Thursday, February 25, 2016

Parenting Choices - What do you share online?

Today Ashlen and I are sharing our differing opinions on sharing our kids' names and faces on the blog, Facebook, etc.  Like so many parenting topics, there is a lot of passion and emotions involved in the topic of online exposure.  There are a few big issues that are important to me, but other than the biggies, I'm more of a 'you do you' kinda person.  For example, I worry about microwaving plastics so all of our leftover food containers are glass, but if you're all about rubbermaid or tupperware, that's fine!  You make the decisions that are best for you and your family, I make the best for me and mine.  While Ashlen and I may not fully agree on this (or other!) topics, we 100% agree that the other is making the best choice for their family.

Lauren's View:

In my few posts about my insanely awesome Bonus-Daughter, I haven't shared her name or face.  Don't get me wrong, it is a super cute face!   But I've blurred, obscured, or cropped out her face from the photos I've shared here, choosing not to identify her on the blog.  Sure, it wouldn't quite take CSI-level sleuthing to figure out her identity, but our blog Terms of Use hopefully encourages people from sharing.  I'd like to take this post to share why I'm not sharing her identity on the blog.

  • She's sixteen.  Remember sixteen?  Not exactly the easiest of the teenage years.  I'm just grateful social media wasn't around when I was in high school!  Her peers (friendly and otherwise) could easily find the blog, read posts about our personal trips, etc.  How awkward could it be if her classmates or teachers tried to chat up about the specific snacks we had on our road trip last spring break?  
  • Hopefully she'll have a summer job this year, and so many employers search social media before hiring anyone.  Her social media presence should probably reflect her, not her wicked stepmother.
  • Stranger Danger.  One of my secret talents is to worry about EVERYTHING.  As in, home alarm with panic button, iPhone's Find My Friend's activated, etc.  If sharing her identity welcomed any unwanted attention from some crazy person, it would be really hard to remove her presence online, ya know?
  • I'm not her mom.  I love this kid like crazy, and have known her since she was six, but if her mom wants to blog her identity all day and night, that's between her and her mom and dad.
Would my opinion change if I had a child?  Hard to say.  I LOVE seeing photos Ashlen's crew's adventures, but totally respect a close friend who has zero photos of their son online.  Would I use a nickname?  or just not show their face?  Maybe only show their face for the first few years until grade school?  I can't really put myself in that mindset, ya know?  IF that were to happen, I think my husband and I would figure out an approach that works for us.  In the meantime, I stand by my decision for what to share and not share for my Bonus Daughter, and respect the opinions of anyone who feels otherwise.

Ashlen's View:

As everyone knows, I show my children's faces on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I share their stories and stories about me parenting them. I know it may be shocking, but I don't share absolutely everything about them. Embarrassing stories, their schools, and I absolutely will not show any daycare child's faces (unless cleared by their parent(s)). I have a few reasons for my "being an open book" status:

  • This blog is a joint venture. Not just between Lauren and I, but also our families. My kids take part in the activities, photo shoots, and story ideas. I ask THEIR permission before I tell a certain story or share any picture. If they weren't okay with it, I wouldn't think twice about not posting something. My kids and I talk a lot about everything. I'm not sure how much of everything they understand at seven, five, and three, but they understand enough to tell me what a blog is and what we're doing for the blog.
  • I view the blog as not only an opportunity for me, but for them as well. As they get older I fully intend to let them write blog posts and whatever else they'd like to take part in. My kids are creative and I think it's pretty cool that we can share creative outlets for now. We wrote a book together, they give me blog post ideas, they ask to take pictures and do things for the blog. I mean, how many kids can search for themselves on Amazon and be listed as authors??? 
  • Am I worried about Stranger Danger? Yes of course! Luckily, I think we've got some pretty fantastic readers who have yet (and hopefully don't) make things feel creepilicious. Also, I've got Lauren to look over my posts to make sure we don't divulge too much personal info such as where the kids attend school. our home address (yes, I nearly accidentally gave this away in a post! Oops!), etc. 
  • Will my opinion change as my kids get older? Possibly and their's might too. I already feel some of the content that happens in my home isn't content appropriate for the blog. Not because it's inappropriate, but because I highly doubt it's something my children are going to want to see on the internet when they're sixteen. I try to keep that in mind.

If there ever comes a time when my kids ask me to stop telling their personal stories (and there's been a few so far) or taking their pictures, I will stop everything, have a discussion with them, and respect their wishes. My mindset at the moment is 'we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.' For now, we're thoroughly enjoying all of the adventures the blog offers us and the numerous opportunities, and the support we get from our audience.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Whatever your decision is on this subject, we trust that we are doing what is best for you and your family just as we are.