My Daughter Wants a Blog for Her Birthday

My Daughter Wants a Blog for Her Birthday

Kid blog 2

Last month, my 7-year-old declared she wanted a blog for her birthday.

Oy.

Her birthday’s next month. My husband and I have been talking it over, while she’s been busy brainstorming names, plotting categories, and dreaming up potential posts.

blog categories

Potential categories. She’s serious, y’all. 

There’s so much I love about this idea. She’s bursting with creativity, and a blog would be a great outlet. (Her “post” for this blog is consistently one of the most popular.) She wants to share projects and stories and ideas.

But I’m not exactly comfortable with the idea. Because, you know, it’s the internet. And she’s a kid.

One possible solution–and its drawbacks

An obvious solution is to make the blog private, using a service like Kidblog or requiring readers to obtain a password to read it. (This probably goes without saying, but on the back end, I would have the only password that has a “publish now” button, and I would moderate comments.)

But a private blog isn’t a perfect solution—and not just because my daughter loves the idea of reaching a large audience.

my child wants to blog

I’ve been combing through the research, and I’ve been surprised at what I’ve found. The Stanford Study of Writing found that college students write more and better when they believe they’re writing for a large audience. Additionally, the students “almost always” had more enthusiasm for self-directed writing–writing they did on their time, on subjects they chose–than on writing they did for class.

This is notable to me because we homeschool, and the educational potential of a blog is obvious.

My daughter has her blog all planned out: she wants to learn to type, and make lists, and long-term plans. She wants to write and write and write. She wants to take pictures and make crafts. She wants to ask big brother to be her copyeditor.

Is the blog necessary for all this? No. But it’s wonderful motivation.

No precedents

And so now, we have a month to decide what to do about this blog.

Jon Acuff has often said that it’s tough for today’s parents to figure out social media with our kids because there’s no precedent: We are the first generation of parents in the history of mankind that has to have a digital footprint conversation with our kids.

And there’s definitely no precedent for figuring out what to do when your daughter wants a blog.

Oh, and after she starts the blog? She wants an Etsy shop to go with it.

Oy. 

Dear readers, hit me up with all your wisdom. What advice do you have to offer? (And if you have little people in your life who want blogs of their own, tell me about it!) 

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68 comments

  1. Wow! Personally I think it’s wonderful that your daughter wants a blog – as a birthday present nonetheless! I should admit that I gave one to my daughter for her 7th birthday last year, domain name and all. At the moment it is still a private blog which only family members can access, though coincidentally she asked me today why it’s not publicly available and explained that she would like it to be!

    Most social media sites will not allow under 13s to sign up (my daughter blogs with Blogger which has this rule, for example). Personally I feel the reason for this is because pre-teens may lack the maturity to deal with an online presence. If you do decide to give your daughter a blog, I would make a few suggestions to ensure her online safety and prevent any negativity which could result from her being “online” so young:

    – YOU control the blog as admin, and set up your daughter as an “author” only. If you’re able to prevent her from posting before you moderate, all the better!
    – Moderate ALL comments, if you choose to allow comments at all
    – Make firm rules about what she can and cannot publish (personal info, email addresses, location, etc.)

    In my opinion it’s a lovely idea! So long as you’re willing to keep tabs on her online presence it could well be a wonderful educational experience for her. I think I may let my own daughter make her blog public soon (partly because I want to integrate her blog with the homework we do together in order to increase motivation) and would be more than happy to chat about it with you if you’d like?

    Good luck if you do decide to go ahead, and if you choose to make it public would it be okay for me and my daughter to take a peek please?

  2. sarah says:

    wow, with a 4 year old as my oldest i have no idea what i’d so. I totally see the incredible value it could add to the developement of her writing skills, and I’m going to homeschool too later so I know i’ll consider the same thing. But the risks are real and scary, though it sounds like there are ways to control things and montior heavily. I guess there is just that concern that since there is no precident, there are issues that we haven’t thought of that can crop up. Maybe I’m overly paranoid becuase i’m still recovering from reading dobson’s “Bringing up Girls” last month.

    In any case, I hope you let us know what happens with the whole things, and how you navigate this. I’d love to hear how it pans out!

  3. Leanne Penny says:

    Wow I have no idea what I would do, my kids are still so unaware of the internet, they know about games and that PBS kids is only available when the WiFi is on but they don’t really have any clue yet.

    Either way I’ll be tuning in to see what she comes up with!

  4. If you decide to grant her this birthday wish, I would totally read her blog. I think the preventative measures you would take on the front end would be smart. I also think you are asking the right questions to make you concerned without being fearful, and the fact that this would be a family endeavor makes it “safer” in my brain. She would have tons of support and encouragement along the way.

  5. Amy says:

    I’ve set up blogs for both my girls (8 and 10) but haven’t advertised them outside of email with family members with the request they don’t share outside family. So far they both posted a few posts and quit.
    They weren’t happy about not having a huge audience. I think they figure they can be super popular like iCarly. Not saying they can’t, but I think it’s that they CAN that makes me worried.
    You will have plenty of control…they needed my help with everything about posting all of the posts except the writing. I guess if they did it long enough they wouldn’t but definitely at first you would be right there setting ground rules.
    I guess I could open it up to a larger audience and see if they have some revived interest. I know @marlataviano’s kids all have blogs that are public.
    Not sure I offered any advice here, just my experience so far :)

  6. Personally, I’d wait a little. Just because I was 7 once, and I remember how quickly I lost interest in things…

    How about having them start a family newspaper? They could write articles, edit them, and then ‘publish’ it together. You could photocopy ‘copies’ for various family members to read when they visit, or post it out to them, or even e-mail it to them. They could do it on the computer if they wanted it to feel more professional. You could even do this as a trial, to see if they do lose interest.

    The other reason I’d hold off, is that I was once also 13. And I’ve since found my diaries from that era and it not something I would like to have been shared with the world. Even though my emo musings, and not-so-cryptic allusions to boys all seemed so real at the time, now I can look back and laugh.

    I wouldn’t have been able to do that at 18 if my friends from college could find them online! And it’s naive to think that we can control what is put onto the internet.

  7. Jeannie says:

    A blog’s a wonderful place for experimentation and fun with writing so I think it’s so great she wants to do this. My daughter’s experience is a little different but I thought I’d share it. Last year when she was in grade 8 her class did an initiative called “Challenge for Change” in which students (in groups or alone) did projects to help make the world a better place. She wanted to write a story about 2 girls — one well-off, one from a poor family — who met at a homeless shelter. The problem, though, was finding time to finish her entire story while she was doing a lot of other homework, etc. So we set her story up as a blog (I already have a blog so I just opened up a new one under my account). She would post one chapter and then we’d send a notice to friends & family via Facebook, email, etc. to let them know a chapter was up. This was a good way to builid suspense and interest, and also gave her a couple of days between postings to craft her next chapter. Soon she had a large # of people following her story and gaining more insight into the social & personal issues related to poverty, homelessness, etc. (which was of course the whole point). She ended up with a 10-chapter novelette (viewable at http://poorgirlrichgirlallison.blogspot.ca/, just FYI!). So I think blogging can open lots of interesting doors for young writers — I wish your daughter all the best with hers, because it sounds like she has tons of ideas.

  8. My first thought is that it is going to be a lot of work for you. Could you give her a regular guest-posting gig on your blog for a year first? If she is still interested in it in a year, then she gets her own real estate. Though given how long it takes to build up a solid blog readership, I kind of wish I’d started at age 7 (if the internet had existed…)

  9. carrie says:

    My 11 year old son has a blog on his own domain. I agree with what the first commenter said. He doesn’t blog often but his YouTube videos earn him a tidy sum each month. I’m all for it!

  10. I second Laura’s idea. Just speaking for myself, I would enjoy seeing recurring guest posts by your daughter. :)
    I planned all along to have my children participate in my blog, so I circumvented the problem of them wanting their own, at least for a while. As a matter of fact, my 11 year old’s first post (a video and written tutorial on making duct tape flowers) goes up on Monday.

  11. Jaimie says:

    Wow, that’s a tough one. When I was seven, I had never heard of a blog, although I knew what the computer was. I used it to write family newsletters, and would make copies to send to my grandparents. That’s how I got my practice typing, writing, and doing personal non-fiction writing. I would do it whenever I felt like it, which was every couple months or so. I did that up through high school, and I think I have 20 or 30 “newsletters.” That was plenty for me.

    That said, your daughter DOES know what a blog is, and obviously sees you writing one and enjoying it. So, like most little girls, she wants to do what Mommy does.

    My mom let my sister start a blog when she was around 12, I think, because they’d watched the movie “Julie and Julia” and my sister wanted to work her way through a cookbook and blog about it. I think she posted a few times in a couple months and then quit.

    I would say, if this is something your daughter really wants to do, and if your husband is totally on board with it (my parents definitely discussed my sister having a blog before she got hers), then why not? It’s 2013, after all, not 1998. Like everyone else has said, you can have complete admin rights. Publishing, moderating, commenting, etc. Don’t let her publish before you read every post.

    I think, since we live in such a technology-saturated time, there’s nothing wrong with letting a seven-year-old have a blog, as long as she understands how careful she needs to be. Bottom line, you’re the mama, and you’re in charge. :) I think she could have a lot of fun designing and writing her blog–but you’ll basically be running two blogs. Which is why it would be a gift–not necessarily of money, but of your (and maybe even your husband’s) time. :)

    • Anne says:

      “That said, your daughter DOES know what a blog is, and obviously sees you writing one and enjoying it. So, like most little girls, she wants to do what Mommy does.”

      Yep, I hear this is pretty common for children of bloggers :)

      And I fear you’re right about the giant gift of time.

  12. Since I’m not a mother, I can’t speak to whether or not she should have a blog. However, I can see it as a cool resource for homeschooling. I work at a university and many of the English professors require students to blog their reading responses and other class assignments. It could be a cool school tool for your family.

  13. Tim says:

    I’d say give it a shot, Anne. And to build on what Laura said above about guest posting being a way for her to ease in, I would be honored to host a piece from her at my place. She can get her feet wet by writing for others, but it would be at a place where I’d keep a very (VERY, that is) close eye on the comments.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  14. HopefulLeigh says:

    I cannot even imagine if I’d had a blog at her age. I did write some inventive stories but I would cringe now to have had an audience beyond my teacher, friends, and family. I have to admit though, an audience and thoughtful critique is what helps us grow as writers.

    I’m reminded of some general blogging advice to those starting out, which could apply here: write a bunch of blog posts before making the blog public. This way there’s content already there, you can get a sense of the platform and work out the kinks, as well as figure out if blogging is really the way to go. Start her out on Blogger and keep it as private as possible so she can get her feet wet. This will help you all determine what to do from there.

  15. Sheila says:

    Well, you know my oldest is only 3.5 so I haven’t had to address this sort of thing yet, so I’m speaking fairly hypothetically.

    I think I’d let her have one with some restrictions:
    * You’re the admin. She’s an author and can’t actually publish anything. (WordPress makes it so easy!)
    * You’ve given guidelines on what she can/can’t share. Not necessarily just the obvious this-isn’t-safe. But the “wow, she might regret sharing that when she’s older” kind of stuff.
    * You’ve set limits on frequency (so it stays manageable for you too since it’ll add to your workload).
    And whenever I say “you” above, I mean both you & her dad of course. :)

    I might even have it where she has to write ahead with content before you make it live, as a way to make sure it’s not a short-lived idea.

    Also, do you read the Frugal Girl’s blog (http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/)? Her daughter has a blog as well, linked to from her mom’s (http://www.bakingwithlisey.com). She may have written about their decision to let her have one. I think she was 9 when she started it. And she’s homeschooled, so I think that plays a role in it too. :)

  16. Shana Norris says:

    Anne, I love to see kids interested in writing. Kudos to your daughter for that, and for being so inspired and motivated.

    In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer here. So much depends on how much oversight and involvement parents are willing to have. I have a feeling that you’re an involved parent who will do plenty of both.

    I often feel concern when I see older elementary and middle schoolers basically living out their lives on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. That’s my big concern with social networking and kids. Do they even live in the real world anymore?

    I see blogging as being a little different, because it’s more active versus passive. In so many ways, it could be seen as a richer experience for a child than hitting “like” on Facebook, posting selfies on Instagram, and re-pinning images on Pinterest.

    Just seems like the blog would encourage more of the qualities we want to instill in our children: work ethic, planning ahead, creativity, giving a voice to inspiration, writing skills, hearing and responding to the opinions of others, etc.

    • Anne says:

      Shana, these are great thoughts on active vs. passive. I love the way you articulated the difference (though I can’t say I’d ever thought about it quite like that before!)

      Love your last paragraph. That is my hope :)

  17. Interesting timing for me to read this piece. I have a 7yr old boy and i have encouraged (and he has embraced it eagerly) the reading habit from young. I started reading to him from birth. Although i send my son to a government school, i have been very much concerned with his growth phase and finding other ways to ‘supplement’ the typical educational process. Consequently, the idea of him having a blog came to my mind and after running the idea past him two months ago, we launched his blog. Its still in its infancy but the progress has been good.

    I embraced the idea for a few reasons:
    1. The blog is exclusively focused on book reviews only – he wont be writing about himself in that sense – if it were about that instead, i might have been quite apprehensive about social media.
    2. Book reviews give him the ability to articulate and think through how he feels about a book, the impact it has on him and the wider questions so posed. It will involve critical thinking, regular use of language (english is not the primary language in school but is his mother tongue) and importantly, in an educational environment that i believe doesnt foster a child’s ability to think through the issues and then be prepared to articulate them persuasively, this blog will help foster that.
    3. Computer use is not prioritised in schools here so maintaining a blog will introduce him to keyboards, the mouse and learning to browse/search/learn in a self directed way while being in a protected environment where all social contact is heavily regulated and monitored by me.
    4. Over time i expect that people and hopefully other kids will come across his blog and initiate contact which may be indeed a wonderful experience. Again, emphasis on monitoring and moderating is key to ensuring privacy and the individual are paramount.

    Finally, am just learning as i go along. If the idea bombs, it can just be switched off. So we are enjoying the ride, so to speak. Other than this, i don’t push or support any other digital footprint for him- he has no facebook presence and doesnt exist on the net because i dont talk about him or post pictures etc. i have my reasons for this but its a different conversation. Hope this helps.

    • Anne says:

      Rowena, I love your thoughts on how important the subject matter is when kids are blogging. I hope your son is enjoying is blog and that you both are finding the process of blogging book reviews to be fruitful.

  18. Debbie says:

    Hi Anne, My nine year old daughter and I have just started a cooking blog that we are doing together. It has been working out great so far, but I’m not also running a popular blog of my own like you are…so I can appreciate the time issues you might have. I had thought about keeping our blog private, but I agree with some of the other commenters…it’s much more exciting and motivating to think about all the people out there who could potentially be reading what you write. I think, like anything else, the close monitoring that I’m sure you would provide would keep things safe for her. Good luck!

  19. In general, I wouldn’t say no to the idea. But she’s only seven and the best thing to see if it’s really for her is to have an agreement, that she’ll get her blog but only after she’s been writing and doing bloggy stuff for at least a few months without publishing them. (Or publishing them in a family email-newsletter). If she keeps this up for some months, you can give it a try (and have some more time to think about rules etc.).

    As mentioned in some other comments, keep a CLOSE eye on it if you do it. Let her be author, not admin (you’re the mom after all!). And maybe it’s better not to let her know the password. So she cannot log on herself and only sees comments after they’ve been moderated (think of all the bad spam comments that you’ll get as soon as the blog is online).

  20. Sarah Beals says:

    My 10 year old has one, and it has been a great tool to teach her basic grammar. Speaking from some experience: establish the rule that she has to ask before she posts pictures. You never know what kids will publish faster than you can check it. :0/

  21. Rebecca says:

    A blog is a wonderful tool to keep a child writing about and photographing their world. As a professionally trained educator and mom of three, I would highly recommend keeping the blog private until she is much older. Whether you realize it or not, much of her desire comes from a desire to gain time with and approval from Mommy by copying you. That’s how God has hard wired little girls — all of our daughters do the same thing. Because she hasn’t developed abstract thinking yet, she may feel that she needs a popular blog like yours to be a part of your world. Good luck and have fun — that is one of the best birthday gift ideas I’ve heard in a long time!

  22. Go for it! Real life writing is not only a motivator but develops writing skills authentically and in an engaging manner. My homeschooled 14 year old started a youth film production company with her friend. She also writes a blog about movies, acting, screenwriting and film-making. It has been wonderful to watch the learning process. She is looking for younger readers as well as blogs to read that are written by other kids. http://www.fountainofyouthproductions.com/

  23. KT says:

    With all due respect to Jon Aucuff, he’s wrong. You aren’t among the first generation of parents who at least needed to have the digital footprint conversation. Mine are, or maybe even parents of late ’80s children who had access to message boards and e-mail lists before there was a world wide web. Kids have been able to make internet mistakes since at least 1995. There are things that I very unwisely wrote at 16 stored in “the wayback machine” at archive.org if you know where to look, although thankfully not with my full name attached.

    I don’t wish that my parents had said no to my desire to start my own little website at 12. It led directly to my career and I learned a lot of valuable lessons that way. What I do wish was for more oversight and direction. I say you should let your daughter go for it, but make sure you have a lot of oversight controls in place. You can gradually let up on them as she gets older and internalizes the lessons you’ve taught her.

  24. Lucinda says:

    I love that she wants a blog and thinks bigger than the zip code she lives in. I say let her go for it — of course I don’t have children so take that for what it’s worth. Use common sense but let her explore her dreams and passions. Wish that had happened for me.

    • Anne says:

      “Wish that had happened for me.”
      Lucinda, I’ve been thinking through her blog request with this very thought on my mind. I wish I would have had a few more tools for learning and exploration when I was younger, too.

  25. Beth says:

    All I can think is what a crazy vote of confidence this will give her, not only from her own mother and family, but from her future readers, of which she will have many, no doubt. If this little girl grows up in the shadow of all that, she is sure to have high self-esteem, high self-worth, and high expectations for her quality of life, education, relationships…practically every aspect of her future. I truly believe that self-esteem (recognizing our worth as Christ’s co-heirs, in Christian-ese), is one of the most crucial aspects to having a fulfilling life on this planet and walking fully in His plans for our life.

    I say go for it! Especially if you and her dad are on top of checking for problems, creepers, etc., and protect her as much as possible…she should be fine.

    And, also, I really really really wish my college English professors (my minor) had read that research.

  26. MSmith says:

    Personally, I would be ecstatic if my daughter comes to me in a few years (she’s only 4 now) and asks if she can start a blog! Especially if she has entrepreneurial desires! That seems like great aspirations. Plus, like you said, the blog would make a great outlet for her creativity and thoughts. It would make a natural journal for her (if she doesn’t keep one already). This blog and etsy store could be some serious fuel and motivation to her to be her absolute best for many years to come!

  27. Kerry says:

    Hi there, can I ask what you decided to do? My daughter is 8 and really wants a blog and I am as you were a little unsure about the idea. She wants it to be a public blog form the start and like you daughter has it all planned out!!
    I love the creativity aspect and the fact that at a young age she is so passionate about writing and her life that she wants to share it with the world but the safety side is what puts me off!
    Any advice would be greatly received! Thanks xxx

    • Anne says:

      Kerry, I need to do an update at some point! She has a blog now. It’s not private, but we’ve only shared the domain with about three people so far. Right now we’re trying to figure out a good rhythm for letting her write posts without disrupting our family life because she still needs a lot of supervision.

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  29. Songul says:

    Hi,
    My daughter is 9 and has been doing my head in to have her own blog for the past 2 years – we decided tonight to set up an account. Just wanted to know how your daughter is doing?

    • Anne says:

      She does have a blog setup, but recently she’s been way more into writing “books” than blog posts. And planning parties. I’m trying to roll with the punches here. :)

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