s computer use, no matter what
age they are.
Online trends change quickly, and unless parents and other leaders
stay on top of what’s new, they won’t know how to
protect their kids. A great way to stay current is by knowing
the lingo. If the follow terms seem unfamiliar it may be time
to get caught up: iPods, chat rooms, IMs, blogs, text-messaging,
sharing music, My Space, and Xanga.
If you see or read something on your young person’s blog
that concerns you, try talking with them about it. It may be just
a hint of bigger issues. Ask questions and listen to their side
of the story when approaching them about a potentially shaky subject.
Remember James 1:19 (NLT), “You must be quick to listen,
slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” As you seek to understand
what is going on in their lives, you will uncover opportunities
to share the encouragement and challenge they need to grow in
their relationship with the Lord.
For more tips on how to keep your kids safe online, go to the
FBI's Parent Guide to Internet
MSNBC, Austin American-Statesman, Richmond Times-Dispatch,
Cape-Cod times, Xanga, Maximized Manhood, FBI
Read youth culture news, youth ministry articles, and join the
fight for America’s young people at http://www.battlecry.com.
Article reprinted with permission.
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