Private KEEP OUT! Avoiding Internet Overexposure

Private KEEP OUT! Avoiding Internet Overexposure | Reining in Mom

Private KEEP OUT! Avoiding Internet Overexposure | Reining in Mom

Before I started this blog, I started an Instagram account @secondkidproblems about the various ways my second child is being raised differently than my first. He is having such a different experience as a baby than my daughter had as an only child. Not that it’s worse, just different, and sometimes I feel a bit of guilt about the fact that he does not get as much solo attention as my daughter got. But he is just as loved, just as cherished, and brings just as much joy as my daughter does. Starting the Instagram account was a way for me to convey that, as well as lightening my guilt with a little levity.

But I didn’t want to laugh at the expense of his internet privacy. So I set up some boundaries for myself that I have continued to use on this blog. I know some of these choices mean I will have fewer readers, less traffic, and ultimately less money (assuming I ever make any money!), but these were the choices that we were comfortable with as a family. Here’s how I keep my family private  while still creating revealing and engaging blog and social media posts.

Side-Angle Pose

I chose not to show my kids’ faces full-on. With facial recognition software, trollers lifting images for memes, and the like, I did not want to take the risk. This has been the most difficult privacy choice I’ve made because their faces are so cute! I have tried to convey their cuteness with side and back of the head shots, or with them holding something up in front of their faces, but it is not quite the same as seeing that full-face twinkly smile.

Not showing my kids’ faces is the number one privacy choice that will negatively affect the success of my blog, but it is also the number one choice that I feel will most protect their privacy. I know many other bloggers make their livelihood on the cuteness of their kids’ faces and that works for them, plus that is the best way to get blog readers engaged. Everyone comes out on this differently, of course. These are just my choices for my babies.

Private KEEP OUT! Avoiding Internet Overexposure | Reining in Mom

Not ready for her close up.

Pseudonyms Are Your Friends

I do not use my kids’ real names in my blog or public social media platforms, ever. I even blur out their names in pics where necessary. So far I refer to them First Kid and Second Kid but my husband thinks those are pretty clunky names so I may have to get more creative. I do this so they won’t show up in an easy Google search when they’re 15. I also blog under my maiden name instead of my married name, again in a weak attempt to avoid googling trolls. Anyone who knows us will easily be able to see through the ruse, but a weak attempt is better than no attempt in my book.

Keep the Focus on Me

My blog focuses on me, my struggles and strivings to improve my mental, physical, and emotional health as a mom. Because many of the strains on my health come from my kids’, they are a part of my blog, but they are not the focus. On my personal Facebook page I share more about my kids, but on my blog, I focus on the struggle that is parenting with only ancillary reference to my children’s lives.

Only Post What They’d Be Happy To See At Their Wedding

I do not post embarrassing stories or pics of my kids. Okay, so some posts are a little embarrassing, especially if held up to the tween/teen existence-itself-is-embarrassing standard. My rule of thumb is if it’s embarrassing-cute, as in my kids would be comfortable having it told as a story at their wedding or shown as a picture in a wedding montage, then it’s okay. If not, then it’s too embarrassing for public consumption. Of course, different people have different thresholds for what they’d want shown at their wedding so this standard will vary. I personally avoid nudity, bodily functions, and anything that engendered a traumatic emotional response (fear, sadness, anger). Since I have a three year old, this limits my topics to what she did not eat, but maybe I’ll be able to expand as she gets older.

Live in the Blogosphere

Finally, I don’t reveal my location. I live in a small town in Northern California, and that’s as specific as I get. Again, those who know me or investigate deeply can likely work out where I live. But not being uber-specific at least adds a bit of a hurdle to any local trolls. And it makes me feel a bit better that the entire internet (ok, 50 people) can’t easily access where my kids live.

My blog is only a few months old so maybe I’ll start to loosen up as time goes on. For now though, these choices make me feel safer. I am not a revealing person by nature so choosing to blog was a very out of the box decision for me. By placing boundaries on what I reveal, I have found a place where I can practice my writing, engage with a community, and stretch my technical skills. I can enjoy all that with less worry because of these privacy choices.

I realize that many other bloggers make very different choices that they feel perfectly good about though. Have you made any similar decisions about what you share on social media or your blog if you have one? Or do you just go hog wild and figure no one has any privacy anymore anyway? Let me know in the comments!

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30 Comments

  1. I initially made the decision not to use their real names, but it got to be a hassle. So I started using them. I try my hardest not to use our last name anywhere though!

    1. That seems like a good compromise Stefani. I agree, it’s hard to keep all these privacy choices straight so we’ll see where I end up after a while. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I admire your decisions as a mommy blogger! My kids have grown alongside social media therefore there was only trial and error with me and I can promise you…less is more! My kids are teenagers now and we have been fortunate to avoid any major issues with the World Wide Web but it is always a good idea to proceed with caution! 🙂

    1. Good to hear that there haven’t been any negative consequences for you all, Amanda. It’s so hard for me to know what the future will hold when I’m just starting out so thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. My son is 16 and when i started blogging he was all for pictures and posing. Now at 16 he is very careful about what i put out there as he knows the negative effect it could have on his college and future job career. I never post without his permission. As for product reviews i rarely show my son it’s usually all about the product which may be why after 3 years of blogging I am still not making money.

    1. Ah, I hadn’t even thought about products Rebecca! Probably because I’m not reviewing any for profit 🙂 but that is another area to think about. Thanks for sharing what works for you. I’m finding all of these responses so helpful!

    1. Interesting Kara! I hadn’t thought of that. We just have so many back of the head shots anyway (wiggly kids) so I go for that. But I know an instagrammer that does just hands too and it works very well, @insta2yearold I think is the handle.

    1. Thanks Karen. Yes, I do better with bright line rules and it helps me figure out what’s bloggable and what’s not. Thanks for commenting!

  4. It’s a sad world that we have to be constantly on edge. I’m with you on protecting our children. People forget that the internet/social media is public.

  5. I really understand being protective of your babies lives. My girls are adults now and I have their permission to use their names and images. However, whenever I use a picture of them with a friend I ask that person if it is OK for me to use their image.

    1. It’s such an individual comfort thing, and some people just have no problem with that stuff. But I’m with you, I’m just not comfortable with that!

  6. I’ve been blogging about 2 years and I have the same rules for myself. Everything I post becomes permanent and I always think how will my kids feel about this looking back? I also don’t share pics on my blog or Facebook page. I think you do just whatever works for you. 🙂

  7. It sounds like you made a lot of really important choices for your family.I think that they’re going to benefit from in the long run. It’s interesting to hear all the different ways that you’re protecting your family thanks for sharing!

  8. Great guidelines! My si daughters are much older than your kiddos, but I still try very hard to respect their privacy as much as possible online. I always ask if I can use pictures of them (they have total veto power) and only share stories if they are ok with it. Number four on your list is so important.

    1. Thanks Renee! That’s great that you are so respectful of their privacy. That’s why I struggle with these issues, I can’t ask them yet! Thanks for commenting.

  9. Wow, it seems like you really have your bases covered. It’s great that you think of all this and make important decisions for your family’s safety. Kudos to you!

  10. I seldom feature my kids on my blog since I value their privacy, but one thing I never do is reveal their names. Especially since their names are really unique.

  11. I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me.

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