Our children on the internet.

Let's talk about our children and their presence on the internet.

The year 2012 is such a different age to be raising kids, no? We're all so intricately and oddly joined together by blogs, social networking sites and the internet that learning of personal announcements via facebook or twitter is the norm -- especially in my life.

I wanted to get pregnant. I wrote about my fertility issues on my blog. I wrote about when I found out I was pregnant on my blog. I wrote about what it was like to be pregnant on my blog. I wrote about when I got pregnant the second time on my blog. I wrote about the births of both of my daughters (Lila here, Vivienne here) on my blog and shared their birth announcements on facebook. I believe I tweeted when I was in labor, too. (Did I? I can't remember.)  I've written about the girls' first years of life up until the present on my blog, too.

I get it.

Still, I think we must respect the simple truth that what we share on the internet lives forever.

Forever.

And right now my concern is for the children of the digital age.

At what point do we stop posting photos of them on our blogs, on facebook, on instagram in an effort to both protect them and respect them?

Some bloggers support their families by writing about them. (This isn't a new concept -- writers and journalists have been doing this for years. Anyone remember Erma Bombeck?) Some bloggers watermark their photos to protect their children from being exploited by others. And there are some who have never so much as uttered the real names of their children; instead they've been using pseudonyms in yet another attempt to protect them.

Me?
I've recently started watermarking my photos, but I also use my daughters real names and show images of them and tell stories about them frequently.

Is this ok? 

When I first started Two Pretzels years ago, the only others I had to worry about were my husband, Craig (who I used to refer to as just, "C") and our English bulldog, Nattie. (She was so wonderful.) And, before I'd write about Craig in a particular post, I'd ask for his permission. (I still do this today.)

But as for my daughters, Lila and Vivienne?  I've never asked their permission since they're, well... toddlers.

[insert contemplative look here.]

Since they can't yet offer me their permission to share about them on my blog, should I?

I often ask myself this question: Am I oversharing? At what point am I encroaching on their territory by telling their story?


On my blog it's true that I am telling my story. But the confusion; the grey area is that their story is also my story, at least rght now.

I need to be respectful of them.

Each post I write, each photo I post -- I've thought about.

You will never see a bathtub photo of my children.  You will never see them nude in any way, shape or form on my blog, on my facebook account or on my instagram account. EVER.

Posting a snapshot of a naked infant bathing in a tub is one thing -- posting a photo of a naked 3-year-old little girl is inappropriate online. I don't even like seeing cute little naked baby butts online.

There, I said it.

I cannot handle seeing naked photos of children online for so many reasons. 
 
First and foremost: HELLO? Let's remember the creepers out there... the pedophiles and the pervy folks who like to see small children naked -- why give them an invitation to look at your child?

Secondly, to reiterate -- the technology factor of our world today is such that our children; the spawn of all of us with blogs, facebook accounts and instantgram accounts, will have a digital footprint that starts with BIRTH.

That's something you or I reading this will never have to deal with. Our parents didn't take hundreds of photos at just one birthday party on their digital camera and then immediately post them online. Nope, they took about 12. Maybe 3 made it into a family photo album that stayed in the safety of our home.

Oh, times... they have done changed.

If my child's future employer searches long enough, I never want him or her to run across a photo of my child naked in her pool. Instead, it's my responsibility to protect my children's presence on the internet for today and the future. 



The interweb lasts forever.
 
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While I don't have a definitive timeline as to when I will curb my writing about my girls; I am cognizant of it. I will continue to be thoughtful and respectful of what I share keeping in mind one basic question:

"How would I feel if my Mom posted this, or wrote that, about me and then shared it with the entire universe?"

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What are your thoughts on this?


Photobucket
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17 comments:

  1. Heather (Chicago Mom)5:30 AM, September 17, 2012

    Honestly I think you might be over thinking this but you have to do what feels right in your gut. What I write about my children I would not mind them reading (when they can read). In fact my blog is my legacy to them. If I should suddenly die (God forbid), they would know exactly what I was thinking and feeling watching them grow up. I don't sugar coat things either. I want them to know how much I love them and that it wasn't always easy, but that is life.

    As for creeps out there and bath tub photos. I am guilty of posting many of them when they were younger. But I never showed butts or private parts and always cropped those out. I did put a photo of Keira recently skinny dipping in Lake Michigan but she's completely in shadow. You wouldn't know if she were wearing a suit or not.

    I think the internet is over-saturated with mom blogs and no one really cares as much we think they do. Including our kids?

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  2. I know a lot of bloggers struggle with this question and it always comes up at any blog conference. There's definitely a divide - some bloggers have no problem using real names and posting pics of their kids (I'm one of them) and others use fake names or initials and still posts pics and then others are completely against it. And then I've met moms who are bloggers (ack, the term "mommy blogger" is awful) who have purchased their child a domain name already..and the kids are still in preschool.

    My 2 cents is this: my blog is about my life - and since being a mom is a HUGE part of my life - it's a bit difficult to not mention the kids in my blog. Heck, I even have a blog that is just about the two kids (granted it's not been updated in YEARS, but it's still out there). I say do what you feel comfortable doing and don't let anyone else judge you for your choices. It's your blog. You make the rules.

    :)

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  3. I have thought about this A LOT. Really, a lot. I think it is important for all of us to be aware of what and how we share our stories. I like what you shared and your awareness of the issues that could arise. (You know the story behind why I began watermarking my pictures). I often contemplate this question when I think about the future of my blog. Where it may go and if I will continue it long term.

    I agree with the other comments. I see my blog as a gift to my family. Not just my kids, but family that live far away. I tell my story and of course, my kids are a large part of my story. Someday, the blog will take a different turn as I adjust to the stages of life my kids are in. Similar to you, I do my best not to share anything that I personally would not like to be shared of my own life. In all reality, though, the story is my story. . . the journey through motherhood, identity, and figuring out the path before me. I wish I knew my mom's story. . . maybe that is why I feel so compelled to write. I have this dream in my heart that one day my kids will say. . . thank you for the time you took to document our story. . .

    I could talk about this forever. Would you like to come over for coffee. . . or coke? :)

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  4. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I stopped blogging altogether. The internet does last forever and do I feel confident that what I post today I won't mind people seeing in the future? I'm not sure. I'm just kinda private like that. With strangers. Also, it's WAY too tempting to vent & get myself in trouble. Also, do people even care about my life? Eh, probably not many people. The biggest reason I stopped blogging, though? I'm lazy. :)

    I completely agree with your concerns above though. I don't think you are inappropriately posting about your girls and I know that you are restrained and thoughtful about what you post on your blog. I also think there are a lot of peeps out there who way over-share, to the point where it might be dangerous one day. It's all about awareness and responsibility and thinking about the not-so-decent folks out there... as much as we would rather not.

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  5. I am struggling with this right now. And as you can see, I have a pic of my child on the left.

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  6. I have four kids. Two are babies, and two are school aged.


    I no longer post photos of my school aged kids or tell stories about them that I wouldn't want their friends/teachers/etc to see. if I do post a pic of the big kids? I've asked them first. I make sure they're okay with it, because I allow them that respect in all other aspects of our lives, why wouldn't I do the same online?


    As a photographer, I watermark because I don't like people stealing my images. It's happened to marking me several times, and watermarking helps me track. While I share a lot online, and have been blogging for over six years, I'm also very careful about what I post. I never talk about my husband, because his job requires that he has no internet presence. I don't talk about my kids' friends, or teachers, because it's not my place to do so.


    I don't talk about my extended family, except in passing reference. Their stories aren't mine to tell.


    I feel like I'm able to document everything I want to, without sharing what I don't. Maybe I'm disillusioned, but I've been doing this long enough that I think I've got my boundaries decently set.

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  7. Thank you so much, Jess. I love hearing your perspective. I loving seeing an example of boundaries at work. I'm glad it all works so well! (Thanks for reading and commenting!)

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  8. i don't have children, so i can barely put myself in your (or any parent's) shoes. i do know that you seem to have a good/appropriate line in place. you balance enough sharing with the fact that it would be NEARLY impossible to have a blog that does not include your girls in some way. it's like an in-between of 100% sharing of your life and making pictures and stories available to your family and friends and sharing nothing at all. sure, it's public so therefore you have to take other precautions, which i think you are doing a fine job of. i know this: if i didn't have your blog to read, as your friend, i would be missing out on the things you share and it does help me to know what's going on (in general) and i check it daily. i want to keep up with your and your family's life.

    it's like identity theft: it can happen in a million ways, so i'm not worried about purchasing something online; i've purchased a MILLION things online with no issues. There are a hundred things that could go "wrong" with blogging, but as long as you are mindful as your ladies grow and progress and keep objectively assessing where things stand, it will likely be okay and have the positive results that you intention the blog to have.

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  9. I hear you, Rachel. It's definitely a vast world full of complexities. Having your FB preferences not be a certain way could mean that many more people are seeing details of your life than what you had originally preferred. Oy.

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  10. I agree on the over-sharing, my friend. Some folks are chronic over-share-ers. It's odd.

    And, in all honesty? I miss your blog. It made me laugh.

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  11. YES! I will be there in a half an hour! I'll bring the coke!

    (Oh, how I wish that was true - that we were just two minutes away from one another.)

    You know, I love the perspective you offer regarding having this blog as a gift to your children. I'm with you, too. l I think that perhaps my ladies will want to one day look back and read what I thought; what I liked; who I was.

    My Mom kept a leather-bound calendar for all of 1979 -- the year of my birth. And she wrote random things in it: birthday party, doctor's appointment, whatever. Even though it's only a one-sided glimpse into her daily schedule, with the occasional personal note here or there, I treasure it. It's my view into her life.

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  12. I'm nodding in agreement, traci. You're so right. Our blogs, we make the rules. And, it's hard to write about life when you are a Mom that EXCLUDES your children.

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  13. I love the notion of a blog as a legacy to your children. I think it's so important. Nor, have I thought that you've ever crossed the line photo-wise! I just want to constantly be aware of what exactly I'm putting out there... you know?

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  14. P.S. I purchased both of my girls' domain names a while back... :) I'm that Mom.

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  15. I've been thinking about putting watermarks on my photos as well. Just because I think it may be time. I have always shown a bit of restraint on my blog, meaning: I keep it positive, for the most part, and I don't blog about super sensitive issues and I never blog about work or about family relations, although I've wanted to many times, just to vent! I did write about a bunch of sensitive stuff (when we went through IVF) but I did it as a way to get the story out there hoping perhaps some other woman like me would read it and be assured or have hope. Anyway.


    I've been more hesitant to blog lately. I've been questioning, "do I REALLY want to share that online?" More times than not, my answer is no. I haven't been blogging as regularly because of that. My kids know I have a blog, and when I was sharing the story about Lydia's tip-toe walking I asked her specifically if it was OK if I took her picture and wrote about her. She said yes, but, she did ask me why. I told her I was writing her story so that other kids and other mommies could read it. She was interested in the fact that my blog was a way to share her story - we have talked a couple times about it since.
    I obsessively google search my first and last name and my kids first and last names to be sure that they never come up in association with my blog. When I do see something I delete it. So far I haven't had any issues but it does worry me knowing that so many photos are just ... out ... there ...
    I worry about the moms who post photos of themselves breastfeeding their children. I get it, I totally get it and I totally support breast feeding, but, it makes me wonder if those kids will be OK with those photos when they are older? Same thing with the nekked kid shots! Agree with you on that point.
    So much to think about!

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  16. I think this is a great discussion, and you are right...something previous generation of parents haven't really had to deal with and therefore we don't know what is always right or what the consequences will be for our kids.


    How much is too much and when should we stop?


    Ugh, not sure.


    I know, personally, I am very aware of what I put out there. I remember the beginning of the year I emailed you and MD about a bath picture I posted that my parents (and later found out Terry) didn't like that I posted it. It didn't show anything but after talking to you guys I did crop it. I now keep those pictures to myself.


    I am sure there will come a time when Henry gets older that I will limit how much I post about him. I am not sure exactly when that will be, but I hope as a parent I will know. You know that feeling were for a split second you think "eh, I probably shouldn't"....it will be then.


    I keep my blog as a journal and a way to keep track of how I feel and what is going on in my life. But with that, it is public which means I can't be truly honest or post everything I would like to post. So I don't. Besides, does anyone besides T & I really want or even NEED to see naked pictures of Henry...NO. So I will just keep posting occasional updates of him and watch what pictures I put out there. I will keep things vague and I will try to protect him as much as I can.


    besides....do we really need to over-share EVERYTHING?! NO. Some things should be left private or between close friends and family. We don't need to put everything out there or think people want to hear and see everything. This is why I am not a fan of twitter, FB and instagram because I feel it is SO easy to share photos from phones and perhaps SOME people (this is NOT everyone) may quickly share a photo just taken that may not be appropriate before they really think about whether they should share it or not. I know a couple times I have wanted to post a photo. But I have to email it to myself and then save it then upload it and occasionally I have realized after the excitement of taking the photo is gone, I don't want to put it out there and it isn't appropriate. But there is no filter, unless we are aware of it, to stop some people from putting things out there. You seriously see it all the time on twitter and FB and you ask....did you think before you posted that?!


    Again, great post and I think what you are putting out there is the right amount! Not too much, not inappropriate, and I don't think any of it would come back to the kids!! :)

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