Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teen Blogging

As new generations usher in the new decade, we find ourselves looking more and more toward children and teens to fill in the shoes of the big dreamers that just seemed to have disappeared. With the Internet still pretty much in full swing, one of the biggest outlets for teens is social networking. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter (more commonly the former) allows teens to connect with their friends, share photos, and communicate, all within the comfort of their desktop or laptop computer (not to mention mobile devices). However, one form of social expression, something that seems not to be associated as much with teens as it is other groups, is blogging. Whenever any of my friends think of blogging, they imagine either some big tech blogger, politician, or other figurehead writing posts about current events. However, blogging can sometimes be an essential unidirectional method of communication amongst teens, as it allows them to express themselves in longer more drawn out posts rather than the brief snippets you will find on Facebook and Twitter.

This week I have been in Baltimore, MD, participating in a teen art program called ArtsFest. While I am in the film and television group, I have been keeping a close eye on the creative writing and journalism group, who have been spending most of their time writing articles and, you guessed it, blogging. Even though these high school students are not writing about technology or politics, they still enjoy the blogging experience, and there are probably many more teens outside of this program who would enjoy blogging as well, but just have not been introduced to it. The reason blogging should be emphasized and encouraged amongst teens is simple: it's social writing. Writing itself is a form of expression that allows teens to express their emotions, organize their thoughts, and do something productive rather than talk with friends. But blogging is writing with a social aspect: you are speaking to a public audience, who can come back and comment on what you write, and even ReBlog. The social part of blogging not only makes it more interesting and appealing to teens, but also makes them take the process more seriously and thoughtfully than, say, writing in a diary or composing school essays. (And this ignores the fact that some teens might even decide to become professional bloggers and journalists as a result of their initial blogging experience.)

The problem with teens nowadays is that their forms of social communication have been shortened. Rather than call they text, rather then email they wall post. Many people would argue that this "shorter" form of communication is actually an improvement in efficiency, but it dramatically changes the actual experience of communication, that practice in expressing your thoughts to your peers. There are many teens that now do not know how to function in the real world because their pragmatic skills have been stunted by Facebook and the Internet. Blogging, however, reverses this effect, and brings back the long conversations and emails, while still retaining the technical and social aspect that draws in teens so easily. If teens were to blog more often, like myself and @holdenpage, I feel the adults would have more to look forward to once they pass the torch on.

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