My husband and I have had serious discussions regarding efforts we can take to protect our child’s (and future children’s) privacy online. I have a high level of respect for parents who decide that their children will have absolutely no online presence (pictures, names, etc). However, with today’s technology, it’s pretty much next to impossible to do this. Even if you have discussions with family and friends about the level of online presence your child will have, there are still things you can’t control. For instance, today on my Facebook newsfeed were various instances of pictures of my friends’ children playing in public places. As these parents captured (and consequently shared) pictures of their own child, other children were also captured in the images. With social media and phones with cameras, it’s next to impossible to completely shelter your family from having an online presence. Even if you do not engage in social media platforms, other people do, and it’s difficult to control that.
I think every parent should have discussions with their partner to set mutually agreed upon guidelines about what efforts can be made to protect their children’s privacy. Even before getting pregnant, I had already done some serious thinking and taken precautions for myself in the last couple of years. With my line of work (especially when I was working on the front line with victims of human trafficking), I make every effort to keep my address and other personal information private.
These are some precautions Mark and I are taking for our family:
- On this public blog, we are going to try to keep our child’s name private. I have mixed feelings about this since her name has been mentioned on my Facebook (though I try to keep my account private from those who I am not friends with), and I’m not 100% sure what danger having her name public will be… But for the time being, Mark and I have decided that we will try this as I continue blogging and see how it feels. So, on this blog, I will be referring to my little girl as A.J. (and we would ask our friends and family who do know her name to refrain from posting it in any comments on this blog).
- We will not be posting about our family’s routine (i.e. where we have signed up for swimming lessons, posting about where we are vacationing and when before it has happened, etc.)
- We are keeping pictures to a minimum on social media. This is difficult because, if I can say so myself, my kid is incredibly adorable! (I’m biased, I know…). We are conscious of the pictures we do post: no bath pictures, naked baby pictures, or pictures that she will come to resent us for in the future. Will our kids like every picture posted? Maybe not… But I also aim to raise our kids to become individuals with a sense of humour…
- I am also conscious of what stories I post and will refrain from sharing issues that she will come to resent me for in the future. Does that mean I won’t post anything embarrassing? No way…
(FYI, it turned out that a poop was not imminent…. It wouldn’t come for another couple of days… Needless to say, my squeamish hubby changed her diaper with his shirt pulled up over his nose.)
So, friends and family, please don’t be offended if I delete any comments of yours which disclose personal information about my family that I do not necessarily want to disclose; I hope that you will respect this.
I want this blog to be of help to other parents just like I’ve received information and help from other blogs and forums I’ve read. Sometimes to be of help, stories and experiences need to be shared. That being said, I am conscious about what is made public about my family. A couple of articles and blog posts informed my decision making. I really love the quote from this article by Lisa Belkin who blogs for the New York Times.
“At what point do parents lose their right to their children’s tales? When do things stop being something that happened to ‘me’ and start being something that happened to ‘them,’ and therefore not ‘mine’ to tell?”
I also appreciate the conscious efforts this blogger has made regarding writing about his family.
My blog is a public blog. I blog because it’s an outlet for me. I blog because I have benefited from others who blog, and I hope that I can be to others what my favourite bloggers are to me. And while all these reasons for why I write are for me and not necessarily for the benefit of my child/ren, I do acknowledge that one day my kids will be able to Google (or whatever search engine they’ll use when they’re older!) their names. What will pop up? Will it be something that can harm them? Embarrass them? Have an impact on their careers, relationships or other aspects of their personal lives? These questions will be running through my mind with every picture and story I post.