The internet is rife with a proliferation of parent bloggers. And I am one of them.
Are we oversharing parents? Are our children safe?
You launched a blog, it may have been created after months of plans and lists, considerations and concept maps. Or, like me, you may have had a glass of wine one evening and clumsily word vomited all over WordPress.
As I scroll down the screen images of my sons sweet smile gaze back at me, as do the faces of other people’s children. Happy, crying, sitting on the supermarket floor screaming. There they are. Through the blogsphere we share our lives, the pretty and the difficult. Are parent bloggers selfish?
My words may be honest, raw but never regretted.
A birthday, a difficult night, a first tooth, a joyful moment. They all find themselves on my page.
I skirt round the suggestion that we are being narcissistic in sharing information about ourselves, our families and our world, online. It has been suggested to me and it may be the case. But in a social world of tweets, likes and updates I have found expression and connection, community. Comfort. People can choose not to read what you write; family, friends and strangers on the opposite side of the world.
To post or not to post?
Little M, baby 1, smallest one. Some parents use a pseudonym for their children. Should I only show my child from the back, his face in shadow? Should I have never have started blogging in the first place? Am I putting my son at risk? Some will feel yes and others no. We all made different choices.
As a qualified social worker whose specialism is online harm, you would think I would be running away from the laptop to live in a cave, on a desert island. But I don’t. Awareness does make me cautious. Cautious because of the search terms used to find my blog, trolls, hacks, impersonation accounts. Stories of images being lifted and used on inappropriate websites. When does a harmless comment troll, change to a cyber-nuisance, to a concerning threat maker?
There may be a dark side to blogging. Would my family be more protected without being exposed on social media? Perhaps. What protection is there out there for bloggers who are floating in between profession and parent? It is a job for many but is it a job where we will be supported? By laws, by rules, by copyright?
Leo’s digital footprint.
When I write about my son I make sure that I try not to share any details that will cause him distress or offence, which would negatively impact how I am perceived as a mother. The lines are fine in wanting to give an earnest portrayal of parenthood and all the associated challenges. That said, I have cussed and talked about how he threatened to poo in his Spiderman onesie previously.
Who did you start blogging for, your kids, yourself, others? I did it for all three.
There are incidents of children suing parents for posting images. When does their right to privacy trump a parent’s desire to share? If Leo gets to the age of eighteen and asks me to wipe my blog, I will. But for now the decision to publish is mine and I try and do it as mindfully as possible.
Blog with a solid appreciation of the risks in sharing information in the public domain. Share only what you are comfortable to share. Consider disclosures and safety, of hiding school logos, last names and personal information. Use Whoishosting to check your details have been left out of lists. Keep software up to date, change passwords regularly, back up content and use website security tools.
There are reasons to blog anonymously, if you wish to write for you, are not wishing to build traffic you can block your visibility to search engines.
The world has risks both on and offline. Harm can be done without the internet. I parent my social media as I parent my son. I realise the world has changed. At 30 years old I feel too young to admit it but it’s true. Mobiles came into mainstream as I hit secondary school, and now teenagers are becoming millionaires via Youtube. Leos life will be digital.
Do I have second thoughts as a blogger, no. Do I agree with the perception that as bloggers we don’t take our children safety seriously? No, we do.
I can stand aside from this bright world of emoji’s and apps or I can be an empowered part of it, and understand the dangers, make informed choices and educate my son. Blogging also brings opportunity to my family.
This is not an ‘I am right or wrong’ post, more a greyspace. An acknowledgement of my concerns and considerations. Where do you stand on safety, on sharing your lives online? Do your families or partners opinions differ to your own?
I love this… I think my little mans name can be found in my ‘About Me’ page but I don’t include it in my posts… I love photography so I use that a lot in my posts but I would never post any images other than gorgeous, happy ones that hope to inspire and empower. When I write about a bathing sensitive or ‘ranty’ i tend to do this imageless. #stayclassymama
It’s a really interesting topic of discussion. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I naturally felt reticent about sharing pics of my daughter or mentioning her name. Seeing so many others living so transparently and looking comfortable, I have softened a bit recently and share a bit more than before.
Ultimately, I’m aware that I’m creating a digital footprint for my daughter before she’s able to make that choice herself. So I try to be careful to only post stuff that she would (in my judgement) look back on favourably in the future.
With our lives becoming so interconnected and technology so prevalent, I’m not even sure we can make a definite distinction between the digital and real world anymore. Our kids are growing up in a world much different to when we were children, but then wasn’t it ever thus?
Really enjoyed reading your post.
It does make me think about what I share about my family. It’s good to do that now and again and have a good look at what is out there. I hope that how I have approached it is good enough for me and mine. I see so many different ones where it makes me raise my eyebrows a bit with the oversharing but then…..each to their own.
Great post and something that I think about every time I post.I am no where near as able as you to monitor all the stuff you mentioned so I just don’t do any pics at all.I’m just not as confident in how to protect them.#StayClassyMama
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, you pretty much read my mind tbh. I work in education, I drill it into kids not to over share, do they know their privacy settings etc. Then I plaster us as a family all over social media. I think it’s about informed decisions and judgement. Great post ?? X
My little one hasn’t popped out yet, so I blog mostly about TTC and being pregnant. I’m not sure yet if the blog will morph into a mummy blog in a few months time, it probably will as my research and interests will naturally move on, but this has reminded me to be mindful of what I choose to share about my growing family in the future. Thanks hun! #stayclassymama
I’ve chosen the route of no names, and no faces of the kids and mostly me. Only on the odd occasion will my mug pop up! I try to be very aware and careful. Hopefully it will all be OK! #stayclassymama ?
Of coure it’s important to protect our family’s privacy by not posting anything that would allow potential predators to find us. I think we’re all mindful of that. As far as making sure my daughter doesn’t one day feel embarassed by what I write, I keep my blogging completely seperate from my life. Nobody in my life, other than my husband, knows that this blog exists. If Peachy wants to tell the world one day, I leave it up to her. Otherwise, it will be our little secret until the end of time. #StayClassyMama
whoops meant to add #stayclassymama
This is a great post, I agree about the greyspace. I post pics of my kids online but only refer to them by their shortened names. I have friends on fb who have never posted a single pic of their kids online, and others who regularly post pics of their 6yr old daughter naked in the bath. For me, that one is a big no-no. But I also feel nothing at all is a little extreme. I think the future truly is digital, there is no hiding from it, so as you said, embrace it but be safe and be educated.
Ah, this is such a conflicting argument! I think you’ve covered it pretty well, and I agree that it ahs to in part come down to personal choice… Personally, I am very aware that I choose to share my kids first names but not our surnames, and I have often wondered if even sharing their first names is a step too far. Like you, I wouldn’t dream of sharing nursery/school names or logos, but it’s such a hard argument to have with yourself. I think I have come to the conclusion that it’s a bit like the local alleyway. I will happily walk down it during the day, but wouldn’t dream of going near it at night. Some people think I’m crazy for going near it at any time of the day, but I say I want to get to where it leads; if I want to get there at night I’ll take a longer, safer route, but right now I think it’s ok. It’s about finding the balance of caution. #StayClassyMama
I think everyone has their own opinions, we may be judged by son but as long as we have given it consideration it is our choice and our children’s later xx
I try not to use personal details or location but like you say, it wouldn’t take a genius to work it out. I like to think that my little is safe and appreciates my blogging though #stayclassymama
Wondered whether to read this and where it was going to go as I have doubted myself recently around a lot of these issues but so glad I did and pleased that someone is on the same page as me. Great read, thank you!
Interesting read. I started blogging about special needs but found it hard to write about and live so changed to gardening and cooking. My children feature only via made up names but that is my choice and every blogger makes a careful decision what they share but must be thought about carefully #stayclassymama
Most definitely a gray area. I don’t post about my kids because I’m a bit of a hypochondriac with a mean case of anxiety. So I don’t post out of fear. It’s sad that I feel that way. Ugh. Adulting is hard.
I agree that this is a huge grey area, but I believe that one can be too cautious. Whether online or in real life horrible things happen, we just have to take care along the way. #stayclassymama
Questions I ask myself often while blogging too… is this too much information? Will it put my family at risk? But I don’t give out real names/ locations/ pictures (at least not my son’s face) so it’s best to take precautions and do what one is comfortable with. It’s sad that we have to think like that but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
I think this was one of the reasons I delayed blogging. But after careful consideration and discussion with my husband I started to blog. I, like you, blog with an honesty and truth and not with rose coloured glasses but I am careful as to how far I go so that they won’t be embarrassed when they are older.
I have shared first names but not surnames. If I’m on social media I remove location tags so it doesn’t come up.
Pictures are carefully chosen so that they aren’t embarrassing or highlight where I live.
I think that as long as you’re careful it’s ok. And like you’ve said the world in which they live is a digital one.
I literally lie awake at night thinking about this. I keep wondering whether to wipe my blog and start again, being different with the way he’s talked about. I’ve never used his full name, I keep our family name away from it too. But it does worry me. Like you’ve said though, if he reaches his teens and decided he doesn’t want it to be there anymore, I’ll take it all down. #stayclassymama
An interesting post that will certainly make people think. My girls are 12, 14, 16 and 17 and I often blog about them. They enjoy reading my blogs, but if I feel a post may be sensitive, I get them to read it first and give me the ok. They hate me using their photos and they are heavily vetted before I’m allowed to use! If they’ve grabbed my phone and spammed it with selfies though, my rule is that’s legitimate blog fodder 🙂 Alison x #StayClassyMama
I share my sons name now, but not very often, and photo wise I try to not show his face on or embarrass him.
And this line makes you my favourite person: “Or, like me, you may have had a glass of wine one evening and clumsily word vomited all over WordPress.” xx #StayClassyMama
when I started blogging I never showed my son’s face but that soon changed because I had a public instagram account which has tons of his photos and family photos anyways. I think some people think that you’re being reckless with your child’s safety but no one has a clue how hard most pbloggers work to keep somethings private and keep their little ones safe.
I have to share this xx
As a blogger who drank a little to much wine and just did it I didn’t consider any of the negative implications before starting my blog my children’s names and faces are all over my blog and I’ve had a few people tell me to be careful but it’s my life and I want to write about it., the biggest part of my life being my boys. I would hate to knowingly put any of us in danger and I get anxious thinking about it. I am conscious of what images I use and how my boys will portray what I write when they’re old enough to read it. I like the grey space idea. Great article.
Just popping back from #stayclassymama. I love how this post addresses an important issue that we all think about a lot – we’re all struggling to get that balance between oversharing and not sharing enough right.
I often worry about the impact on my kids but the moment either of them are upset by it I will remove all content.
A great blog theoarentingjunge. You are right as long as you are aware of the dangers and keep a close eye on them its a happy balance. I tend to go down the changing names and not showing faces idea, perhaps because my blog is quite local. My husband is also pathologically shy lol x
I ask myself about this a lot. I used to share more pictures of the Popple when she was a baby, but now that she’s older, I feel less comfortable with it and have more concerns about leaving her with a digital footprint that she didn’t ask for. I use a pseudonym for her and never use our surnames, but I am very open about the city that we live in and discuss it on the blog. It’s really hard to find the right balance – a blog needs to share a certain amount of your life in order to be engaging, but you should never share more than you’re comfortable with.
It does concern me and so I post mindfully as you said. I haven’t posted anything about the kids that could be embarrassing. Of course teens can get embarrassed about anything and I will just have to wait to see if there is anything they are unhappy with but during the interim I kind of see it as I’m blogging for me, about my experience as a parent so anything I write comes from that perspective which then is personal to me which has it’s own value. I have to give that due respect as the joy of expression I have found through blogging is a very important thing in itself. I do the things you have said here like not mentioning schools etc. It gives me comfort that you have that background and are still blogging. 🙂
I agree with the grey space idea – I’m conflicted in so many areas around this. I don’t share my children’s names, but if you have my name then you wouldn’t have to investigate very far to get theirs. I don’t name their childcare setting but I publish lots of photos of them and a lot of those are tagged with our location. It’s very very tricky and this one made me think xx