I’ve been toying with no longer sharing my children’s names online for a while now. If you’re a regular here you’ll know that I don’t share photos of my children’s faces online – you can read why here.
This feels like the next step and was something that I thought about a lot before I had my babies and on and off since then.
Parenting on Social Media and in the Online World
Spoiler alert – it’s bloody tough. So tough, that the easiest option seems to stop it. To not parent online.
There are a few reasons why I think I’m going to make the change. I see both sides of the discussion though, so it’s a hard one for me. And it goes without saying that I’m not judging anyone who chooses to share names online – and photos for that matter. I absolutely realise that I’m in the minority here. My husband even thinks it’s not necessary, which makes me think a large part of it is due to my history and experiences, but more on that later.
I also appreciate that as I have a family travel blog, and of course that my children are such a huge part of my life, I’m not going to stop all mentions of them. I still want to blog about our family days out and holidays, but I’m thinking I just won’t include the kid’s names. To cut the digital footprint and connection if you like.
Recommended Reading: Is It Even Worth Taking photos?
The Impact is Unknown
This world where social media, blogs and vlogs are present from the day you’re born – well even before with scan pictures being shown – is just crazy. There aren’t enough studies and research to fully understand the impact this has on children, so most of my justification is just based on my opinion and how it all makes me feel.
Sure, my kids might be fine if I continue to share their names online, but they might not be. And equally, they might be fine if I don’t share them. I don’t have a crystal ball or a time machine. I can’t experiment with one parenting approach, see what the outcome is and then rewind, do it another way and then choose the best outcome. Man, that would be handy! I just have to go with my gut feeling and do what feels right for both me, and the little ones.
Recommended Reading: Why I don’t share photos of my children
It’s Their Digital Footprint
This topic reared its head again when I was doing the school rounds, looking at various primary schools for my 4 year old. Wow, do their styles and approaches vary. However, the thing they all have in common is that they’re hot on online safety. Each school had posters encouraging pupils to be conscious of their digital footprint.
There were prompts asking if they really needed to share their name, photo etc and to think about who could have access to it. They were mentions of published information and images potentially being available to future employers.
I’ve always tried to be thoughtful about what information I share about other people. It’s one thing for me to write about my own experiences and feelings, but another to become someone else’s voice. And so, with the limited bits I’ve shared online I don’t feel like any of them would be frowned upon by an employer and I don’t think they’re embarrassing.
However, my two have very distinctive names so if someone did search for them I’m sure it would be easy to find various posts and to connect the dots. Does this mean I shouldn’t share it? No. Would it matter if someone knew they went to Canada when they were 2? No.
It’s Their Choice
But, the thing that I couldn’t push out of my head is that it’s their choice; their consent. And what, because my children can’t give their consent it means I have the right to make the decision for them? I don’t think so.
At age 2 and 4, my children are too young to fully understand what the internet is and the true impact of sharing personal information online. Interestingly though, studies have said from age 4 children have an idea of who they are and can begin to comprehend it.
There are laws against posting pictures without consent and as a child, they haven’t given consent. Granted, I’m not posting anything inappropriate or that shames them, but it still doesn’t mean that I should be creating their digital footprint.
It’s Their Identity
According to this UK report, Barclays has forecast that by 2030 sharenting (parenting on online) will account for two thirds of identity fraud. That’s people stealing information, like date of births and addresses. There are the dangers of posting baby pictures on Facebook and having them fall into the wrong hands.
And of course on the other hand, there are parents snapping up username handles for their children for things like Instagram and websites. Is it a step too far or is it a thoughtful, needed thing to do, like securing a school place or a spot in a popular club?
A study says that “Children must be able to form their own identity and create their own sense of both private and public self to thrive as young people and eventually as adults.” and I get that.
Recommended Reading: Should I divorce him?
Sharing Privately Online
There are ways to still share personal things like that but you can do it privately (if, of course, you want to). From what I’ve read the best way to share photos online privately is via a secure app or portal. I don’t use them, so you’ll need to do your own research, but I’ve heard good things.
My mentality has always been that if someone wants to look at pictures of my child it should be someone who would make the effort to come and see them. Someone who is in their lives. It should also be someone I trust.
I mentioned in the other post that I’ve experienced family sharing child/teenage photos of me without my consent, mocking me and then refusing to delete them. In my opinion, that’s just not acceptable.
Challenging The Rationale
I’m aware that the logic for my decision isn’t clear cut. For example, you could apply some of it to vaccinations and argue that I shouldn’t immunise my children because I haven’t got their consent. However, in my opinion it comes down to making choices that feel right for you. Ones that have been researched or at the very least, carefully considered.
Not vaccinating my children puts their lives in danger. There is research to prove that. Not sharing my children’s names or photos online does not put them in danger. As far as I can see it doesn’t have a negative effect on them. And yes, the threat if I do choose to share that information is small, but is one that just doesn’t sit well with me. The benefit of sharing it doesn’t outweigh that small threat.
For now, I feel more comfortable not using their names. I’m not sure I need to create false names – though some of the suggestions I received are pretty good! And I’m not sure if I feel an urgency to go back and update the old posts just yet.
I don’t know if this brain dump will make much sense, particularly as I know most people do the opposite of what I’m suggesting, but yeah, this is where I’m at. And no doubt in a few years time it will all change again, because that’s the joy (and stress) of parenting – it’s a changeable feast.