Musings on… Children and Blogging

[Short break to regain focus before shifting tasks…]

Yesterday, in news, bradfitz wrote:

What happened to my account? It seems like it was suspended?
If LiveJournal has conflicting info about your age in your account (it appears different in two places) you need to authorize your account to prove you’re over 13 or have your parents’ permission to keep a LiveJournal. In the past we did not allow anyone under the age of 13 to have a LiveJournal. Now you can have one even if you are under 13 but because of Federal Law you must get your parents’ permission.

I’ll also note, as background, that the LiveJournal Privacy Policy says:

  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) requires that we inform parents and legal guardians about how we collect, use, and disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age. is not directed at children under 13 years of age but, we recognize that with proper adult supervision some parents might permit their children to visit and use our Service. COPPA requires that we obtain the consent of parents and guardians in order for children under 13 years of age to use certain features of
  • When your child attempts to register and/or provide personal information to, we require a parent or legal guardian to:
    1. complete the registration;
    2. review our privacy policy and to submit a valid credit card number to verify that the child’s parent or guardian knows about and authorizes our information practices related to children protected by COPPA; and
    3. verify through the use of an email confirmation and second authorization that the parent or guardian consents to the Terms of Service and this privacy policy.
  • Once parental notice and consent has been verified, the information we collect will be treated the same as information collected from any other user of Without verified parental notice and consent, we will not knowingly collect personal information of children under 13 years of age, and if we learn that we have inadvertently collected such information, we will promptly delete it.

So, with this as background, here’s my question and musings. My daughter (age 10) has discovered LiveJournal. Right now, she doesn’t have an account, but has left the occasional anonymous comment. In some ways, I think having an online journal might be good for her, as it would give her good practice in writing (which she needs). However, I also know, as an adult, that there are creeps on LJ (as in real life), and there is easily accessible inappropriate content. I also know how easy it is to spoof identities and pretend to be someone else, and that any measure put in place is relatively easy to subvert (remember, I work in computer security).

So, with that in mind, some discussion questions:
(note to cellio: Feel free to pass this question on to blog_sociology, but please provide a pointer to this posting so I can collect the discussion in one chain)

  1. Suppose you could modify LiveJournal to carve out a save haven for kids blogging. What changes would you make to do it? For example, might you limit who can post in a journal or be friended by a child by age? How would you reliably verify that age?
  2. Do you think blogging can be good for children? In what ways?
  3. Are you aware of any suitably safe services for children’s blogging?
  4. If you were to permit your child to enter the blogsphere, what rules and limitations would you impose? For example, should all comments require screening? All friends additions require approval?
  5. How do you balance the child’s need for privacy and a place to blow off steam, vs. a parent’s right to protect their children?
  6. Will the fact that there will be selected children under 13 here, making the median age on LJ even younger, make you feel even older?

[Quote from the musical I’m listening to: “Oh look. Oxygen masks!”]