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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : Thoughts On Protecting My Children Online


Thoughts On Protecting My Children Online

Yesterday Luke was asking all sorts of questions about his "baby Wes" and we started to talk about how Luke was once a little, tiny baby. Tiny enough to fit in my belly! His face lit up and his eyes began to twinkle.

"Do you want to see pictures of yourself when you were a baby and in mommy's belly?" I asked him.

"YEAH!!!" he replied.

So, he sat in my lap and we scrolled through all of my old blog entries—all the way from having a baby bump, to the eensy-weensy newborn pictures, to the first time he started walking. In that moment, I realized I have captured so many incredible moments and firsts I would have otherwise brushed to the side in my mind, where they would collect cobwebs and become hazy memories. I am so grateful I have kept this blog and put the time and energy it takes to photograph all the moments and write out all the feelings.

However, there is a darker side to putting your life out there on the internet. Lately, so many of my blogging friends who are mothers have had their children's photos stolen and used for creepy, fake role-play accounts. And who knows what other hellish ways those photos are being warped and inappropriately used. I cannot even begin to let my mind go there.

But, all of this has me seriously contemplating where I stand on blasting photos of Luke and Wes onto the internet. I find so much joy in sharing our life—the tender and sweet times, and the frustrating, I-want-to-rip-my-hair out times. I love being able to be a voice for issues to which many mothers and women deeply feel and relate, but may be too afraid to say on their own.

Where do I draw the line? When do I pull the plug?

These are questions I ask myself every day. I have thought a grip load about how I can share those personal feelings and moment as a mother, but keep Luke and Wesley's life a little more secure and private. This is after all a mom blog, and obviously I am a mother because of them, but I feel like there is a way to keep the focus more about how I feel about this stage of motherhood, versus it being all about the boys' lives.

Am I making any sense? I feel like this is such a sticky subject of debate. There is the whole side of, "the world is full of ugliness and cruelty, and you shouldn't shelter yourself and your children because of it—share your life if that's what makes you happy and realize life needs to continue on and don't let the junk get to you." And then there is the opposing side of, "the world is too open now and it is your number one priority to make sure your children are not out there AT ALL if you care about them—you are a crap parent if you disagree."

You picking up what I am putting down here? I am so torn. Like I said, I love sharing our life, but the more these gross things happen the more inclined I am to put a halt on that aspect of it. There was a wonderful article written here about how to share your life while keeping your kid's protection in mind, and I really like the points that were made. I am trying to put them into practice and be more mindful of what types of pictures I post to Instagram and here on the blog. I absolutely refuse to post photos of them anymore where they are solely in their diaper or underwear, or without a shirt. I am trying to focus more on taking photos which only partially show their faces if they are the only one in the picture, and I really try to make it a point to be in the pictures with them if we are all smiling and looking at the camera. (Apparently those are less targeted?)

Either way, I care about their safety. I don't want them growing up with some weird complex or hating me for putting their lives out for the world to see without their permission. I am not going to stop blogging or make any hard and fast declarations about never posting another picture of my boys again. But I am going to be more careful about specific things I say about them and be more thoughtful of the pictures I do post of them. I feel good about that in my heart and know it is the right thing to do for our family.

So, I am curious about your thoughts on this. Are you a mom? Do you have nieces and nephews who are out there? How do you feel about children's pictures being shared on social media, even if it is just a private account? I am really interested to know the different viewpoints on this matter, so don't hold anything back! Let's talk about this. It's something that needs to be discussed!

Also, thank you for coming back here to read my blog again and again. I truly do cherish the friendships I have made with you and I love the happy side of this online community. There is much goodness to be shared! Thanks for supporting that. Lots of love and hugs to you, and you, and you!

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At April 24, 2015 at 7:13 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

I honestly didn't really know this was happening? Is there a way to see if its happening to you?? I guess I feel a little more safe since I'm pretty sure just my sister in law reads my blog, haha! I do have my instagram set to private, and I'll add anyone who asks if they don't look like a creeper and we have some friends in common. I'm not worried at all about my children being upset with my blog in the future, because I think how cool it would have been if my mom had a blog :)

At April 24, 2015 at 7:16 AM , Blogger Sarah Hartley said...

I have been struggling with this since day one of becoming a mom. Like you, I love sharing the moments with my little Henry, and more than that, I love sharing his photos so that we can look back on them together one day. I love having all of these memories stored for me. It's basically a baby album that I actually WANT to do. But I'm so afraid of him being targeted in some way and for putting him in harm's way. Now that he's getting older and starting to actually look like himself, rather than a baby (let's face it, most babies tend to look similar), it's making me more and more concerned.

And then on the other hand, I'm so proud to show this tiny person that I've created. Who is a part of me and a part of my husband.

If only there weren't creeps in the world....

xo, Sarah

At April 24, 2015 at 7:37 AM , Blogger Rebekah said...

I've been having the same debate since I had my first 7 months ago. I want to be able to blog about life with him and record those memories and even share them, but at the same time I don't want to subject him to the wiles of social media.

I think it's a really tough balance when you consider yourself a public figure. You need to be open and personal but at the same time protect your children. I'm just not sure how to find that balance!!


At April 24, 2015 at 11:04 AM , Blogger yours truly said...

That was a great article. I have struggled with the same issue. I love having a spot where I can get my ideas and feelings out and share photos of my family growing. I think we have to make smarter decisions as far as the type of photos we post, but know that whats on the internet can be accessed by anyone.


At April 24, 2015 at 5:00 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I've gone back and forth on this topic a million times. I think (like you said) I reasoned with it by saying that I would be very cautious about the pictures I post of my son and the details I give about him/our life. The biggest thing for me though is going the extra step to make sure that there is no GPS locator on any of my insta pics (or others) and I try to not ever show a place that could be pinpointed (name of restaurant, street signs, etc). From what i've seen, a lot of those weird role play accounts are just young girls overly interested in a particular blogger, being a mom etc.(NOT that is ok or not weird) but i'm far more worried about the people that DON'T make fake accounts but take/save pictures and do... God knows what with them. *shudder*

At April 25, 2015 at 12:24 AM , Blogger Joke said...

I'm not a mother yet, but because I want to have kids very soon I shut down my (albeit very small) blog. It was definitely one of the main reasons why I quit blogging. Yes, there is the safety aspect. I don't want to even risk pictures of my children falling into the wrong hands. But please don't forget about the privacy aspect too. I find it incredibly weird that I know so much intimate details of some of these big bloggers' kids' lives. When and where they were born, their full names, their siblings' names, their favorite color, favorite food, where they go on holiday, when they started potty training, embarrassing or funny stories about them and the list goes on and on. All these things I know just from following the parent's blog and Instagram. I find that horrifying and would never want that for my children. What happens when these children start getting older and their little buddies have access to the internet and see the pictures of them in their underpants with a funny potty training story underneath it or they start applying for college and later interviewing for jobs and their future employer can read all these (usually harmless) stories about them plastered all over the internet? I ask myself 'Would I want this for myself?'. The answer is a resolute NO. So I refuse to do that to my future children. So I quit blogging (one can still take pictures of their children and document their lives without an audience) and my Instagram is private plus I only allow followers I know in real life on there. So when the day comes I become a mom my children will enjoy complete privacy, as they deserve.

Just my two cents.

At April 25, 2015 at 7:38 AM , Blogger Anna Demko said...

Thank you so much Abbey! I loved reading your take on the issue. Ever since my son was born i have struggled with the issue of 'how much is too much'. There are bloggers out who lay it all out there. They just talk about their kids and life and breastfeeding issues and vaginas like it's no big deal. I'm not like that although i feel that those bloggers sometimes get most following because they are ao open. Although I want to protect my own privacy and my children's. I've never posted a picture of my son in underwear or told such a story they would be ashamed to let their friends read. Of course, I make it comical and stay true to to who i am while trying to be as discrete as possible. It's hard knowing how much evil is out there and what people can do. It's all about finding that balance and doing what you love in life.

At April 25, 2015 at 9:23 AM , Blogger Erin @ Love, the Campbells said...

i've been feeling the same way lately and i get so skeptical when i post pictures of addison. i try not to do it of her in just a diaper or shirtless. it's hard though because we live a few states away from our families so i want them to be able to come to instagram or the blog and catch up on her. dang sick people who take the fun out of sharing our babies on the internet!

At May 6, 2015 at 7:56 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I think the only way to know is if someone alerts you or you stumble upon it. Either way it is terrifying! And I like that outlook on the kids thoughts about the blog when they are older! It's good to think about both sides :)

At May 6, 2015 at 7:57 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Yes to all of this! Guess we just have to do what feels right in our hearts. Our mother's intuition will tell us when it's time pull back or not put something out there. xo

At May 6, 2015 at 7:58 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I am not either, and I appreciate your comment, Rebekah! Like I mentioned above, I think it is about finding that balance with which you are comfortable. Social media is such a weird, yet wonderful world!

At May 6, 2015 at 7:59 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I agree. Using that common sense is always the route to go. For me it's if I have a, "should I post this photo or tell this personal info about my kid?" moment where I hesitate, then the answer is no.

At May 6, 2015 at 8:00 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, being aware of the GPS and posting locations is a huge thing in protecting privacy! I completely agree. And like you said, a lot of times they are innocent fangirls, but you just never know! Best to just trust our judgment and be careful like you outlined! xo

At May 6, 2015 at 8:03 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I absolutely respect this viewpoint and agree with so many of the points you made, Joke. It is disturbing that every intimate detail of a child's life is broadcast for the world to access. And to be honest, I have never even looked ahead to the future of thinking how certain stories or experiences could impact their college admissions or employment, but that is such an important thing to remember. Thanks for bringing that to my attention and for your thoughtful comment! I really appreciate it.

At May 6, 2015 at 8:05 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I tend to lean on the side of oversharing, but I think the thing that matters is who you are oversharing about. My kids have no say in what I share about them and they might hate me for that when they are older. I, on the other hand, have the control to choose how much I share about my own issues, and even then I wonder what is too much, which then leads to another topic of where to draw the line in blogging! Overall, I agree about finding the balance and doing what you love. xo

At May 6, 2015 at 8:06 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I know! Those jerks! ;) But really, I think the precautions you are taking are wonderful ones, and you will know what is best for you and your family. xo


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