Goodbye diary — hello blog

Everyone seems to have a blog these days, but have you considered letting your teen start one? Inner thoughts and worries that used to be saved for a diary are now being spilled onto blog pages for all to see. Is baring your soul online a good thing for teens or a bad idea? Here are some things to consider before allowing your teen to start a blog.

Why blog?

Teenagers today have practically grown up with a mouse in their hand. Since they are already living so much of their life online, why not take their diary online too? Research published by the American Psychological Association suggests that blogging may be beneficial for teens who suffer from anxiety and self-esteem issues. “Research has shown that writing a personal diary and other forms of expressive writing are a great way to release emotional distress and just feel better,” says the study’s lead author, Meyran Boniel-Nissim, Ph.D. “Teens are online anyway, so blogging enables free expression and easy communication with others.” Researchers found that maintaining a blog had a much more positive effect on teen’s self-esteem than simply writing in a personal diary or journal.

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What the study found

The study tracked self-esteem, emotional distress and social anxiety and compared results to teens who wrote private diaries and to the control group who did nothing. The bloggers who were specifically instructed to write at least twice a week about their difficulties and left their blogs open to comments noticed the biggest improvement. Comments left on the teen’s blogs were overwhelmingly positive, according to researchers.

Is this a good idea?

"Blogging can be a great emotional outlet for teens struggling with social anxiety, self-esteem issues, and stress."

We spoke to Katie Hurley, licensed clinical social worker, about the idea that blogging might be therapeutic for teens. "Blogging can be a great emotional outlet for teens struggling with social anxiety, self-esteem issues, and stress,” says Hurley. “Essentially, it's a modern day diary. Supervision and education is required to help teens learn how to safely navigate social media and cope with potentially negative input from readers.” Blogging may be a good outlet for teens to deal with the ups and downs of life, but it may not be a replacement for therapy for teens in distress. "While journaling feelings (online or with pen and paper) can be an effective tool for teens and aid in the therapeutic process, it does not replace therapy, particularly for high-risk teens," says Hurley. If your teen struggles with anxiety or self-esteem issues, a blog may be a healthy outlet for them as long as you monitor the comments and posts.

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Bottom Line

Blogging may be a healthy way for teens to explore the feelings and anxiety that they are experiencing, but teens who suffer from anxiety disorders, depression and other serious issues need to be addressed by a qualified professional.

More on teen health

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Encouraging healthy sleep habits in your teen


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Comments on "Can blogging be therapeutic for teenagers?"

Erica June 07, 2012 | 10:34 AM

Blogging is fun! I've had several blogs on different platforms the past four years and it's a great creative outlet. However, I try not to post anything too personal about my life becaue you never know who might read it.

Krissy June 06, 2012 | 2:32 PM

I love blogging. I'm a new blogger and started my blog about 2 months ago. I think it's great if teens want to do it, too. It's a great outlet and it will keep them busy. Definitely one of the "better" hobbies for a teen to be involved in! Parents, just make sure your teenager isn't putting too much personal info on their, such as address, phone number, school, etc.

Leslie June 04, 2012 | 10:09 AM

I think blogging is a great way to update the standard pen-and-paper diary. Since teens are online so much already, they would be more likely to keep it updated if their journal was online.

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