Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Teens' Bold Blogs Alarm Area Schools

"No one under 18 would be surprised to hear that teenagers like to post their intimate thoughts and photographs online—they've done it for years. But school administrators have begun to take notice, and some are warning students that their online activities may affect not only their safety, but also their academic and professional lives.

"In recent weeks, several Washington area schools have taken action against the use of blog sites, in particular Facebook.com but also the sites MySpace.com and Xanga.com, which allow teenagers—and sometimes younger children—to post details of their lives for all to see."

Even teenagers who "warn others about the sites have their own sites." From one: "'I'm in seventh grade,' the girl said. 'It's really hard to be in seventh grade these days. It's really hard if you're shy and you're not a cheerleader or extraordinarily popular. I travel, I take pictures, I write poetry. I'm a nice kid, and if I can write a profile that will make people notice me, why shouldn't I?'"

"Bilqis Rock, 16, a senior at Springbrook High School in Montgomery County, said she tries to make her page look attractive "so that folks want to come back and look at mine. It's kind of like a little show that I'm putting on, trying to put my best and coolest out there."

"Her mother, Melanie Rock, said that she and her husband have talked to Bilqis about smart Internet use and that she is not worried. Rock hasn't looked at her daughter's page.

"'She hasn't invited me to look, and I figure it's her space,' Rock said, adding, 'This offers them a way to have a sense of community.'" ...

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