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Can blogging be therapeutic for teenagers?

Sherri Kuhn is a freelance writer, blogger and social media junkie. With a son in college and a daughter in high school, she always has something to write about. Sherri blogs from the heart — with an occasional side of sarcasm and humor...

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.

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?

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.

Read about why Facebook is no help for eating disorders >>

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

Helping teens take responsibility for their health
Time to have the sex talk with your teen
Encouraging healthy sleep habits in your teen

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