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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.


Got something to say? Got something to get off your chest? Tell the world. Blog it. Couldn't be easier - or cheaper, either.

What’s that word - "blog"? It’s short for "web log" - essentially a 21st century diary of whatever suits your fancy, with only one difference. There's no lock on this diary: it's a web page that’s typically accessible to your friends, family, anyone.

What can you blog about? Anything. Family life. Your hobbies. Your travels. Your pet peeves. Something you're really good at. (Thousands of bloggers have built worldwide audiences for their pearls of wisdom on everything from cooking to biking to scrapbooking.)

Signing up and getting started

Where do you start? Several companies will host free blogs for you: among the most widely used are Blogger (now part of Google), WordPress.com, LiveJournal, and Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces (sometimes known as MSN Spaces). If their offerings aren't enough for you - or if you grow out of them - you can also use paid subscription services like TypePad.

Once you sign up on the Web, you'll be asked to pick a title and design for your blog, and fill out basic information about it that your readers will see. Next, you can create your first entry, using the easy text editing tools built into your blog host's web site. You don’t have to worry about format, layouts, or any of the stuff that goes with typical web pages: your blogging tool handles all that. It also keeps track of your entries, placing new ones at the top, and managing archives of your older entries.

Comments and privacy

There is one important decision you'll have to make: should you permit comments? Having an interactive conversation with your readers can be one of the most rewarding things about your blog. But not everyone on the Web is equally polite or well-adjusted (you might find yourself banning certain individuals for their intemperate comments). If you do permit comments, read them (and consider responding: they can be a great source of ideas for new posts). However, keep in mind: there are a lot of blogs out there. If you don't start getting many comments right away, don't worry: it's nothing personal.

One last thing, but it's important. Since most blogs are accessible to anyone, if your child's blogging, you should give them the same warnings that go with any other web content they post: nothing personally identifiable, nothing that could get you in trouble later with colleges or potential employers. It's worth mentioning that some blogging services, like Blogger, do now offer privacy settings that allow you to limit your blog's audience.

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