Parent Won’t Allow 10 year old to Blog – Wants to Protect Their Child’s Intellectual Property Rights

A teacher that recently started a class blog in 4th grade (9 – 10 year olds) informed me that a parent had declined to sign the “permission slip” allowing their child to blog because, “They want to protect their child’s intellectual property rights.”

My first reaction was “… uh, OK … uh wait …  what!?”

As I thought about it I realized that perhaps I had missed being aware of  this issue and so I decided I should look into it further. (1) I wanted to know if it is a legitimate concern, and (2) if there was information I could find that would mitigate the parent’s apprehensiveness and allow the student to participate in a valuable learning experience – blogging (and other social networks). I also knew this could be an excuse the parent was using from fear of having their child’s work online – which is not uncommon. I should also mention that the student will blog and post work using a pseudonym, not their real name. I have had parents occasionally refuse initially to allow their child to blog or post anything online, but after meeting with them and explaining what we were up to and showing examples they’ve always given permission.

Before I go on please, please share any insights to this you may have in the comments. If this is a non-issue, I’d like to give the teacher involved either a heads-up or points to make to the parent.

I’m not privy to any specifics the parent had in mind here, but I’m guessing they are concerned that if their child grew up to be someone famous, or the writing or media pieces they post now might have value in the future (example what if Steven King or Steven Spielberg had had blogs when they were 10 (or younger) and their work (writings, videos, etc.) as a child were accessible through postings on the web? Is there some way that work would diminish the value of other work they produced now or in the future? Could someone market writings, videos, other media they produced and posted online somehow (legally) and make money? Are there other implications / rights that I’m not thinking of that could be an issue?

Of course I went right to my PLN in Twitter and asked for help thinking that I might find out that of course this is an issue …  you didn’t know!? Which was a real possibility.

  • Had a parent today not allow 10 yr. old to blog, wants to protect her child’s intellectual property rights. ? ?


  • And I soon received feedback:


  •  There are lots of misconceptions out there about IP rights. Was once told by a tchr the reason she never posted anything online >






  • I responded with:


  • Good point. Maybe we have to put copyright / creative commons language on student blogs? (or is it already there?)



I received many other great responses, mostly about setting the student’s privacy settings certain ways and other “work arounds” which were insightful in their own right, but I’m not looking for work arounds at this point. I just want to know if this is even a real issue. It would be best if this student could participate fully.

Again if you have any knowledge of the implications / law / or something I’m addressing here of on this topic, please leave a comment.

Learning is messy!

This entry was posted in Blogging, Education, Student Access, Teacher Access, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Parent Won’t Allow 10 year old to Blog – Wants to Protect Their Child’s Intellectual Property Rights

  1. Scott McLeod says:

    Just because something is published doesn’t mean that you lose creative control of it. In fact, exactly the opposite. The act of publishing (posting) it claims it to the world. The teacher can’t make a student give up his/her intellectual property or copyright rights against his/her will…

    Not sure what the concern is here. Hope the parents see the value in being connected and contributing to our global information commons!

    Hi Scott – me too – Like I say in the post, I’m not sure if this is a real concern of the parent(s) or they heard something somewhere or they are fearful and this is an excuse. Thanks for the comment.

  2. This is interesting and something I think we should get a handle on.

    Without worrying about motives/fears I think this suggests we need to consider the space and platforms we use for publishing. Given the complexities of privacy policies like google, facebook and others, I think the idea of students publishing to their own space because a greater issue. Certainly we are talking minute numbers but in principle I think the idea is worth discussing. It’s why I don’t use any kind of LMS with my college students. I want them to own their work.

    This may not be doable or feasible for younger students but some plan to transition to personal publishing platforms might be a good discussion.

    Brian – Thanks Dean – I’m just hoping I haven’t opened a Pandora’s Box here (though I doubt it) – this IS something to give thought to and deal with constructively. Maybe this parent did us a favor. (?)

  3. This is really interesting and my assumption is that this is a result of fear that is based on misperceptions or ignorance around publishing and IP.

    As others have stated, as soon as an idea is expressed in a tangible form — a painting, a drawing, a published piece of writing (including web publishing) — the author or artist already owns the copyright. Registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional legal protection in the event of a lawsuit.

    However, the more immediate need (in my opinion) is to include parents in any sort of discussion or education around digital citizenship and online safety. Commonsense Media has some good family education materials:

    I think you are right on target to want to inquire more about why the parent refused to sign the form. I think a more indepth conversation with the parent could provide greater insight to you or the teacher that might lead to a pathway to gain the parent’s permission. When we know what they fear we can find the appropriate resources to help the parent overcome those fears.

    Just my 2 cents :-)

    Brian – Thanks Stephanie for your 2 cents – I think you have hit on the “there are no easy answers to this” issue and has to involve discussion with the parent about what the fear/objection is really about. As I mentioned, in my experience I never had a parent not eventually sign (and it never took very long), I think because as the rest of the class participates there is a combination of noting things seem OK, the class is engaged and motivated and that is intriguing and therefore wanting to be part of that.

  4. Deborah says:

    I do believe that this is an important point of discussion – I believe that this is a valid concern, that has not always been openly considered in the education system. I think that there is the possibility sometimes of quality control issues if there is too much group think about the rights of students and whether or not their work should be shared.

    I regularly integrate edtech in my classes and believe that this is an important discussion.

    I highly value the work of our children and believe that we should honour and respect any wishes parents may have about making it public. This is why we differentiate, honour student voice, have growth Mindsets and character education.

    Another question I have is, who else is affected by the openly published work of the students- are there legal or custody issues? Are educators openly sharing student work for their own personal gain and ‘klout’ ie., posting tech projects of students to twitter without permission? What exactly are the issues at play?

    We also have to be careful too regarding possible current and future legal issues.

    I would also love to hear from ie., Privacy Commissioner, FOIP, or have other experts perhaps weigh in on this issue. It is a great point of discussion and I would love to delve deeper!

    Thank you for sharing! You have me thinking!

    Brian – Thanks Deborah – Yes I think this issue trumps peoples opinion … we just might need some expertise here?

  5. Sue Waters says:

    I would be interested in finding out more about why the parent feels this way. I’ve had a teacher tell me that she had been advised that she couldn’t take photos of student’s art work because of copyright concerns. Intellectual property rights and blogging is more commonly a concern that used to be expressed by some Universities.

    Most researchers now recognize that collaboratively sharing their research online using social media enables them to innovate faster, and better, without necessarily losing their Intellectual property rights.

    Brian – Hi Sue – Yes, if the parent was one of mine I’d have that discussion. Also only weeks left in school year with classes that just started blogging so I suspect they’ll not rock the boat now and start over again next year. Their plan was to gain some experience here at the end of the year and then start off next year with new classes. I’ll let folks know how it goes … maybe the parent will relent soon.

  6. Brendon Ross says:

    Very, very interesting topic of discussion. I must admit that I am not too privy on the facts of IP but in all honesty I do not think that an elementary school student would be posting anything that would cause such a ruckus that IP needs to come into question.

    This sounds like a possible case of overprotective, or ignorant, parents that may not understand the exact logistics of writing and posting on the internet. Especially with a pseudonym being used, I do not see the problem.

    Very thought-provoking post and I will definitely have to read up on IP!

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