I’ve always thought blogging could serve as the perfect teaching tool for my kids because there’s so much they could learn by having one of their own. Over the summer we were supposed to start a blog about our 5 year old Yellow Labrador, Oliver. The kids and I thought that since Oliver gets far more Facebook likes and hearts on Instagram, and is the source of endless fodder, that he needed his own blog. We started the summer with good intentions. We brainstormed names, wrote an About section, and started talking about what we wanted the layout of our new blog to look like but somehow between swim practice, camp, and enjoying the lazy days of summer, we never added content on the site that lives at our purchased domain name.
Fast forward to last weekend where Little Miss Techie and I spent the weekend at Digital Family Summit where we were immersed in topics about digital content creation. Through hands-on workshops designed with tweens and teens in mind, Little Miss Techie learned helpful tips about vlogging, writing, and digital photography. She also developed a new love for creating video games through Gamestar Mechanic and added to the number of blogs in the blogosphere having created a new blog on WordPress.
The new blog is her own and while she’s not quite ready to reveal it to the world yet (don’t worry- I’ll let you know when she is!), she’s excited. And I’m excited for her because it opens up a whole new world of learning. Blogging will not only reinforce academic skills such as writing but will allow her exercise her creativity by deciding what tools to use to communicate while making her confront the challenge of digital wellness at an early age.
What else can she learn? Here are 6 things kids can learn by starting their own blog!
Communication— A blog allows kids to practice written communication to get their point across clearly and concisely. Incorporating video adds another element of communication skills. Vlogs aid teaching public speaking skills since the best ones convey key points concisely without too many ummms, allow the viewer to identify with the person on camera, and show a calm individual who isn’t flustered or nervous. Blogging also reinforces important ideas about copying and copyright that are taught in school. There are many things that can be used as blog fodder but young content creators need to know the difference between copying an idea and using an idea as a springboard for a post topic written in their own words.
Digital citizenship— Educating our kids about the advantages and disadvantages to blogging and sharing your opinions in a public space is not only part of having a blog but eventually being on social media. They need guidance about what is and isn’t appropriate online and to be able to tell us things without getting in trouble. Since the blog isn’t public yet, we haven’t discussed blog comments. Parents of kid bloggers at Digital Family talked about moderating comments for their children. Sure, parental moderation allows us to pre-screen the content and shield our kids from comment trolls and spam but I’d rather use these experiences to have another a conversation about digital citizenship. When she’s ready to allow the public to read her blog, we’ll talk about how she may get comments that aren’t so nice and why people feel the need to say mean things online. When she gets her first spam comment, we’ll talk about why people spam blogs. I’m sure that these are the first of many discussions we’ll have about digital citizenship but we plan to seize the teachable moments and educate her about the online space through what she’s experiencing as it arises.
Responsibility— All bloggers have gadgets and there’s a responsibility that comes with being able to use a digital camera, iPod, laptop, or tablet for blogging and taking care of the devices that you need for work. We’ve talked about when it’s appropriate to use devices to capture images and why we need to know her blog password. But let’s be honest, device-related accidents happen to the most careful of kids (and adults) and leave us without our gadgets. For peace of mind for our whole family, I know that I can get technology protection from Asurion that will insure and provide an extended warranty as part of our replacement plan.
Organization— When starting a blog, you can certainly post as often as you want but Little Miss Techie has seen my editorial calendar. Since she’s my mini-me and wants to post according to a schedule, we’ve talked about getting organized and figuring out how many posts she has time to create each week, whether there will be a certain day for each topic she wants to write about, and the frequency of creating videos for her new site.
Creativity— While at Digital Family, Little Miss Techie attended a 2.5 hour digital photography workshop where they discussed light and composition that appealed to her visual nature. I love that she will get to exercise her creative side through the photos she’s taking for her blog.
Digital wellness— Last night Little Miss Techie was having trouble falling asleep. Instead of asking to read, she asked if she could work on her blog. After I said no, I thought about why she was asking. She knows that I sit down at the computer and work after she and her brother are in bed so she thought this was the perfect time for her to write. Having a daughter that blogs makes me more conscious of my digital habits and how my work on my blog is perceived. At the same time, I know that she’s going to want to blog in addition playing soccer, taking piano lessons, practicing her violin, and going to her after school scrapbooking club. She’s a busy kid and her challenge will be to balance the things she is already doing with her new love of blogging while also unplugging. It might not be easy but with a little guidance, we’ll help her find a balance to achieve digital wellness that will allow her to do a little of everything that a fourth grade girl should be doing.
Thanks to Asurion for helping defray my fall conference travel costs through our partnership. Before you hand over devices to your blogging kids, learn more about Asurion’s comprehensive coverage designed to protect your devices against mobile mishaps through their website and Facebook page. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of Asurion.