Am I violating my kids’ privacy?  If you blog as much as I do that’s a thorny problem.  I set an insanely challenging blog schedule for myself so that I could have motivation and goals to accomplish something.  When I’m stumped about what to write I fall back on what happened today.  Or yesterday.  There’s certainly enough fodder in our daily lives to provide entertainment for everyone.

I write about my kids, and some of it is cringe-inducing.  Mr. Genius asked the other day if I thought the kids would want to read my posts when they’re older.  I told him they would probably be too embarrassed, but he thought they might be interested and proud of me.  And if the unthinkable happened, it might be the only thing from me that they have (holding back the tears, sheesh!)

Anyway.  How much is too much?

I read this article about a 18-year old woman in Austria suing her parents for refusing to remove nude photos of her as a child on Facebook (first, hello Facebook, child porn?)  While a lawsuit seems a bit drastic I completely sympathize with the girl.  Who wants nude photos of you as a kid roaming around the web?  How unsettling that must be, and how scary knowing that images on the internet take on a life of their own.

I would never post nude photos of my kids on the internet.  Heck, I would never take them in the first place (yup, even when they were babies we were super careful taking pictures.  Nude isn’t cute – it’s trouble waiting to happen.)

I do post about medical stuff.  The challenges and triumphs of dealing with 2e.  I post pictures on the blog, and even more on my photography blog (those always have a huge watermark for copyright consideration.)  I probably post more than I should.

There’s a fine line between being honest and saying too much.  I want to respect my kids’ privacy now, as well as 20 years later when they’re adults and facing an increasingly digital world.  Because I’m super paranoid and I think about this stuff too much, I’ve evolved a few basic rules to guide me as I write.

  1. Never post their face. Facial recognition software is growing more sophisticated by the day.  I made one exception with the group photo on the About page because I want you readers to get a feel for who we are.
  2. Never give all the details: this is especially important for the medical side of things.  I’m honest and real, but I may not share everything.
  3. Ask myself: “would this prevent them from getting a job later in life?”  This might seem a bit extreme, but I’ve heard stories about public social media pages affecting a job offer.  Hey people, use the privacy option on your Facebook page.  It’s better not to show the world your kid’s school pictures or your infant’s antics.
  4. Ask first.  When they’re old enough (not sure which age that is yet) I’ll ask if they’re ok with me blogging about subject X.  If they say no, it’s out.
  5. Ask permission before I take a picture.  Sometimes I forget this one, or if I need a pic for their school portfolio they have no choice.  But in general, I try to ask first.  And respect a no.

In retrospect I guess this really a fairly basic concept.  I need to treat my kids as persons with rights to privacy and respect.  If I don’t show my kids respect now (and trust me, I do fail at this quite often) then how are they learning to respect themselves and others?

That’s another fine line to walk as a parent.  Modeling respect while enforcing boundaries.  I’ll knock on the bathroom door first unless I hear the sink becoming a pond ready to spill onto the floor.  I’ll give them a few minutes of warning before barking orders about “get over here NOW!”  I’ll even give them as much independence as I can as long as they reciprocate with responsibility.

They have no idea I’m blogging.  It’s my responsibility as a parent to protect them, including their virtual identity.  Hopefully when they’re older they won’t find a web search for my name that pulls up images of them (like one of my friends and her daughter.)  Even when they don’t know I’m doing it, I’m trying my utmost to protect them.

That’s my job, after all.



Giving Our Kids Some Virtual Privacy
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