Gossip, anger and attitude have long defined teenage communication, extending their tendrils through passed notes and meandering telephone calls as teens hash out happenings both mundane and profound in their lives: a friend's detention, a glance from a cute girl, worries about an impending college application, a crush on an apparently oblivious guy.
But with ever-greater access to the Internet, those conversations are occurring ever-more publicly as a growing number of teenagers create blogs, or web logs, and other online forums -- and more of their friends read and respond to those journal entries. While Instant Messaging on the tiny screen of a cell phone is still popular, in the past year or so, many teenagers have come to prefer the unlimited space of a blog.
This "blogosphere," experts say, has an estimated 2 million to 4 million personal journals, with kids ages 13 to 19 maintaining about half of them.
A majority of those teenagers -- from 53 percent to 67 percent, depending on the estimate -- are girls, according to David Huffaker of Northwestern University, who researches the development of online youth communities, including blogs.
In taking on the Web-posting habits of their children, parents are picking what can be a thorny fight. Personal Web pages for the preadolescent and teenage set seem to have become as common as diaries and locker decorations once were.
Of the world's approximately 38 million "blogs," or self-published Web pages, 52.8 percent belong to those age 19 or younger, according to survey data from the Perseus Co., a maker of Web-surveying software. By year's end, the firm expects the total number of blogs on the Web to reach 53.4 million.
As technology-savvy youths enlist computers in the timeless teen quest to establish identity, some adults feel the stakes are too...