A new sort of Mom Guilt has settled in for me. Blogger Mom Guilt. I feel guilty about risking my children’s online privacy.
I started blogging so that I would have a creative writing outlet for myself and connect with other moms going through similar things in life. Being a “mom blogger” means talking about being a mom…which often means talking about my kids. But do I share too much about my kids online?
I made a conscious decision that my online presence would not include any photos with my kids’ faces. Safety was definitely part of my decision. After all, bullying and sexual abuse online are a real problem. My kids are currently 10 and 8. They aren’t really on the internet by themselves yet, but they will be. Just last week, my kids were playing Xbox Live with a family friend and a total stranger asked to be their “friend.” According to their profile picture, this was an adult man…asking to play Minecraft with children he doesn’t know. Apparently, when we renewed our Xbox Live account our settings inadvertently changed. Luckily, my kids told me right away and now the appropriate security settings are back.
I am an over-sharer by nature. Just ask me kids! I have always been pretty open about what I’m going through as a mom and what my kids are going through. It has served me well since they were babies. I have been able to connect with other moms who can relate and find a support system of parents that understand. I now have a wonderful little tribe of moms who are some of my best friends. We get it and we get each other because we share the hard stuff. But I know I need to treat the internet very differently. I want to share. I want to be open. But to what extent? At what point am I risking my children’s online privacy?
They Are Going to Read This!
This week my 13 year old goddaughter told me that she reads all of my blog posts. (Hi Sabs!) While I was flattered, my initial reaction was Uh oh. What did I share? Her mom assured me there was nothing to worry about. But it hit home in that moment that my kids will someday be reading my blog! How did I not think about this until now? They are young, they aren’t online and they don’t even know what a blog is. But as soon as they have the ability to Google my name or my blog, it’s possible that they will read all of it.
Is my youngest going to appreciate that I shared the details of his sensory meltdowns or that I called him “That Kid?” How will they feel about me sharing with the world why they lost screen time for a week? When does my right to share my life butt heads with their right to online privacy? I’m not sure how I would feel as a teenager if I discovered my mom sharing her innermost thoughts about parenting me…online…with The World!
How I Decide What to Share
I need to protect my children’s online privacy. Moving forward, I need to put on a different filter. Let’s call it my ‘Remember-Your-Kids-Will-Read-This’ Filter. I shouldn’t be writing and sharing anything I wouldn’t read out-loud to them. They don’t have to like everything I post, but I never want to embarrass them or shame them. If I wouldn’t say it over the loud speaker at Target…I probably shouldn’t post it online. I will continue to post minimal pictures of them. When I do, you won’t see their faces. And I need to make sure they have my consent to take the picture in the first place. When in doubt I’ll use a photo of something else, or myself.
Most of us didn’t grow up with the internet. I didn’t. But we’ve had an iPad in our house since the kids were toddlers. They are going to go through their teenage years and adulthood with constant access to everything online. It’s our job to keep them safe and teach them how to be safe online. But we also need to be careful about how much of our children’s lives we reveal online…for safety and for personal privacy.
How do you protect your children’s online privacy? How do you decide what to share? I would love to hear from you.