Personal Internet Web sites, or blogs, are becoming more and more popular among young people. But the risks to personal privacy are also increasing. Faith Lapidus tells us more.FAITH LAPIDUS: Millions of young people are creating blogs. Millions of others are reading them. The word “blog” is a short way of saying Web log.
Many popular Web sites now offer free, easy ways to create personal Web pages and fill them with writings and pictures. Web sites called “Facebook” and “MySpace” are some of the most popular blog sites for young people. Many young adults use their blogs to write about daily activities and events in their lives. They also provide a place for people to write their ideas and opinions and react to the ideas of others.
Blogs offer young people a place to show their writings and other forms of self-expression. Blogs can also be helpful to connect young people with larger social groups.
But some researchers say the seemingly harmless blogs can become dangerous when read on the Internet by millions of people all over the world.
People are concerned that students are including information in their blogs that create a threat to their own privacy and safety. Recent studies show that young people often provide their name, age and where they live. This personal information puts them at risk of being sought out by dangerous people who want to harm them. Many students do not know about privacy and are surprised to learn that adults can easily read their personal daily records.
Students can also get into trouble when they include information on their blogs that can be seen as a threat to others. In several American states, students have been expelled from their schools or even arrested after their blogs were found to include threats against other students or teachers.
As a result, many schools have banned the use of blogging Web sites on school computers. Many schools have also begun teaching parents about the Web sites. Researchers say parents should know what their children are doing online and should read their blogs to make sure they are not giving out private information.One way to avoid these problems is by using programs that permit blogs to be read by “friends only.” These blogs permit people to read the website only if they know a secret word chosen by the blogger.