Here’s some news that will actually have you encouraging your teen to log on: Blogging may help soothe stress and boost self-esteem, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Researchers say blogs are even more effective than written journals for kids because they promote sharing, allow feedback and build interpersonal skills. Help your teenager set up his own blog by following these steps.
1. Choose the right platform. “Go with Blogger or Wordpress—they are easy to use, customizable and have the best privacy options,” says Gwenn O’Keeffe, M.D., American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson and a social media expert.
2. Tweak privacy settings. Talk to your child about having a private blog, and letting only you and handpicked people have access. “Rude, off-topic feedback from anonymous readers won’t help a vulnerable teen,” explains O’Keeffe. Plus, it can be dangerous to reveal personal details—name, school, hometown—to strangers.
3. Become a fan. Check out the blog regularly—at least a few times a month. “The default temperament for teens at home is a poker face, so you might be surprised by how expressive your child can be on a blog,” says O’Keeffe. If you notice something that’s worrying—a poem about sadness or dying, for example—casually bring it up. “Say, ‘I enjoyed your poem, but I’m curious to know how you were feeling when you wrote it,’ ” suggests O’Keeffe.
Is your teen a blogger? If so, do you read his or her blog?