As bloggers we share our whole lives with the entire world. Well, the small part of the world that gives a crap about what we have to say, but it’s available for the whole world to access at any point. When it comes to our own lives, it’s up to us what we do with it but what about when it comes the people who are a part of our day to day lives? Do we share photos and information about them?
For a long time I referred to Luke as The Boyfriend as I thought it wasn’t fair to feature photos of him that he might not want to share with the world. And I rarely share photos of my family and friends, or name them by name, as they might not want to have their lives shared online, which is fair enough – plus I just can’t be arsed to ask them on a post by post basis! But when it comes to Jenson it’s different, right? I mean, we’re his parents, we made him and we think it’s ok to share him with the world – on this blog, at least. I’d be pretty pissed if someone other than us posted pictures of him online.
But what happens when he gets older, realises Mummy is a blogger and doesn’t like what I share online? Should I take it all down? Should I stop featuring him now to reduce the faff later? Should I go back and edit to not include photos of his face and not refer to him by name? I Googled his full name, which I don’t believe I’ve ever used on this blog, and he comes up on image searches! Is it fair that I’m creating his online persona for him?
The other day I noticed that Helen from Treasure Every Moment had created a separate private Instagram account to share photos of Isabella and only features photos of her child online which don’t include her full face. Add to that the various parent bloggers I follow who give their children nicknames and/or don’t feature their faces and it got me to wondering about what’s ‘right’. I took to social media (of course) to ask my friends and fellow UK parent bloggers their thoughts. I’ve shared them all below.
Sophie, non-blogger: “Great Topic! I have mixed feelings? When I was expecting I never shared my news on Social media, no Scan photos or bump selfies! partly because I was quietly trying to process what was happening, but also because I made a promise to myself that I would not show my baby off to the ‘World’ without her permission 😂 however… when that little bundle of joy arrives & everyone wants a peek, it’s a different story! I think it’s a fabulous thing to be able to share photos/moments with friends & family! There are some days where my Newsfeed is full of these cute, adorable, funny little babes! And I love it, seeing them grow & change into little people! It should be celebrated safely of course! My setting are Friends only… And hopefully they are the only ones who can view them!? Hopefully Holly will approve when she’s old enough to understand!”
Gabby, non-blogger: “My privacy settings are friends only. I don’t accept anyone that I don’t personally know.”
Bethany, non-blogger: “It’s interesting how much people vary on this. I’ve got friends (bloggers and not) who share looooads of pics of their kids online, and tell stories about them (schoolwork or funny things they say). But also others who don’t put a single picture up, and request their friends/family not to either. I don’t really mind either way what people do – I love keeping up with my friends lives and obviously their kids are a massive part of that, but those who aren’t interested are fine too, I totally get why they don’t want their kid to “wake up” into a world with so much pre-existing stuff about them in it.”
Cardiff Mummy Says: “Ah, this is something I think about a lot! Maybe I approach it differently because my background is as a journalist, so I’ve been in the public eye a while and knew what it was like to be trolled before I had children and how easy it is for trolls to find out a lot about you, but I have always hidden my children’s identities on my blog and social media. I don’t use their names and I only photograph them from the back, so you can’t see their faces. I also don’t really talk specifics about behaviour or incidents that could later come back to embarrass them. I do put photos on my personal Facebook page but have my privacy settings high. Everyone has to choose what’s right for their own family though and I’d certainly never judge anyone for doing the opposite to me.”
Heather, non-blogger: “We limit Alfred’s, but he does have an online presence. He has family spread far and wide and that’s the only way to keep them involved in his life. Bigger medical sagas we don’t go public, things that have no relevance but would be humiliating to him as an adult we don’t. But my insta/Facebook is the limit of his exposure. Maybe a little twittering. But you’ll know what’s right for you and your family. If you’re not comfortable you act on that, equally if you’re happy stick with it!”
All Things Amy: “I don’t post photos of B online at all. I don’t like the idea that anyone can save those images, share them around etc. It’s my role as a mum to protect him. He’s far too precious to just share with anyone ;)”
Quite Frankly She Said: “This is something that is always on my mind, too. I stopped doing monthly baby updates at 12 months, I don’t use my children’s names and I deliberately photograph them so that you can’t see their faces properly. Not because I think it is dangerous to do so otherwise, but just if in years to come my children decide that, actually, they don’t want all that out there, it’s pretty much impossible to remove.”
Kelly, blogger: “I’m the opposite. I don’t feel my children are unsafe because of photography. I know they’re safe because they’re physically with me. They adore having their photos taken, they love receiving things to test/review in the post for the blog and I’ve actually asked them if they’re bothered and they looked at me a bit strangely and said no. Mine are 5 and nearly 7 and they are headstrong! I think it’s personal preference really and I’d be a bit worried if my child sued me in years to come… I think a lot of it is hot air. At the end of the day it’s your choice.”
The Stage Mommy: “Although my blog is mommy blog I only write general things about mommyhood and if I write about my daughter it’s not necessarily an update nor anything very personal mostly general posts like this and I don’t show her face.”
Katy Kicker: “I love sharing my daughter with the world. I waited 7 long years for her and I want friends, family and my readers to see how she is doing.
People could save the photos I share, just the same as someone could take a photo in public without us realising we are in it. I think everyone can make their own decision for their own child and it isn’t for another parent to tell someone what to do. If more people realised everyone makes different choices and stopped being so judgemental it would be much easier for everyone to parent.”
Simon, blogger: “My blog is mostly about gender stereotypes in children, and how my daughter dresses and plays is a big part of that. I’ve never named her though, so her name won’t come up in any searches. She’s 4 now, and I talk to her about what we’re doing and why. If she says she doesn’t want a photo taken I respect her decision.”
Jo, blogger: “I’ve not named my son blog even though it’s mainly about him. Like Katy said I waited 6 years for him. I didn’t start blogging till he was 2.5 and I don’t normally post full face pictures. There’s some if you new who he was you’d recognise him no doubt. When I ask my mates can their children be featured they always reply yes, and each time there’s a new pic I ask again. They don’t even mind if I use full pictures but I never do. I’ve searched his name on google and nothing comes up, we go by his initials that’s what we call him so I’m confident that when he grows up he can go by his full name and nobody would make the connection.”
Teddy Bears and Cardigans: “I blog about my grandson and his mum blogs about him too. We never write his name he has a different blog name with both of us. It’s not because I’m worried it’s just to give him a choice when he’s older. I also keep my surname out of the blog too for the same reason. I’d love to google my maiden name and see days out with my mum and grandparents who, sadly, are no longer here but the internet wasn’t around. I respect those that decide the other way, luckily we are all different.”
A Cornish Mum: “I started blogging 19 months ago when my boys were already tweens, they are now 10 and 12. I don’t write about anything embarrassing to them or overly personal aside from Type 1 Diabetes – which I asked my eldest son’s permission to write about as that is about him. I do use their first names, but their surname is different to mine so they are less likely to come up in searches. I don’t use photos of them all that often these days, as bullying is something I do worry about and it would be a real stab to the heart for me if they got bullied because of something that I wrote or shared. I will be honest and say that sometimes I am surprised by just what some bloggers share, for instance I read a post by someone who isn’t in here about their ten year old child wetting the bed, with their full name and their child’s full name on their blog…. I can’t imagine any ten year old would want their friends to know that, let alone the world. It is up to each individual blogger to decide what they share as obviously it is their blog and their children, but personally I have a lot of boundaries that I won’t cross.”
Tattooed Tea Lady: “I share my daughter, Willow, across my blog and social media. Mainly photos and updates on how she is doing, as I also blogged throughout my pregnancy so it was a natural step to continue when she was born. I think there should be limits to what sort of content you share; I would never post naked photos of her, for example. Otherwise I think it is fine to share content which includes my daughter, as her parent I make decisions for her until she is an adult and I see it as no different to other decisions I make for her. Being cautious is absolutely paramount though, and you have to decide your own line that shouldn’t be crossed.”
Verily Victoria Vocalises: “I started blogging when Grace was 4. She is now 9. I have always used her name and photos. At the end of the day we live in a world dominated by an online presence and I believe this will continue as Grace gets older and become ‘the norm’. I don’t think it makes any odds if I am honest. So long as I make sure she is vigilant and aware and understands what is right and wrong. She will grow up to have her own profile one day I’m sure!”
Yummy Blogger: “I don’t use my boys’ names or photos of their faces on my blog. I really wish I could but I’m overly paranoid about crazy people out there, which sounds insane! I guess I want to maintain some privacy for my boys while I can.”
Babi a Fi: “I’ve always used my daughter’s name and photos – my personal belief is that internet is only going to grow more integral to our lives, and trying not to leave an online footprint is all but impossible. You might as well embrace it! As she gets older I’ll let her have more control over what and if I post about her, of course, but I don’t really see much difference between blogging about her and letting her picture be in the local paper, etc, which we’ve done. I’ve blogged about the security and privacy aspects before, because I’m in an unusual situation in that my contact details, home address, timetable, etc, are all public domain because of my job. (I’m a county councillor.) My view is kind of, it’s already out there so we may as well make the most of it by presenting the best public face we can on the blog.”
The Mini Mes and Me: “I use nicknames for the children (Minxy and Jamster) and not their real names. It’s just a personal choice.”
Anniebobs: “I use both kids names and photos on the blog and social media, Annie’s almost 5 and loves getting her picture taken. I would never post something that may embarrass her or that I might regret and as she gets older I’m sure she’ll have more input into what is shared. I think they’re growing into a world where everyone will have an online presence so there’s no real point in worrying too much about it. I hardly notice when someone doesn’t use their child’s name or doesn’t show full face photos so running a blog that way would be fine, just do whatever you’re comfortable with.”
Coffee, Cake, Kids: “I use my sons photos and real first names. The eldest is 5 and think he’s starting to understand a little but I’ve asked him if he minds and he said no. In fact, he’s a show off and asks me to take pics of him to put on the blog. I wouldn’t write about anything too personal or embarrassing but until any of them are at the point where they say ‘no more mom’, I’ll carry on.”
Becster: “I use nickname for my girls – Little Miss (eldest) and Miss Mostyn for the youngest. I never show photos of their faces – it was a decision hubby and I made very early to keep their privacy.”
Tattooed Mummy: “I’ve always blogged anonymously. I do share my first name, but that’s a recent thing. I was in two minds about joining this group tbh, as it ‘outs’ me. I refer to my daughter as DD online, I have done since she was small. As soon as she could understand and answer I’ve asked before telling stories about her, or using her pictures online. I still do that. Recently, since she turned 16, she is responsible for her her own online presence, and uses her real name more than I do! I’ve been blogging for over ten years. Oh and my husband refuses to be photographed for the blog, a picture of him is as rare as hens teeth.”
Sophie, blogger: “I’m following this I’d like to see peoples different views. I am still very new to blogging and I do not use their names or photos of faces. However my eldest has really fun ideas for videos and wants us to start vlogging. I’m not completely sure what it is but I just don’t know if I want to start showing faces yet or if I ever will.”
Hex Mum Plus 1: “I have been blogging five years, my eldest was 13 when I started and each of the seven have unusual names, I have always used their names since the beginning, the older children think its really cool and many of their friends google them and like the posts, if any posts are specifically about the older children I will always ask their permission about publishing it, in fact the older three now write some of the posts. They have appeared in the newspapers and on large companies youtube channels, I check with them constantly that they are happy and so far each of them is.”
Mumzilla: “Anyone can take a picture of you, or save it, or share it. I don’t really care too much. I never use our surname. That said, lots of people who blog and use pseudonyms don’t realise that their whole address is on the Internet for anyone to find on the whois website. That’s worse than pictures! Ours is our old address, we’d moved by the time I realised though! If R doesn’t like anything I’ve written when he’s old I will just delete it. Personally I think he’ll like it as a history of our family.”
Sophie and Lily: “I’ve vlogged since my 4.5 year old was 18 weeks old and documented my pregnancy and onwards of my now 2 year old son. At some point I will probably make all the videos private when it is the right time to stop. At the mo my channel is mostly all about pregnancy updates.”
The Adventures of Beta Mummy: “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but personally, I don’t have photos of myself or my kids on my blog, and the photos I put on my blog facebook/instagram pages I make sure that my boys’ faces arent fully showing. My blog is a bit different from most parenting/lifestyle blogs though, so I might do differently if I ever had a different type of blog.”
Donna, blogger: “I’ve never used my sons name, and I’m not sure if I’ll continue using him on my blog for majority of things as he gets older- I’m eager to move it more towards my lifestyle and fashion/travel. I may phase him out but every now and then have pictures of family holidays etc but that’s about it.”
Motherhoodery: “This is a timely question as I’ve just launched my blog and have been thinking the same thing. I don’t use his real name, but I have included a couple of pics so far. I am very conscious of it and certainly won’t include him in all posts. I was worried my blog wouldn’t be personable enough, if I didn’t show some of my ‘real life’. I plan to keep to a minimum, where I think it will add something.”
An Organised Mess: “My children want their own YouTube channel. Desperately. So, whilst I always refer to them with a pseudonym on my blog they’ve been making videos where they automatically use each other’s names (I have yet to publish any but nod along enthusiastically!). I suspect they’re going to win… and be sadly disappointed by their lack of subscribers. I don’t know, I’ve tried to think about their identity in terms of future searches, but suspect life will change even more over the next ten years!”
Adventures of a Novice Mum: “I blog about motherhood, so reference to my child is unavoidable. However, I avoid using front facing pictures to reduce the chances of being recognised and linked to the information I share. I also use nick names and pseudonyms, for a number of reasons. I’m constantly questioning myself about the level of detail I include in what I share, and thus always evaluating my reason for blogging. The nature of my job makes me very cautious, so does the discovery of my blog by most of my family members and some of my friends, and indeed most of my old acquaintances from years gone by. There are some folks I’d rather not share some of my life’s details with and I don’t want to make it easy to be found, in case they ever remember me and get curious / nosy. Then of course, there’s my child’s privacy. I’m acutely aware of the fact my child hasn’t chosen to blog; in any case, my toddler is unable to give me permission about what to share of his life. So, in satisfying my need to write about my mothering experiences, I try to stay mindful of the ‘future taste’ of the digital footprint I’m creating, in case my child ever questions my writing decisions when he comes of age. So, my cautious blogging choices in terms of the images and details that I share, is overall based on the need to preserve as much of our privacy as possible, from unwanted prying eyes; and respect for my child now and in the future. I’m actually planning to review my past posts and replace some pictures that I think shows more than I’m comfortable with. I also sometimes discuss the pictures I share with hubby, to make sure it fits my criteria.”
I love that the gist of this is that everyone is non-judgemental about other bloggers’ choices and people should just do whatever they’re comfortable with – aces! But what exactly am I comfortable with? How would I feel if I suddenly discovered a blog with posts about and photos of me growing up? I imagine it would come from a place of love and pride and that there wouldn’t be anything embarassing on there but for a teenage boy in school? These things need to be considered.
As you can see from the photos I’ve shared in this post, it wouldn’t take much effort for me to keep ‘full’ photos of Jenson to my personal Facebook account (with strict privacy settings) and post non-identifiable photos here on the blog. In fact, I’m seriously considering going back through old blog posts (and old social media posts – man, that sounds like a big job!) to remove anything out of courtesy to him when he’s older. On the other hand, the kid is hella cute and he might like having this to look back on when he’s older…
But even if I made these edits/removals, what about me? I’m identifiable by this blog. I use my full name as I use it and my social media accounts for professional purposes, so would Jenson be identifiable through me regardless? Say ten years down the line Jenson is at school and mentions that his mum is a blogger, what if other people Googled me and then ended up finding Jenson? Probably unlikely as we have different last names but still worth considering, right? What’s a parent blogger to do?!
Before I go back and edit a load of old posts and start referring to Jenson as The Boy/Baby J, I’d love to hear any final thoughts on the topic. So, what do you think?