My eight-year-old has started writing a blog. I blame it on Stampylongnose.
When Felix discovered that Stampy’s youtube channel had reached two million subscribers, his eyes glistened with the kind of fervor shared by evangelists, politicians, rock stars.
My son is a beautiful, sensitive, creative boy, but he’s also a first-class ham.
Since he knows he’s not going to be allowed to tweet or upload videos to youtube, the only way for him to accumulate a large electronic fanbase, at present, is to blog. And this is a kid who doesn’t like to write! He didn’t even know what a blog was until a few months ago, when I started one, but once he overheard a conversation about “followers,” he keyed in really quickly.
I know that most intelligent parents probably wouldn’t consider letting their children have an online presence, but Oz and I decided that as long as we kept Felix’s identity protected and routed responses through my email for weirdo-screening, the benefits could outweigh the risks. Having a “readership,” an “audience,” a reason to express himself might provide the needed incentive for Felix to practice his newly-minted reading and writing skills.
We had a long talk with him about Internet safety and helped him come up with a pseudonym, and then he was ready to go.
For his very first blog, Felix announced that he was going to write about a traumatic event he had witnessed—a man punching a woman in a parking lot the day before Valentines Day. I blanched, suggesting that this “might be a little too grim” for a blog debut—“we don’t want to put people off immediately!”—and fortunately he came around to my editorial viewpoint.
He wrote, instead, about the book we were reading together, The Genius Files. A week later, he wrote about two dove’s eggs he found in a tree with his friends, followed rapidly by descriptions of a typical homeschooling day and food he’s learning to cook. He chose all of the topics himself and wrote the first drafts, and then we went through the paragraphs together, correcting sentence fragments, spelling, and punctuation.
So far, so good. Felix’s enthusiasm for the blog hasn’t (yet) diminished like the guitar lessons or swim team practices. Maybe because he is able to see his work “published” immediately, or because each entry is rewarded by a couple of “likes” or a highly-prized “following” notice. (One of his followers looks like a hit man but the rest appear to be harmless, kind-hearted, middle-aged women.) Felix cackles over each new conquest, promising to outnumber me before the month is through.
I don’t mind the competition; in fact I take pleasure in it. But for Felix to achieve the sort of Stampy-like success he envisions, he’s going to have to work harder to find his niche, his milieu, his WordPress peeps, and neither of us have a clue about where they might be hanging.
Out of 77 million WordPress sites, aren’t there any other Little Bloggers out there?
Suggestions anyone? Stampy?