The Effort to Keep an Online Diary Private

Many teenagers use journals and pages on site like MySpace to communicate with friends.

Many teenagers use journals and pages on site like MySpace to communicate with friends and meet new people. Sophia Chakos-Leiby hide caption

itoggle caption Sophia Chakos-Leiby

Bly Lauritano-Werner is a high school student with an online journal. Her mother reads the journal — but Bly thinks she shouldn't. Bly works with Blunt Radio in Maine. This piece came to us from Youth Radio.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Here's another story about the way that parents and children communicate when the children are much older. It comes from Bly Lauritano-Werner of Blunt Radio in Maine. She's 17 years old and, like a lot of teenagers, she has a MySpace page and a live journal.

BLY LAURITANO-WERNER reporting:

My mom and I don't agree at all about whether she should get to read my online journals. I think she has no right to read them. She thinks she does.

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER (Bly's mother): Because I have a connection with you. I'm your mom, but also I just feel like it would be more interesting to me than it would be to someone who didn't know you.

LAURITANO-WERNER: That doesn't mean she should get to read it.

One night, I got into an argument with my mom and her boyfriend, Scott. Mom knew I was mad, but she didn't know why.

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER: And actually reading your LiveJournal, you were very eloquent expressing what you were angry about and why you were angry. It was much more informative than a conversation would have been with you at that time. You said things about me that you might not have said to my face, but it was still helpful feedback to get.

LAURITANO-WERNER: Did it hurt your feelings at all?

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER: A little bit. But I'm almost over it. The years of therapy I think are paying off.

LAURITANO-WERNER: I locked my LiveJournal entries so only my friends can read them. But my nosy mom found my online rant because she saw the journal on the computer screen while I was on the phone in another part of the house.

She even said she'd do it again.

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER: Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldn't. I don't know. But you publish it and it's for general viewing, therefore I feel I'm part of the general public, so I could view it.

LAURITANO-WERNER: My mom always uses the excuse about the internet being public when she defends herself. It's not like I do anything to be ashamed of, but a girl needs her privacy. I do online journals so I can communicate with my friends. Not so my mother could catch up on the latest gossip of my life.

The truth is many of these sites are becoming lame because everyone is on them. It's not so cool anymore as teachers and parents like my mom are doing their own pages.

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER: Yes I did have a site on MySpace. I had a few pictures of myself, they were very candid shots that I might not normally hang up in my house or show to my friends. And I am an adult, so I put my true first name and my true age, but I didn't give too much personal information.

LAURITANO-WERNER: Did you make friends on MySpace?

Ms. LAURITANO-WERNER: Yes, I did. And I didn't even do it to make friends. I did it to stay in touch with some friends. And I was a little weirded out the first time someone I didn't know contacted me.

LAURITANO-WERNER: She might have been creeped out at first, but Mom ended up going to a hockey game with one guy. What a hypocrite. Especially since my Mom is always warning me about strangers online.

My mom having a MySpace? So embarrassing!

NORRIS: Bly Lauritano-Werner's story was produced by Youth Radio.

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